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Hitler's Hangmen (Hardback)

The Plot to Kill Churchill

WWII Greenhill Books Greenhill: WWII Hitler & the Third Reich Military

By Brian Lett
Greenhill Books
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781784385293
Published: 30th October 2019

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Before and after the outbreak of the Second World War, there were a number of sizable Fascist groups active in Britain, all of whom were working towards a violent uprising to overthrow the British government. These groups included The Right Club, led by Captain Jock Ramsey MP, Arnold Leese’s Imperial Fascist League and Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists.

When Churchill became Prime Minister in May 1940, Ramsay, Leese, Mosley and hundreds of their supporters were arrested and interned. They were released in 1943 and 1944, all the more embittered and just as intent on bringing about the installation of a Fascist Government in Britain, which Ramsay hoped to lead. Churchill was the man they hated most, under Chamberlain, they had remained free men, Churchill had interned them, and sworn to fight the Nazis to the bitter end, Britain under Churchill would never surrender.

In the autumn of 1944, Adolf Hitler made his last attempt to achieve victory in the west, or at least a favorable peace. He would then be free to concentrate on defeating the Soviet Union. In the Ardennes, he launched a massive counter attack, using dirty tricks and murdering prisoners, that has become known as the Battle of the Bulge, in Italy he counter attacked down the Serchio valley, and in the UK he gave orders for an uprising or escape in all of the German Camps under Nazi control, and in at least one of the Italian Fascist prisoner of war camps. A part of Hitler’s plan was the assassination, simultaneously, of both Churchill and Eisenhower.

This was the opportunity Ramsay had been waiting for. Under the cover of a “Social” for all those who had been released from detention, a meeting was arranged for the day of the breakout. They would join and aid the uprising, providing invaluable support. An organization called the Prisoners of War Assistance Society, set up by members of Leese’s organization, was to help the prisoners get out.

Two Nazi camps were to lead the Break Out, Camps No.23, Devizes, and No.17, Sheffield. The plot was discovered by chance at Camp 23 and foiled. Nazi Vehmic Court murders of suspected informers followed in relation to Camp 23, and at Camp 17. The plan was been to seize US military ambulances in Devizes, and tanks and armoured vehicles, and to advance on London. The ambulances would provide useful camouflage, in the same manner as captured US vehicles and uniforms were used in the Battle of the Bulge.

Waiting and willing to help them at the House of Commons in London was Jock Ramsay MP. He continued to serve as an MP after his release from four years detention, and when he attended the House he would sit within yards of his greatest enemy, Winston Churchill. In December 1944, Churchill was in London, and addressed the House of Commons on 14 and 20 December. Ramsay had the right to attend the House of Commons at all times, and his Right Club had once boasted eleven MPS amongst its members. He could provide the German task force with assistance in their attempt to kill or capture Churchill and other Cabinet Ministers, thus leaving Britain without its leaders at a vital moment.

A simultaneous plot to assassinate General Eisenhower was discovered during the Battle of the Bulge – it was known as “Eisenhower Aktion”, and involved English speaking Germans disguised as US soldiers and driving US vehicles.

This is the incredible, disturbing story of how close British Fascists came to impacting the outcome of the Second World War. It is also a comprehensive investigation into the Break Out Plot as it unfolded across Britain: how it came to fruition and how it was quashed, its repercussions and the many little-known stories of escape and recapture which took place throughout the country.

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About Brian Lett

Brian Lett is a QC whose interest in the history of special operations stems from his father's involvement with SOE and the SAS. He is the author of "SAS in Tuscany" and "Ian Fleming and Operation Postmaster", both published by Pen and Sword Books. He has homes in Somerset and Kew.

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