During WWII, British Intelligence bugged the conversations of over 10,000 German Prisoners of War at three stately houses: Trent Park, Latimer House and Wilton Park in Buckinghamshire. Trent Park (North London) was reserved for Hitler’s Generals and in an astonishing turn of events, they were housed in luxurious conditions and lulled into a false sense of security. By the end of the war, there were 59 of them under one roof. The Generals relaxed and became unguarded in their conversations. They inadvertently began to give away some of Hitler’s most closely guarded secrets, including discussions about the V1 (‘doodlebug’), V2 and atomic bomb programmes. For over 60 years the secret listeners (German-Jewish émigrés who had fled Hitler) who bugged the conversations, never spoke about their work, not even to their families. They died, little knowing that they, alongside Bletchley Park, shortened the war by up to 4 years. Having worked through the declassified files, historian Helen Fry sheds light on one of the least known, but greatest deceptions of WWII.
Helen has written numerous books on WWII and intelligence, including The London Cage about a clandestine wartime interrogation centre. Her latest is The Walls have Ears: The Greatest Intelligence Operation of WWII. She has appeared in TV documentaries, including David Jason’s Secret Service and Home Front Heroes (BBC1). Helen is deputy chair of Trent Park Museum Trust.