Here is some historically interesting documentary footage relating to the life and times of William Joyce (aka Lord Haw Haw )



The Execution of Lord Haw Haw at Wandsworth Prison in 1946

William Joyce, the man with the famous nickname ‘Lord Haw Haw’, is Britain’s most well-known traitor, of relatively recent times anyway. He had a catchphrase as famous as any comedian’s and to cap it all he had a facial disfigurement in the form of a terrible scar that marked him as a villainous traitor as if the words themselves was tattooed across his forehead. Saying all that, a lot of people have argued that he shouldn’t have been convicted of treason at all, let alone be executed for the crime.

On the cold and damp morning of 3 January 1946 a large but orderly crowd had formed outside the grim Victorian prison in Wandsworth. The main gates of London’s largest gaol are situated not more than a few hundred feet from the far more salubrious surroundings of Wandsworth Common in South West London.

Some people had come to protest at what they considered an unjust conviction, while others, ghoulishly and morbidly, wanted to be as close as they could, to what would turn out to be, the execution of the last person to be convicted of treason in this country.

William Joyce had woken early that morning and although he ate no breakfast he drank a cup of tea. At one minute to nine, an hour later than initially planned, the Governor of Wandsworth Prison came to the condemned man’s cell to inform him that his time had come.

The walk to the adjacent execution chamber was but a few yards but there was just enough time for Joyce to look down at his badly trembling knees and smile. Albert Pierrepoint, the practiced and experienced hangman, said the last words that Joyce would ever hear: ‘I think we’d better have this on, you know’ and placed a hood over the condemned man’s head followed immediately by the noose of the hanging rope.

A few seconds later the executioner pulled a lever which automatically opened the trap door beneath Joyce’s feet. Almost instantaneously Joyce’s spinal cord was ripped apart between the second and third vertebrae and the man known throughout the country as Lord Haw-Haw, was dead.

At about the same time as the hangman pulled his deadly lever a group of smartly dressed men in winter coats stepped away from the main crowd outside the gates of the prison and behind some nearby bushes, almost surreptitiously, were seen to raise their right arms in the ‘Heil Hitler!’ salute.

At eight minutes past nine a prison officer came out and pinned an official announcement that the hanging of the traitor William Joyce had taken place. At 1pm the BBC Home Service reported the execution and read out the last, unrepentant pronouncement from the dead man;

In death, as in this life, I defy the Jews who caused this last war, and I defy the power of darkness which they represent. I warn the British people against the crushing imperialism of the Soviet Union. May Britain be great once again and in the hour of the greatest danger in the west may the Swastika be raised from the dust, crowned with the historic words ‘You have conquered nevertheless’. I am proud to die for my ideals; and I am sorry for the sons of Britain who have died without knowing why.

William Joyce had actually been born in Brooklyn, New York forty years previously to an English Protestant mother and an Irish Catholic father who had taken United States citizenship. A few years after the birth the family returned to Galway where William attended the Jesuit St Ignatius College from 1915 to 1921. William had always been precociously politically aware but both he and his father, rather unusually for Irish Catholics at the time, were both Unionists and openly supported British rule.

In fact Joyce later said that he had aided and ran with the infamous Black and Tans, the notoriously indisciplined and brutal British auxiliary force sent to Ireland after the First World War in an attempt to help put down Irish nationalism. Joyce actually became the target of an IRA assassination attempt in 1921 when he was just sixteen.

For his own safety William immediately left for England, and after a short stint in the British army (he was discharged when it was found he had lied about his age) he enrolled at Birkbeck College of the University of London where he gained a first but also developed an initial interest in Fascism.

In 1924, while stewarding a Conservative Party meeting at the Lambeth Baths in Battersea, a seventeen year old Joyce was attacked by an unprovoked gang in an adjacent alley-way and received a vicious and deep cut from a razor that sliced across his right cheek from behind the earlobe all the way to the corner of his mouth. After two weeks in hospital he was left with a terrible and disfiguring facial scar. Joyce was convinced that his attackers were ‘Jewish communists’ and the incident became a massive influence on the rest of his life.

