The genius responsible for the change was Armin Hull, who had come to us from a balloon barrage unit. He was a printer who had made a special study of German typography and printing techniques.
Even before the war he regularly visited Germany and made a point of collecting specimens of German printing. He carried them all back with him in his baggage newspapers, tram tickets, commercial and private stationery, business forms, police `wanted' posters, and anything else he could lay his hands on. His greatest asset, however, from my point ofview, was that he had an unrivalled knowledge of where to look in Britain for the printing types we needed in our operations. Before the war, the British printing trade had imported a good deal of type from Germany. But it was scattered all over the country. Bit by bit Hull managed to hunt it down until he had assembled a fantastic mass of founts in our secret composing room. I recall that on one occasion before this type collection was formed he visited six printing firms during two days or so to collect the lines of type we required for counterfeiting the letterhead of the Reichsbank. The final result was absolutely identical with the original and probably only Hull could have achieved it.
He also had a first-class knowledge of the papermaking industry and arranged for British mills to counterfeit German papers and watermarks. Nor was he at a loss if it became necessary for us to forge signatures and handwriting. Once we needed to forge a letter written by K. E. Kraf£t, one of Goebbels's tame astrologers. Hull produced the perfect forgery within three days.
" How on earth did you do this one?" I asked him, fascinated as I always was by his technique." Oh," said Armin at his most off-hand, "I looked up a friend of mine at Scotland Yard and asked him whether he knew a good forger who would like to serve his King and Country in this way. He put me on to an artist doing time for forgery in Wormwood Scrubs, and there you are!"
Armin Hull was a great hand too at producing printing that looked exactly as if it had been produced by `underground' amateurs in a cellar. He had installed a tiny printing press in his office and often spent his evenings printing short runs of `sabotage' leaflets. He said that he could never find a professional printer capable of doing such work badly enough!
The fact of the matter was that Hull was a perfectionist. Not for him the near-perfect work which our opposite numbers working for Goebbels and SD chief Walter Schellenberg occasionally smuggled into Britain. I once showed him a little octavo sized anti-Jewish leaflet which had been picked up in a Soho pub. To me it looked genuine. It had a London imprint. The type in which it was set was type we use in Britain. The format was a British format. But Hull took only one look at it, and immediately pulled a small folding type scale out of his pocket." Made in Germany," he laughed when he had finished measuring. "This is set in Linotype Bodoni such as we also use in this country. But this lot has been cast on a German type body with a so-called Didot mould, which is fractionally larger than that for the English body and leaves a little more space between the lines. That, my dear Watson, gives it away."
" Humph," I pondered, and then a bright idea occured to me. "And do you use the Didot body for our fakes?"" Of course I do," Hull snorted indignantly. "The first thing that I did when we started this work was to get all the necessary type-casting moulds converted from English to Didot standard." One could not catch him out. He really was a champion counterfeiter.
Although our radio output had enjoyed the top priority, my team and I had worked hard during 1941, 1942 and most of 1943 on producing what I may call `black literature'. And there were quite a few bits of `evidence' Betty and I were able to spread on the plain deal table of my office before our clients from the underground. We called them `evidence' because they often backed up in documentary or other form the stories and campaigns we were putting over on the radio.
There was a round saucer-size sticker for instance headed `Six weeks in dock' with instructions for German U-boat men an how to sabotage a submarine diesel engine. We had `sold' this originally to the Norwegian Underground who had put it up all round the U-boat pens at Bergen and Trondjhem. Now I hoped to persuade the Poles to do the same for me at Gdynia and the French at Lorient and St. Nazaire.
The purpose of these stickers, as I explained to my clients, was not so much to get the crews to sabotage their boats, though it would be pleasant if they did, but to worry the German Security Service. If we could get the Gestapo flat-foots snooping around the boats, showing the U-boat men that they were suspect, that would help to undermine their pride and selfconfidence, and weaken their fighting morale.
Similar thinking underlay another exhibit-our handbook teaching Germans how to malinger and trick their doctors into granting them a spell of sick leave. We had got this up in a number of di$'erent disguises-as a German Navy handbook on Physical Training, as a Hymn book, as a railway time-table, as an almanac and even as a straightforward paper back of the Reclam Series with the title "Krankheit rettet . . . von Dr. med. Wilhelm Wohltat" ("Sickness Saves you by William Benefactor, M.D.").
One disguise which appealed to me-as a non-smoker- was a wafer-paper version which was packed inside a well-known German make of cigarette papers for smokers who `rolled their own'. In the P.T. handbook, as in the Hymn book and the time-tables, the first few pages were identical copies of the German original. In the cigarette packets too, the first papers were genuine cigarette papers. It was only when you got further inside all of these `covers' that our `health instructions' made their appearance.