Archive for Spy

26 October 1915 – Irvin Guy Ries

Posted in Death penalty, Firing squad with tags , , , , , , on October 26 by Last Writes

A clutch of spies were found and executed during World War I. And it was Irving Guy Ries’s turn to die today in 1915.

American-born Ries had been found guilty of spying for German and of treason following a spate of unusual activities and dealings with known secret agent contacts.

His cover was blown open by the infant organisation MO5, which was later to morph into MI5 in 1916. The then recently formed organisation busted the covert operation to feed Germany secrets, according to the National Archives.

Ries (his alias) was court martialled and found guilty of espionage and automatically banged up in the Tower of London, where his execution was to take place. The 55-year-old sat tied to a chair facing his firing squad, which was made up of the Scots Guards before being peppered full of bullets.

Other spies before and after him received the same fate over a period of 14 months. Only two bucked the trend by being hanged at London’s Pentonville and Wandsworth prisons.

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19 October 1915 – Fernando Buschman

Posted in Death penalty, Firing squad with tags , , , , , , , on October 19 by Last Writes

Fernando Buschman

Fernando Buschman

If faced with certain death, how would you spend your last night?

In Fernando Buschman’s case, he spent the night playing his violin before kissing it and saying ‘Goodbye, I shall not want you any more,’ according to the book ‘The Trial in History’1.

And he was right, he wouldn’t be needing it again, for Buschman stood accused of spying for the Germans during World War I and was executed on this day in 1915.

Brazilian by birth, Buschman and his parents had relocated to Holland and he eventually wound up importing food between Germany, the UK and Brazil. At least, that was his story.

Spy ties

As a result he would often come to London and when the First World War kicked off the infant organisation MI5 clocked him corresponding with two dodgy addresses in Rotterdam. These addresses had been linked to known espionage activities, so the connection was immediately made.

His main focus was on Portsmouth and Southampton – apparently because he was into shipping food. But these were crucial British ports and, to this day they have strong navy presence too.

But one of the main clinchers was that Buschman was also in contact with a man known to be a key coordinator for German spies, says war researcher Stephen Stratford.

Security threat

These juicy bits of evidence were enough to ensure the Brazilian was hauled up for questioning and slung in the Tower of London on the basis that he was a threat to national security. There then followed a court-martial where he was found guilty of being a double agent.

Buschman was banged up in the Tower and it was there that he faced his death too, literally, as he refused to be blindfolded as was the normal procedure. He was put before a firing squad on this day in 1915 as one of 13 men who were found guilty and shot for espionage during the war.

1 The Trial in History: Volume I by Maureen Mulholland, Brian S. Pullan, R. A. Melikan, Anne Pullan.

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27 July 1920 – Arthur Goslett

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , , , , on July 27 by Last Writes

When a polygamist amasses marriages, it stands to reason he’s not bothered about finding legal ways to get shot of extraneous wives.

Murder most foul

The man in question was Arthur Andrew Goslett, who was strung up for his foul methods.

That Goslett was keener on some of his spouses than others was apparent, as the unfortunate Evelyn Goslett found out. Her body was found in the River Brent, in north London.

Naturally the blame fell squarely at Goslett’s door and he was soon taken in to explain himself.

Spy suspect

Funnily enough, the engineer was already known to the fuzz. The South African had not long been accused of spying during World War I, which he’d hotly denied. However, eventually Goslett had been let off.

Similarly, he tried the same tack with the murder charge. Indeed, Goslett was to deny it a number of times during a series of statements, but his story began to unravel. Each version started to differ slightly, and the suspicious inconsistencies meant that he was had up for trial at the Old Bailey.

There, Goslett was unable to prove his innocence and the 44-year-old was sentenced to death.

John Ellis did the honours at Pentonville gallows on this day in 1920.

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