Capturing Cambridge
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Engelbertus Fukken, alias Jan Willem ter Braak

58 St Barnabas Road

History of 58 St Barnabas Road

1913:

G R Hattersley

………

1939:

Alfred S Sennitt, b 1873, master butcher

Kate E, b 1889

Doris Towers, b 1902, servant

The following is an extract from the Wikipedia article about Jan Ter Braak. There has been a long held belief by some that it was because of his information that the Shrove Tuesday 1941 bombing raid on the Hills Road area took place. The book, ‘Traitor, Lodger, German Spy’ by Tony Rowland (2018) is a fictionalised account of Ter Braak’s time in England using the known facts.

Jan Willem Ter Braak was a German spy who arrived in England by parachute on a night between 31 October and 2 November 1940, landing near Haversham in Buckinghamshire. His parachute was discovered on 3 November but Ter Braak was not found. He had in fact made his way to Cambridge, where he arrived on 4 November. It is not clear where he stayed in the few days after his arrival in England. In Cambridge he found lodgings with a couple named Sennitt at 58 St. Barnabas Road, who accepted his story of having come from the Netherlands during the Dunkirk evacuation, having lived after that in two other places in South-England. He claimed to be working with Free Dutch forces in London on a Dutch newspaper.

Despite his false identity papers, Ter Braak was able to rent an office above the renting firm Haslop & Co in Green Street. As an alien from an occupied country, Ter Braak’s residence should have been registered with the police, but he did not do so. His landlord did tip the Aliens Officer off that a Dutch national was living with him, but the police did not follow up and speak to him, saying that they were sure he would register before long. He spent most of the day out of the house but never spent a night away, and supported himself from a large amount of cash which he had brought with him and which included United States Dollars. He left his office behind already in December 1940. He had installed his suitcase transmitter in his room in St Barnabas Road but around Christmas the batteries had been running down, so since then he could only communicate with the Abwehr in Hamburg by letters, written with secret ink. Sometimes he made daytrips by bus or train to small cities in the neighbourhood as Bedford and also several times to London, where he probably inspected the effects of the bombardments on buildings and the citizens.

In January 1941, Ter Braak was contacted by the Food Office about his ration card, which its records showed had been issued to a man named Burton living in Homefields, Addlestone, Surrey. This was because the card had been supplied by the Abwehr using numbers given by the double agent SNOW (Arthur Owens). Ter Braak evidently suspected that he would be detected, and told his landlady that he had to leave for London. However, he relocated to 11 Montague Road.

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