In 1932 Joyce joined Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists and within a couple of years he was promoted to the BUF’s director of propaganda and not long after appointed deputy leader. Joyce was a gifted speaker and for a while became the star of the British fascist movement. He was instrumental in moving the union towards overt anti-semitism — something of which Mosley had always been relatively uncomfortable.

Joyce’s career with the British Union of Fascists only lasted five years when, with membership plummeting, a devastated Joyce was sacked from his paid position in the party by Mosley in 1937.

In late August 1939, shortly before war was declared and probably tipped off by a friend in MI5 that he was about to be arrested, Joyce and his wife Margaret fled to Germany. Joyce struggled to find employment until he met fellow former-Mosleyite Dorothy Eckersley who got him recruited immediately for radio announcements and script writing at German radio’s English service in Berlin.

Crucially this was at a time when his British passport was still valid (although born in New York and brought up in Ireland Joyce had lied about his nationality to obtain a British passport — complications and niceties such as proving one’s identity with a birth certificate weren’t needed at the time) ostensibly to accompany Mosley abroad in 1935.

The infamous nickname of ‘Lord Haw Haw’, associated with William Joyce to this day, was coined by a Daily Express journalist called Jonah Barrington. It’s not widely known but the title was actually meant for someone else completely — almost certainly a man called Norman Baillie-Stewart who had been broadcasting in Germany from just before the war. The nickname referenced Baillie-Stewart’s exaggeratedly aristocratic way of speaking. Barrington had written:

A gent I’d like to meet is moaning periodically from Zeesen [the site in Germany of the English transmitter]. He speaks English of the haw-haw, dammit-get-out-of-my-way variety, and his strong suit is gentlemanly indignation.

Baillie-Stewart had already been convicted as a traitor by the United Kingdom for selling military secrets to Germany in the early thirties. He had the dubious distinction of being the last person in a long line of infamous people to have been imprisoned in the Tower of London for treason.

Late in 1939 when William Joyce had become the more prominent of the Nazi propaganda broadcasters, although at the time no one knew who he was, Barrington swapped the title over to Joyce.

Listening to Lord Haw Haw’s broadcasts (which famously always began with the words “Germany Calling, Germany Calling”) was officially discouraged, although incredibly about 60% of the population tuned in after the BBC news every night. The BBC’s output at the beginning of the war was said to have been exceedingly dreary (plus ca change) and the British public seemed to prefer being shocked rather than bored.

Lord Haw Haw’s over-the-top and sneering attacks on the British establishment were really enjoyed, but in an era of state censorship and restricted information, there was also a desire by listeners to hear what the other side was saying. At the start of the war, simply because there was more to brag about, the German news reports were considered, by some people, to contain slightly more truth than those of the BBC.

As the tide turned in the latter stages of the war Joyce and his wife moved to Hamburg. On the 22nd April 1945 he wrote in his diary:

Has it all been worthwhile? I think not. National Socialism is a fine cause, but most of the Germans, not all, are bloody fools.

Eight days later, and on the very day that Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide in their Berlin Bunker, Joyce made his last drunken broadcast — the remains of his Irish accent can be heard through his slurring voice.

At the end of the war William and his wife Margaret fled to a town called Flensburg near the German/Denmark border and it was there, in a nearby wood, that Joyce was captured by two soldiers. They, like Joyce, were out looking for firewood. Joyce stopped to say hello and one of the soldiers asked “You wouldn’t by any chance be William Joyce, would you?”. To ‘prove’ otherwise, Joyce reached for his false passport and one of the soldiers, thinking he was reaching for a gun, shot him through the buttocks, leaving four wounds.

The arrest was utter poetic justice. The soldier who had shot the infamous broadcaster was called Geoffrey Perry, however, he had been born into a German jewish family as Hourst Pinschewer and had only arrived in England to escape from Hitler’s persecutions. So in the end a German Jew, who had become English had arrested an Irish/American who pretended to be English but had become German.

Back in London, he was charged at Bow Street Magistrates court and in the dock he quietly stated “I have heard the charge and take cognisance of it.” He was subsequently driven to Brixton Prison in a Black Maria and on arrival, he said “So this is Brixton.” “Yes,” retorted his guard, “not Belsen.”

