GERMANY calling, Germany calling... The upper-class nasal tones of the wartime traitor William Joyce mesmerised up to six million radio listeners during the Second World War. Last night it emerged that they may have had a Yorkshire lilt.
Joyce, a former member of Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, whose propaganda broadcasts from Nazi-occupied Europe earned him the nickname Lord Haw-Haw, was actually Brooklyn-born, of Irish descent.
But a church group has been awarded £31,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund to investigate suggestions that he spent the years between the wars in South Yorkshire and North East Derbyshire.
Richard Godley, of St Matthew’s Church Group in Renishaw, south of Sheffield, said: “I’ve heard multiple people talk about him being resident in the area down the years. It’s going to be interesting to confirm if one of the most notorious figures of the war was here and, if he was, what he was doing here.”
Joyce, who was hanged for treason at Wandsworth Prison in 1946, had fled to Germany shortly before the hostilities, having learned that the British authorities planned to detain him as a suspected Nazi sympathiser.
He had spent most of the 1930s as propaganda director the British Fascists, and was thought to have based himself in Sussex, although he was sacked by Mosley in 1937.
Hitler awarded Joyce the War Merit Cross for his propaganda efforts, which ended in 1945 with a defiant and drunken “Heil Hitler and farewell”, as Berlin burned.