Luftwaffe in a Spin Over British Sporting Terminology

A while back, when I was researching my Battle of Britain book, I found a number of fascinating files in the The National Archives at Kew, London.  They were transcriptions of recorded conversations between Luftwaffe pilots shot down over Britain.  Evidently, they had been bugged and very interesting they were too with all sorts of revelations about morale, expectation of a German invasion, the Spitfire versus the Me109, aircraft shortage, speculation about the future of the war and so on.

For this film I’ve been making, we’ve been digging a little deeper and have since discovered that these buggings took place at Trent Park in North London.  It’s a huge country mansion, once owned by Sir Philip Sassoon, but which, in 1940, was the main interrogation centre for Squadron Leader Denys Felkin’s unit from Air Intelligence.  Apparently, all German pilots shot down were taken to Trent Park first before heading off to a POW camp.  They were even allowed to live in some comfort – presumably to encourage them to drop their guard.  It seemed to work because the transcripts of the buggings – if not the subsequent interrogations – are very revealing indeed.

But as we were filming there the other day, I was looking back through the transcripts once again and rediscovered a conversation that had made me laugh when I first came across it a couple of years ago.  Hopefully this will appeal to all cricket obsessives:

‘Leutnant 416 asked the Intelligence Officer what the term ‘googly’ meant.  He had read in a newspaper about so-called ‘googly shells’.  The IO explained the principle of making the ball break.  After IO went out, the following comment:

A416: ‘That’s nonsense, if they think it’s possible to shoot round the corner!’

(Bernard Bosanquet, right, the inventor of the ‘googly’ an off-break that appears to be a leg-break).

2 replies
  1. john shipman
    john shipman says:

    My father ( E A Shipman) shot down a Luftwaffe pilot (H Kettling) on 15/8/1940 and I am interested to find out if the pilots conversations were recorded and transcribed at Trent Park. I am therefore trying to find the source of the records. My fathers recollections are described in the book “One of The Few” ISBN – 184415687-7. Any help in defining the record references would be helpful.

  2. James Holland
    James Holland says:

    Hello John, You can find a lot more in my book with the various references at Kew etc, but most of the POW reports are in AIR 40/3071 or AIR 40/2400. The pilots are not named personally, though, I’m afraid.

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