The Execution of Lord Haw Haw at Wandsworth Prison in 1946

William Joyce

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 were 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.

Wandsworth Prison

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.

The gates of HMP Wandsworth around the time of William Joyce's execution

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.

The official declaration of William Joyce's execution pinned on the gates of the prison

The official notice of execution being pinned on the gates of Wandsworth Prison

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.

The bandage was covering twenty six stiches, he remained in hospital for two weeks

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.

William Joyce, on the far left, with Oswald Mosley in 1934

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.

Dorothy Eckersley

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.

Norman Baillie-Stewart - the real Lord Haw Haw

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.

William and Margaret Joyce in Germany

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.

The actual microphone and a script used by Joyce for his German broadcasts

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.

The Woods near the German/Denmark border where Joyce was shot and arrested

Margaret Joyce at her arrest in 1945

A well-guarded William Joyce after his arrest in Germany 1945

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.

Sir Hartley Shawcross, he later said that the trial of William Joyce was not one of which he was especially proud

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.

Interior of Wandsworth Prison

A cell in Wandsworth Prison in the late 1940s

Albert Pierrepoint

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.

Lord Haw Haw pontificating

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Germany Calling Germany Calling – Lord Haw-Haw broadcast on 27th February 1940
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68 Responses to “The Execution of Lord Haw Haw at Wandsworth Prison in 1946”

  1. michael says:

    ……..great piece,,,i am always reminded that at this time the only source of public information was the tabloid ; americans had better access to world news than anyone else and that was because we had more newspapers.
    Radio news was in its infantcy until Edward R Murrow;and we have enoyed a generation of excellent independent radio and television news until it sadly became entertainment of opinions paid for by monsanto or big oil .

    Great Britian had a class system; and Lord Haw Haw was speaking to the educated underclass in the end no one was listening and he paid the price
    of giving service and comfort to the enemy

    public information is now at the mercy of technology;
    which can be turned off and on like a switch ;
    and we can all tumble back into the dark age
    willing to raise our arms in a salute over jobs and our bowl of soup
    education and a free press are the backbones to democracy

  2. David Joyce says:

    Never once was prove given that William Joyce did commit an act of treason. And in his own admission the defence didn’t have much knowledge in law. Sadly deception is now too late for consideration and our governments haven’t been shy on calling on the Joyce family. 1970 the government asked our family to help with the new subs that never worked. Two hours later job done..
    1990 Would you believe again but this time was more direct with two members of the Joyce family being deployed on the front line of the Gulf war. Four days later Job done
    I hope our family never does get called on again because I never once has anyone said sorry for William Joyce or Thank you to other family members and to which I am ashamed to be considered British

  3. ALTHOUGH I HAVE HEARD OF HIM I DID NOT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HIM.HE

  4. Good post. I absolutely love this website. Thanks!

  5. Linda Klassen says:

    To David Joyce, should he ever pay another visit to this page: I want to express my own regrets that William Joyce was one among many targeted by the Jew-infested, Jew-controlled political and judicial venues, not only in Britain, but in America, Canada, Australia and other ‘goyim’ nations. William is joined by a long list of martyrs who received the same Jewish penalty via the so called ‘Nuremberg trials’, where the majority of those deciding the guilt of the accused were Jews and if not Jews, then American or British, which means the German victims were condemned to death by their wartime enemies.

    William probably knew that WWII was ignited by Poland who had colluded with Churchill to provoke Germany to retaliate to the Poles’ secretive attack, thereby granting Britain false cause for declaring war on Germany. William probably knew Hitler did not want war; that Hitler made many appeals to Britain to avert war, but that Jew-controlled Churchill insisted upon all out war in order to destroy all that Germany had accomplished in the global market under Hitler, so that Britain could regain economic supremacy, which it never did anyway.

    One day, just as Jesus Christ has promised, every secret shall be exposed where ALL may see it, and that includes the vile machinations involved in the lynching of William Joyce. In the meantime, be proud of your noble kin, William Joyce. I am proud of him and grateful for the integrity he showed by standing with ‘foreigners’ he saw were being set-up by Jew-controlled Britain, France, Russia and America.

  6. Nicky Nichols, Borehamwood, Herts, UK. says:

    Hello everyone !! The reason why I am reading this today is because I followed a series of logical links from a BBC news item about the discovery of a copy of a letter dated 1404 from Princess The Fabulous Nastya Of All The Russias to The Chief Constable Of Dorset England begging for a stay of execution in the dire case of Jonathan Trippe who was a famous British Government Spy.

