WW2 – German Spies in Ireland #2

In 1939, having completed three successful espionage missions in England, Walter Simon was found guilty of illegal entry and sentenced to three months imprisonment. He was then deported and warned never to return. Unbelievably, MI5 returned all his notebooks containing coded information that he had amassed.

Delighted with the quality of the material he had collected on British air defenses — material invaluable to Operation Sealion, the planned invasion of Britain — the Abwehr decided to send him to Ireland to collect intelligence on the disposition of British naval ships. He was transported to Ireland by U-boat and dropped in County Kerry in the west of Ireland on 13 June, 1940.

He was 58 years of age, carrying a large amount of cash and a new suitcase radio transmitter. The first thing he did upon landing was to bury his radio, intending to recover it later. He then set out toward Dublin on foot, following a railway track. Coming upon some workmen he inquired when the next train was due, and received the reply that he might have to wait a while; the last train to run on those tracks had been 14 months earlier.

Arriving at Dingle in the early morning, he asked a local publican the time of the next bus to Tralee. As there was a two hour wait, the local man invited him to wait in his pub (it was probably raining). Three glasses of whiskey later, Simon was making derogatory remarks about Winston Churchill, and promising that the long-suffering Irish people would soon be freed of their poverty ‘when Hitler arrives’.

He caught the bus to Tralee, taking a bottle of whiskey with him which he shared with the other passengers. Arriving in Tralee in a drunken state, he immediately attracting the attention of two plain-clothes detectives who befriended him and offered to put him in contact with the IRA.

Upon arrival in Dublin, the police were waiting for him. He spun several different stories to explain how and why he had arrived in Ireland. The story that the Irish police found most convincing was of a Swedish national sickened by German-occupied Europe who traveled from Holland in search of ‘peace and quietness’ on a British trawler. Luckily, the police took his fingerprints and sent them to their colleagues in England, and Walter Simon’s true identity was established. On 8 July, 1940 he was charged and pleaded guilty to illegal entry. He was sentenced to three years.

Simon’s period as an agent in Ireland lasted 26 days, almost all of those in police custody. His belongings included $2,000 and some English money, which diminished day by day as he was passed from police agency to agency and from district to district.

Source: Irish Secrets by Mark M. Hull, Irish Academic Press, 2003 0-7165-2756-1
and Wikipedia

2 thoughts on “WW2 – German Spies in Ireland #2

  1. JJ Toner says:

    Hi David, That’s the kernel of my book: The only way to explain the incompetence of the Abwehr in Ireland was that they were secretly working against Hitler. I have no explanation for the strange actions of British Intelligence unless…

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