The trial of William Joyce began on 17 september 1945 and for a short period of time, when his American nationality came to light, it seemed that he might be acquitted. “How could anyone be convicted of betraying a country that wasn’t his own?” It was argued. However, the Attorney General, Sir Hartley Shawcross, successfully argued that Joyce’s possession of a British passport (even if he had misrepresented himself to get it) entitled him to diplomatic protection in Germany and therefore he owed allegiance to the King at the time he started working for the Germans.

It was on this contrived technicality that Joyce was convicted of treason on 19th September 1945. The penalty of which, of course, was death.

A sizeable minority of the population were uncomfortable with the verdict mainly because of the nationality issue but also because he was alway seen as a bit of a joke-figure rather than someone trying to bring the country down. On Christmas day 1945 an accountant named Edgar Bray wrote to the King:

I know nothing about Joyce, and nothing about his Politics. I don’t know much about Law either, but I do know enough to be firmly convinced that we are proposing to hang Joyce for the crime of pretending to be an Englishman which crime, so far as I am aware, in no possible case carries a Capital penalty. It happens to be just our bad luck, that Joyce actually WAS an American, (and now IS a German subject), but that is no reason to hang him, because we are annoyed at our bad luck.

The historian AJP Taylor made the point that Joyce was essentially hanged for making a false statement on a passport — the usual penalty for which was a paltry fine of just two pounds.

Not long after Albert Pierrepoint’s expert execution and with the blood from Joyce’s scar, that had burst open during the hanging, still dripping onto a spreading red stain on the canvas floor, the body was taken to the prison mortuary. A coroner pronounced that the death was due to “injury to the brain and spinal cord, consequent upon judicial hanging”.

There were specific rules pertaining to the burial of executed prisoners at the time, and William Joyce’s body was treated as any other. True to the normal rules he was buried within the Wandsworth Prison walls, in an unmarked grave, and was allowed no mourners. The body was dumped in the middle of the night, literally unceremoniously, on top of the remains of another man, a murderer called Robert Blaine who had been hanged five days previously.

In total 135 people were hanged at Wandsworth Prison during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with the final execution taking place when Henryk Niemasz was hanged on 8 September 1961 for murder of Mr and Mrs Buxton in Brixton.

Incidentally the gallows at Wandsworth were not dismantled until 1993, 29 years after the last execution in this country and 24 years after the death penalty was abolished for murder. Incidentally the death penalty still existed for treason until 1998.

The condemned cell is now used as a television room for prison officers.










The British Free Corps was formed in January of 1944 from a group of British and Commonwealth volunteers under German control known as the Legion of St. George. Technically this formation had been a part of the Waffen-SS ever since its original creation, but it was formally accepted into the Waffen-SS upon being named the British Free Corps.

Upon acceptance into the Waffen-SS, the BFC was given German uniforms and a number of unique and colorful insignia. The insignia included a Union Jack shield that was worn on the left arm, a Lion of St. George collar patch, and later towards the end of the war, a British Free Corps cuff title. Without a doubt such elaborate insignia was designed and issued to the BFC for propaganda purposes.

The first commander of the BFK was Hauptsturmführer Johannes Roggenfeld, formerly of the 5.SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Wiking and a decorated veteran of the Eastern Front. It is reported that he had lived in the United States before WWII and spoke fluent English. Another English speaking German SS-Hauptsturmührer named Roepke apparently shared administrative duties with the BFC at this time also.

In September of 1944, the BFC was moved to Dresden to the Pioneer Barracks located in the city which was the home of an SS Combat Engineer Training School and Replacement Battalion. While there it began its first real combat drill and training.

In October of 1944 the BFC was slated to be assigned to the III.SS-Panzer-Korps (Germanic) upon completion of its training. In February of 1945 it was deemed finished and began preperation for combat assignments within the III.SS-Panzer-Korps. Soon after the BFC had finished training, an Allied firebomb attack on Dresden took place in which tens of thousands of Germans were killed. It was felt that the BFC presented a burden to the local population who knew of the units location at the Pioneer Barracks, so it was therefore transfered from Dresden and sent north to the Stettin area to meet up with the 11.SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Nordland. At Stettin the unit was finally attached to the III.SS-Germanische Panzerkorps.