  7. Hannah says:

    Lord haw haw is awesome

  8. John says:

    Fantastic piece! Many thanks for so many details of this Traitor!

  9. Roberto Mont says:

    The fact remains that both Joyce’s were traitors, and both should have been hung. During their time in Germany they must have seen or heard about many injustices committed by the Nazis on others, yet neither of them protested these acts, or disputed Hitler, Himmler and Goering personal vendettas, genocide/s, grudges and murders blatantly disguised as allowable acts of war?

    Their allegiance was to the King and country, when they deserted England they then became open ACTIVE traitors, ‘English citizens’ working for the German Nazi regime, our enemies, who had recruited them both for it’s broadcasting service – solely because they were ‘English citizens’ and for no other reason, meaning English citizens who were willing and able to wave the flag for Germany, and England be damned.

    David Joyce and the Joyce family should change their names and hide in shame over what their relation Wm Joyce did, people would respect them more if they openly admitted the man was an and out and out traitor, whom no living member of the Joyce family wishes to be ever associated with. A traitor to England, and himself and family.

  10. K R Bolton says:

    Loyalty to a treasonous government is not patriotism. As Joyce warned, Britain lost the peace. As Roosevelt reminded Churchill when drafting the Atlantic Charter, the war was fought over the issue of Free Trade, and Roosevelt was not about to allow the survival of any empire, whether German or British. Joyce likewise had stated that the war was being fought to maitain international finance, as Germany was encroaching on markets from central Europe to South America via Barter, and had secured prosperity in the depths of world depression through the simple expedient of state credit. Surely enough years have now passed to admit with hindsight that Joyce and others such as Mosley were correct in their predictions?

  11. Nomad says:

    For a greater understanding of the worldview and motives behind the Lord Haw Haw caricature, William Joyce’s book, Twilight Over England is well worth reading
    http://diggerfortruth.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/william-joyce.pdf

  12. Brian Smith says:

    As Albert Pierrepoint said in his biography / memoirs, he did NOT pull a lever. He pushed it down. The reason being that in pulling a lever up it could stick and jam, depressing it it could not. He released the brake and pushed it down. Always!!!

  13. Richard Ryan says:

    It is not the role of the ABC to act as Lord Haw Haw for the Abbott government. That is the job of the Murdoch Press.

  14. Derek fearon says:

    Mmm,very interesting story.nothing changes in this country.look up Karen hude.good luck.

  15. Great article : D

    William Joyce remained the number one broadcaster in Berlin and his criticism never faded in its virulence continuing to blame war on “Jewish International Finance.” (And real history confirms Joyce was correct)

    William was captured while going through a woods near Flensburg after the war; he received a bullet wound to the leg in the process. Joyce’s fate at the gallows was then merely a formality and so the JEWISH controlled British press whipped up all the hysteria they could reminding people that he was a snarling traitor. The British Government then passed the Treason Act 1945 THE DAY BEFORE Joyce was flown back to Britain.

    Joyce was then confined in a death cell at London’s Wandsworth Prison. In the cell next door was John Amery, the son of a British lord and the man who had tried to form British expatriates and sympathetic British POW’s into a Freicorp TO FIGHT on the German side.

    Joyce was executed five days AFTER John Amery on 3 January 1946. He was adamant and defiant to the end. He showed no emotion when confronted by allied propaganda and scenes from the work camps, blaming these deaths on starvation and disease CAUSED BY Allied bombing of German communication lines, NOT BECAUSE OF ANY EXTERMINATION POLICY TAKING PLACE. (Everyone witnessed these DEATHS which were occurring everywhere IN GERMANY and war-torn-Europe by the end of the war.)

    From: http://www.heretical.com/British/joyce.html

    Readers should note Ezra Pound was also singing the same tune about the dangers of Jewish International finance from his radio broadcasts in Italy. Read Ezra Pound Speaking: Radio Speeches of WWII.

    http://www.vho.org/aaargh/fran/livres10/PoundRadiospeeches.pdf

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  17. Jason says:

    Absolutely astonishing – comments by individuals who virtually hero-worship Joyce, either because they are fanatical Irish Nationalists, rabid anti-Semites or simply hate the Brits.

  18. Mark Green says:

    Should never have been hanged, didn’t the British believe this man should have free speech.

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