The Secret Life of the Double Agent

Our speaker at our Monthly Meeting in March was Paul Barwick, a former policeman (uniformed and plain clothes) with 34 years of service. Paul’s subject for his talk was Edward (Eddie) Arnold Chapman – a British WW2 spy and the only serving member of the British Army to be awarded the Iron Cross on the authority of Adolf Hitler!

We were introduced to Eddie’s early career as a serial criminal with a strong interest (in all senses) in Soho. Eddie had started to go wrong after being absent without leave from the Coldstream Guards, having disappeared in a favourite haunt in Soho. That earned him an 84 day sentence in the ‘Glasshouse’ followed by an dishonourable discharge! What followed was a disreputable career in Soho with frequent spells in jail, and a marriage in 1935 that did not last. He skipped the country to Jersey.

With the arrival of the Germans there were yet more prison terms to serve, and repeated letters requesting money from his wife and daughter. His replying letters were all blocked by the prison governor, and Eddie started to worry that he would be stuck in prison for the entire war, and even beyond. He sent a secret letter to the German secret service offering to spy for them in England.

He was trained and started spying for the Abwehr, ostensibly to sabotage the DeHavilland Aircraft Factory in Hatfield. On arrival in England, he immediately sought out MI5 and told them what he had been sent to do, and shopped his English reception team to MI5 at the same time. He got extensively involved with camouflage expert Jasper Maskelyne in plans that led the Germans to believe that the factory had been incapacitated by working.

The Germans were pleased with his work and sent him to Oslo to find the resistance fighters and turn them in. Romance intervened at every step with Eddie, and Oslo was no exception. In the end, he claimed to be working for both sides at the same time. The Germans were pleased with his efforts, and Adolf Hitler authorised the presentation of an Iron Cross 2nd Class.

Landing points of missiles (left) and the V1 launch site (right)

Eddie was then prepared for a second mission in England, reporting the landings of V1 and V2 to improve their accuracy. With the help of MI5, he misreported the sites, and possible saved many lives as the rockets landed in Kent, Surrey, Essex and Hertfordshire.

At the end of the war, he married again and started a new family. Throughout the war he seems to have been on the British Payroll and the German Payroll and when VE Day arrived, he was a wealthy man, owning a castle, and later a large estate near Radlett.

Thankfully, his autobiography was seized by MI5 and never published, but his story did make it into the film “Triple Cross”. So, was he a patriot? Patrick explained that Eddie had made WW2 the source of his income regardless of patriotism. Everything he did, he did for his own benefit. He died near Radlett at the age of 83 in 1997.

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