On March 22, 1945 the 11.SS-Pz.Gr.Div Nordland was given a respite from the Russian Front and Oder River and sent to regroup at Schwedt-Angermunde. It was there that the BFC joined the 11.SS-Pz.Aufklärungs-Abteilung under command of SS-Sturmbannführer Rudolf Saalbach. Half of the Britons were attached to the 1.Kompanie of the Aufklärungs-Abteilung in Schoenberg, Brandenburg, just north of Berlin, and the others were attached near Angermunde to the newly deployed 3.Kompanie – the Schwedenzug or Swedish Platoon, under command of Swedish SS-Hauptstrumführer Hans-Gosta Pehrsson. With the advent of the last battle on the Oder on April 16, 1945, Nordland was called into action to stem the Soviet offensive. At the last minute, before their OKW ordered deployment into the Berlin salient, Divisional commander SS-Gruppenführer Ziegler decided to leave the Britons in Angermunde camp while Nordland headed toward Berlin. It is not known for certain if members entered Berlin with Nordland or not, as some accounts claim yes, others claim no.

Like the Volkssturm Battalions and HJ units assigned by OKW to his weak Panzerkorps for last-ditch offensives in late April 1945 – Korps Commander Steiner also felt that the BFC was of very negligible combat value at best, and wanted nothing to do with their haphazard deployment and sure destruction in the Berlin Kessel. He left them to retreat westward to Templin, in Mecklenburg in late April 1945, where British forces were waiting on the other side of the Elbe.

Because of the BFC’s brief association with the SS-Nordland division on the Oder front in late March 1945, it is commonly assumed that they went into Berlin and fought a last-gasp defensive battle against the Russians. The fact is that there is no conclusive proof that any Englishman fought the Russians in Berlin wearing a German SS uniform, and there seem to be no Russian accounts of the Battle that detail such accounts, so this fact can not be readily accepted or denied at this time.



John Amery

John Amery (14 March 1912 ChelseaLondon [1] – 19 December 1945) was a British fascist who proposed to the Wehrmacht the formation of a British volunteer force (that subsequently became the British Free Corps) and made recruitment efforts and propaganda broadcasts for Nazi Germany. He was executed for treason after the war having pleaded guilty.

Early life

John Amery was the son of Leo Amery and brother of Julian Amery, both Members of Parliament and Conservative cabinet ministers.

Amery was a problem child who ran through a succession of private tutors.[2] Like his father, he was sent to Harrow, but left after only a year, being described by his housemaster as “without doubt, the most difficult boy I have ever tried to manage”. Living in his father’s shadow, he strove to make his own way by embarking on a career in film production. Over a period, he set up a number of independent companies, all of which failed; these endeavours rapidly led to bankruptcy.

At the age of 21, Amery married Una Wing, a former prostitute, but was never able to earn enough to keep her or himself, and was constantly appealing to his father for money.[2] A staunch anti-Communist, he came to embrace the fascist National Socialist doctrines of Nazi Germany on the grounds that they were the only alternative to Bolshevism. He left Britain permanently to live in France after being declared bankrupt in 1936. In Paris, he met the Frenchfascist leader Jacques Doriot, with whom he travelled to AustriaItaly, and Germany to witness the effects of fascism in those countries.

Amery claimed to his family that he joined Francisco Franco‘s Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and was awarded a medal of honour while serving as an intelligence officer with Italian volunteer forces. This was untrue although the lie achieved wide circulation. In fact Amery first visited Spain in 1939 after the civil war had ended and only stayed for a few weeks before returning to France, where he remained even after the German invasion and the creation of Vichy rule.

In Europe during World War II

Amery soon fell foul of the Vichy government and made several attempts to leave the area but was rebuffed. German armistice commissioner Graf Ceschi offered Amery the chance to leave France and go to Germany to work in the political arena, but Ceschi was unable to get Amery out of France.

In September 1942, Hauptmann Werner Plack got Amery what he wanted and in October, Plack and Amery went to Berlin to speak to the German English Committee. It was at this time that Amery suggested that the Germans consider forming a British anti-Bolshevik legion. Adolf Hitler was impressed by Amery and allowed him to remain in Germany as a guest of the Reich. In this period, Amery made a series of pro-German propaganda broadcasts over the radio, attempting to appeal to Britons.

