Commando who came back a spy

Here are two ordinary looking POW postcards.

 

The first from Oflag VI/B (Warburg) dated 1st June 1942, the second from Oflag VII/B (Eichstatt) dated 20th March 1943.

Both cards are from Lieutenant Hubert Nicolle to a Mr V Coysh in Poole Dorset. These types of cards would be in a dealers stock priced at £5-£10 each. But……

 

Lt Nicolle was a Guernsey man who was serving in the

Hampshire Regiment at the time the Germans occupied

the Channel Islands on the 30th June 1940. He was

summoned to the Admiralty in Whitehall on 5th July

1940. There he met Major Warren of Combined Operations

who had been instructed to find out what was going on

in Guernsey by Churchill. A plan, code-named Operation

Anger, was hatched and Nicolle was warned that if

caught he would be on his own and shot for spying.

In the early hours of 8th July Nicolle was landed at Le

Jaonnet, Guernsey, having crossed the Channel in a 

submarine, H43 and then by canoe purchased the previous

day from Gamages. He stayed for three days at his

parents’ home and gathered significant intelligence on the German disposition at that time. 

 

A second spying operation ensued and on 4th September 1940 Lieutenant James Symes and  Nicolle were landed from a Motor Torpedo Boat. The mission was to again gather evidence of troop movements, gun emplacements, defences and the well-being of the islanders. They were due to be collected by the same MTB three nights later but it failed to

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ensuing German investigation 14 friends and family were arrested. Nicolle and Symes, both 21, were both court martialled and stood trial in their prison cells without any legal representation and found guilty of spying. They were sentenced to death. Fortunately after intervention from the German Commandant in Guernsey they were, eventually, treated as Prisoners of War.

 

One of the 14 arrested was Jessie Marriette. She was Nicolle’s girlfriend and a cousin of Victor Coysh, who was Nicolle’s best friend.

 

For their actions in this commando raid Nicolle and Symes received the Military Cross. There is of course much more to this story, all of which can be found in the book “The Commando Who Came Home to Spy” by William Bell.

 

Now put a price on these two ordinary POW cards! 

BARRY MUDIE

Further reading:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2016/06/13/major-jim-symes--obituary/

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/obituary-hubert-nicolle-1175816.html

show. For a further two nights they returned to the pick-up point but the Royal Navy did not show. Symes and Nicolle were in civilian clothes in German occupied Guernsey relying on friends and family to hide them until an escape plan could be devised.

The risks were high for all involved and the Germans were becoming increasingly suspicious of some senior Island officials after various reports were received from anonymous sources.

Guernsey Militia uniforms were found in storage and purloined. British Army buttons were sewn on and then Nicolle and Symes surrendered to the Island police on the 21st October 1940. In the