19th September 1945. ‘Lord Haw Haw’.
Today in 1945 ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ (William Joyce) who from 1941 had been involved in anti-British radio propaganda from Germany, was sentenced to death on one count of High Treason.
However it went to the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords but rejected by 4-1. The sentence of hanging was carried out in January.(1)
The jurisdiction of the Courts was later brought into question as Joyce, the son of Irish parents, was born in America and had obtained a British Passport under false pretences before the war.
However the Attorney-General argued he had enjoyed diplomatic protection whilst in Germany, and considered he owed an allegiance to this country by possessing a British passport.
Joyce joined the British Union of Fascists (BUP) in 1932, and was recruited for the Nazi cause, after fleeing to Germany in August 1939 to escape internment, by Dorothy Eckersley, wife of the chief BBC engineer.
Haw Haw’s familiar cut-glass sneering English accent was heard nightly from 1939 at 6 pm., with his announcement of ‘Germany Calling! Germany Calling’!
However in these early days, the voice could have been one of many British fascists, as opposed to Joyce.(2)
Eventually the BBC and Ministry of Information (MOI) decided to laugh him out of existence by putting comedians such Arthur Askey, George Formby and Gracie Fields on the radio at the time of the German propaganda..
Also impresario George Black put comedian Max Miller on at the Holborn Empire, London with a production called ‘HAW-HAW’, a ‘delicious fantasy’ mocking of the broadcasts.
The Western Brothers a famous singing duo of the time sang: ‘Lord Haw-Haw Humbug of Hamburg’. The Press treated it all in a similarly humorous way, as the Punch cartoon below.
However despite all the humour, underneath it must have affected the British psyche listening to their radios, as he seemed to know much about secret naval and military dispositions as well as intimate details of our domestic life.
The name Lord Haw-Haw was coined by the pseudonymous Jonah Barrington in the Express in 1939, after listening on the paper’s short-wave station in Surrey.
On 14th September 1939, he wrote: ‘A gent I’d like to meet is moaning periodically from Zeesen overseas. He speaks English of the Haw Haw ”damit get out of my way variety”.’
However he was wrong in imagining a Wodehouse, Bertie Wooster upper-class character, for Joyce turned out to be nothing of the sort, having a giant scar from right eye to lip. (3)
There is evidence that the words Haw-Haw, were first attributed to the 7th Earl Cardigan of Crimea War fame.(4)
(1) On 3.1.1946, at Wandsworth Gaol, by hangman Albert Pierrepoint.
(2) Joyce started broadcasting at 7 pm, April 24th 1941.
(3) Real name Cyril Dalmain.
(4) Quoted in Wikipedia reference relating to a publication by W.Russell, 1895.
Ref: Day We Went to War. Terry Chapman 2010.
Ref: express.co.uk/should-lord-haw-haw-have been hanged?
Ref: broadcastellan.blogspot.com/image of book.
Ref: dailymail.co.uk/image of front page.