The British Free Corps

The idea of a British force to fight the communists languished until Amery encountered Jacques Doriot during a visit to France in January 1943. Doriot was part of the LVF (Légion des Volontaires Français), a French volunteer force fighting with the Germans on the eastern front. Amery rekindled his idea of a British unit and aimed to recruit 50 to 100 men for propaganda purposes, and also to establish a core of men with which to attract additional members from British prisoners of war. He also suggested that such a unit could provide more recruits for the other military units made up of foreign nationals.

John Amery shortly after his arrest by Italian partisans at Milan

Amery’s first recruiting drive for what was initially to be called the British Legion of St. George took him to the Saint-Denis POW camp outside Paris. Amery addressed between 40 and 50 inmates from various British Commonwealth countries and handed out recruiting material. This first effort at recruitment was a complete failure, but he persisted. Amery ended up with two men, of whom only one, Kenneth Berry, joined what was later called the BFC. Amery’s link to the unit ended in October 1943, when the Waffen SS decided Amery’s services were no longer needed and it was officially renamed the British Free Corps. Amery continued to broadcast and write propaganda in Berlin until late 1944 when he travelled to Northern Italy to lend support to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini‘s Salò Republic. Amery was captured by Italian partisans in the last weeks of the war, who handed him over to the British authorities. The British army officer sent to take him into custody was Captain Alan Whicker.


After the war, Amery was tried for treason; in a preliminary hearing, he argued that he had never attacked Britain and was an anti-Communist, not a Nazi. At the same time, his brother Julian Amery attempted (by producing fraudulent documents) to show that he had become a Spanish citizen, and therefore would have been technically incapable of committing treason against the UK. His counsel, meanwhile, tried to show that the accused wasmentally ill.

However, these attempts at a defence were suddenly abandoned on the first day of his trial, 28 November 1945, when to general astonishment Amery pleaded guilty to eight charges of treason and was immediately sentenced to death. The entire proceedings lasted just eight minutes.

Before accepting Amery’s guilty plea the judge, Mr Justice Humphreys, made certain that Amery realised what the consequences would be, i.e. it guaranteed that he would immediately be sentenced to death by hanging, because there was no other permissible penalty. After satisfying himself that Amery fully understood the consequences of pleading guilty, the judge announced this verdict:

John Amery …, I am satisfied that you knew what you did and that you did it intentionally and deliberately after you had received warning from … your fellow countrymen that the course you were pursuing amounted to high treason. They called you a traitor and you heard them; but in spite of that you continued in that course. You now stand a self-confessed traitor to your King and country, and you have forfeited your right to live.

This is believed to be one of only two cases of a man pleading guilty to a charge of treason in the UK, the other being Summerset Fox in May 1654. After the discovery of fresh documentary evidence, the playwright Ronald Harwood concluded that Amery’s family would have been embarrassed because his father had hidden the fact that Leo Amery’s mother was Jewish (antisemitism was strong in Britain during the 1930s) in order to advance in the Conservative Party.[3]


Amery was hanged by Albert Pierrepoint, assisted by Henry Critchell, in Wandsworth Prison on 19 December 1945. In an article which was to be published in the Empire News and Sunday Chronicle, but which was suppressed as the result of pressure from the Home Office, Pierrepoint described him as “the bravest man I ever hanged”. Greeting the hangman at the appointed hour, Amery reportedly quipped: “Mr Pierrepoint, I’ve always wanted to meet you, but not, of course, under these circumstances…”. A proof copy of this article is in the Prison Commission files at the United Kingdom National Archives, but it is contradicted by another archive file: the Prison Commission official who wrote this stated that “Amery did extend his hand and said ‘Oh! Pierrepoint.’ Upon which Pierrepoint took his hand and placed it behind his back for pinioning and that the conversation was entirely limited to that remark”.[4] However Albert Pierrepoint himself described the meeting in a filmed interview he gave and admitted that he did shake Amery’s hand and did indeed like him; in fact, he said he spoke to Amery at length and felt “as if I had known him all my life”.[citation needed]

An epitaph written by his father appears The Empire At Bay (Barnes and Nicholson):

At end of wayward days he found a cause
“Twas not his Country’s” – Only time can tell
If that defiance of our ancient laws
Was treason or foreknowledge. He sleeps well. “