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Call For Trent Park Museum

Discussion in 'WWII Today' started by The_Historian, Apr 11, 2016.

  1. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

    Oct 26, 2003
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    Stirling, Scotland
    Let's hope the museum idea takes off.
    "Trent Park, a stately home in north London, will soon be developed into luxury homes. But during World War Two, this grand red-brick building housed one of the most secret and significant British intelligence operations.
    And historians and local politicians say a substantial part should be preserved as a museum.
    Nearly 60 captured German generals were held at Trent Park, their conversations secretly monitored and recorded. There were even microphones hidden in trees to catch their exchanges as they strolled through the extensive well-tended park, part of it planted with a million daffodil bulbs - creating a vast white and yellow lawn in front of the house every spring.
    Trent Park was one of three World War Two eavesdropping centres and, campaigners say, the only one which could now be turned into a museum or memorial.

    Fritz Lustig, now 97, is one of very few surviving "listeners" (German speakers working for British intelligence), who monitored the conversations of prisoners of war.
    He worked at the other two centres, Latimer House and Wilton Park, both in Buckinghamshire. He strongly supports a museum at "Cockfosters" - the codename for Trent Park during the war.
    Fritz Lustig was one of about 100 "secret listeners" during World War Two
    Mr Lustig told me that listeners had to keep an ear across everything the Germans said - from the moment they woke until they went to sleep. The conversation was only recorded when it touched on certain sensitive topics. Then the listeners would switch on the gramophone.
    In all, according to historian Dr Helen Fry, at least 100,000 such conversations were recorded and transcribed in full and have been kept in the National Archives.
    Mr Lustig doubts the Germans knew they were being bugged. "They weren't very security conscious," he says. "The microphones were very good though - even when they turned the tap on to drown the conversations, we could still hear the words.""
  2. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Jun 20, 2002
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    London, England.
    I agree ( but don't hold out too much hope ).

    German historian Sonke Neitzel in recent years unearthed an incredible cache of material recorded at Trent Park and the results can be found in his books 'Tapping Hitler's Generals' and 'Soldaten', both of which are unique resources.
  3. lance shippey

    lance shippey New Member

    Oct 11, 2018
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    l was invited to Dr Helen Fry's "The London Cage" book launch on 24th Sept 2017
    at Forty Hall, near Enfield U.K. and expecting to meet Fritz Lustig, however he was
    in ill health, and was represented by his son Robin. Sadly Fritz passed away on 18th

    German historians Sonke Neitzel and Harald Welzer's book "Soldaten" give a great
    insight into 2nd. World War secret tapes of German P.O.W.'s.

    A recently published book "Castaways of the Kriegsmarine" by Naval historian DEREK
    NUDD gives a wonderful insight into Latimer House, and Wilton Park

    Lance shippey
    The_Historian and Martin Bull like this.
  4. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Jun 20, 2002
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    London, England.
    Thanks for reviving this thread, Lance ( & welcome to the Forums, BTW ! ).

    I know Forty Hall quite well - I imagine it's a nice venue for a book launch.

    In another coincidence, developers Berkeley Homes are a client of mine. Housing developers are not the most popular people in the UK so they're keen to display 'community spirit' - and it does indeed appear that a museum at Trent Park will, after all, be a reality...

    Trent Park Museum – Home of the Secret Listeners – The National 'Secret War' Museum
  5. harolds

    harolds Member

    Aug 9, 2011
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    About a year ago I read "Tapping Hitler's Generals" by Neitzel is quite a read. Monolithic those generals weren't! Not that my opinion matters, but I'd like to see a museum on those grounds.
  6. lance shippey

    lance shippey New Member

    Oct 11, 2018
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    Dear Martin,
    Thanks for the news. re. Trent Park. l look forward to the opening of the museum.
    l believe a new book is currently being written, about the interrogations at Trent

    I have a particular interest in Trent Park, and Latimer House, as my father, Marine
    Frank Shippey R.M. served at Plymouth div. and H.M.S. Spartiate (St Agnes Hotel)
    Glasgow, before joining H.M.S. Duke of York on the 20th August 1941. He would
    remain serving as R.M. on D.of Y. until 14th March 1945. After the sinking of German
    battleship Scharnhorst, survivors were transferred from H.M.S Scorpion , and H.M.S.
    Matchless to H.M.S. Duke of York. for their journey to Scapa Flow.

    A directive had come down to the Marines, that the survivors should be treated as
    survivors, rather than P.O.W.s (In order that the food rations would be better} My
    father was one of six marines, charged to guard the survivors. One of whom my
    father got to know, and spoke fluent English, albeit with an American accent. This
    was a young man, born in Yugoslavia, and at the age of two, was taken to Canada.
    He attended school in Canada, however had to speak German at home. Prior to
    the start or WW11, the family were suffering ill feeling in Canada, as they were German.
    The father had been fired from his job, so the family left Canada, via the U.S.A. and
    returned to Yugoslavia, the Germany. The teenage boy, was then to join the German
    navy, and sent to serve on Scharnhorst. He was one of the 36 survivors from a crew
    of 1968.

    On arrival in Scarpa Flow, my father was along with 5 other R.M.'s were tasked with
    escorting the survivors from Scotland to Latimer House and Wilton Park, where they
    would undergo interrogation, before being sent as P.O.W.s to Canada, and the U.S.A.
    My father met Prime Minister Winston Churchill, on arrival at either Latimer House, or
    Wilton Park. and asked by Mr Churchill "What have the prisoners been given to eat,
    whilst on the D.of York ? The answer my father gave was "The same as the Navy
    received Sir." This was not the first time my father came in contact with Mr Churchill,
    as the D.of Y. had transported him to Norfolk Virginia, to meet President Roosevelt.
    I have been researching where the meeting between my father and Mr. Churchill took
    place. Latimer House OR Wilton Park. which would have been around the 4th January

    Of the 36 survivors, 1 was exchanged via the Red Cross, and was used by the German
    Propaganda machine on his return to Germany. 27 were sent to P.O.W. camps in the
    U.S.A. and 7 sent to Canada, The final survivor either was sent to Canada, making 8
    to Canada. but l have found no evidence of his removal to Canada.

    I would be interested in hearing of information pertaining to Winston Churchill's visits
    to Latimer House and Wilton Park around 4th January 1944. These are not noted on
    a diary of appointments l located on a Canadian website,

    Lance Shippey.
    Martin Bull likes this.
  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran Patron  

    Feb 15, 2007
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    I walk in Trent Park once a week, with my daughter, and am fully acquainted with the mansion and it's past history.

    I sincerely hope that the new owners of the property carry out their proposed plans to start a museum on the site that will make visitors aware of the history of the house, including it's WW2 story.

    German POWs in Trent Park

    I shall watch this thread with much interest

    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018

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