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Latimer House - Secrets Revealed | Chorleywood Magazine

Latimer House – Secrets Revealed

Posted On September 5, 2014
September 05, 2014

 An intriguing book by Historian Helen Fry that reveals secrets behind the story of Kendrick, the WW2 M16 spymaster based at Latimer House

Helen Fry spent five years researching Spymaster, The Secret Life of Kendrick, As well as painstakingly working through files at The National Archives and speaking to descendants of intelligence officers she spent time with refugees from Germany who had been secret listeners at Latimer.

Helen had no idea just how crucial Latimer’s role in WW2 had been.

Colonel Thomas Kendrick was working for the British Secret Service in Vienna in the 30s, saving thousands of Jews from the Holocaust and eluded the Nazis until betrayed by a double agent. After interrogation Kendrick was sent back to London. He disappeared from the public eye and re-emerged during WW2 as MI6’s spymaster-in-chief operating from 1942 at Latimer House. Several thousand German prisoners-of-war (allegedly including Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess) passed through its specially constructed block and their conversations bugged.

“ Latimer House, along with Bletchley and Wilton Park near Beaconsfield, gathered vital information that shortened the course of war.” says Helen, “Bletchley was about codes but Latimer was the human side. Latimer would act out phony interrogations then get the real useful material when the prisoners were talking to their cell mates . Interrogators would take a German General for a walk in the grounds and chat about politics, literature or family, then once relaxed they would let secrets slip. It was at Latimer conversations about V1 and V2 were first overheard.”

Helen uncovered lots of gems. By piecing information from different sources she was convinced that Rudolph Hess spent time at Latimer.

“ A staff member at Latimer House showed me ‘Hess’ room’ which was next to Kendrick’s. I also identified a time when he could have been there. We located the secret tunnel behind a wall which supposedly leads to the church. When De Vere bought the property the Deeds specified that the wall blocking the tunnel wasn’t to be touched for 50 years. My inkling is to get a hammer and chisel and start now. Latimer House holds many secrets. Lots are in the book, some are still to be uncovered.”

‘Had it not been for the information obtained at these centres, it could have been London and not Hiroshima which was devastated by the first atomic bomb,’ St Clare Grondona

Spymaster, The Secret Life of Kendrick, Helen Fry, £15

 

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6 Comments

  1. Peggy Stewart   13/12/2014 12:09 am / Reply

    I would like to see the names at the bottom of this photo. My Uncle, Denton D. Stewart MBE worked with these people, or the people at Bletchley from 1939 until 1944. His military records (all of them) will not be available to research for another 40 years. He spoke fluent German and French and although he was Canadian Army, he was seconded to the British Army until 1944 when awarded the military MBE. We would love to hear about his work. Or see a photograph. So far, I have turned up very little except that in 1944 he went down to work for the Americans near Langley until his death in a mysterious house fire in 1962. Any information about Major Denton D. Stewart MBE that anyone has would be fascinating to the family. Thanks!

  2. David Stearne   08/01/2015 2:36 pm / Reply

    I too would like to see the names, I am following up an old lady’s story that she worked at Latimer House c1944/5 and was in the ATS. Without access to the names which are too blurred to read, I cannot see if she is in the photo.

    • Dr helen fry   16/01/2015 7:56 am / Reply

      Hi, if you are able to give me the name of this lady, I will be able to follow it up for you and check on my lists. It would also be good for me to interview her if wHe is still alive. I have other photos too.
      Best wishes
      Helen

  3. Pam Slater   22/04/2015 6:28 pm / Reply

    My Mother, known as Bowie, was the person to take the call that Hess had been captured and did they want him at Latimer House. Her Major was out shooting rabbits in the grounds at the time! My Mother said yes and luckily gave the correct answer!!

  4. Elizabeth Driscoll   22/02/2016 1:49 pm / Reply

    My paternal uncle, Leslie Edwin Albert Parkin [Tiger] , was an interrogator at Latimer House in 1944. I believe he met his wife either there or at Trent Park and should love to find out if there are any records bearing her name available? She was Dorothy Elizabeth Parrott Humphreys. I should be very grateful if you could tell me whether or how I can access this information.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article and was thrilled to find my Uncle Leslie in the middle of the photograph.
    All best wishes,
    Elizabeth Driscoll [nee Parkin]

  5. Paul Biddle   22/03/2017 3:27 am / Reply

    Looking for any information on Captain Carl Ferdinand Juulman (noted on the picture) thanks

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