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THE MASTER SPY.

SHOT AT THE TOWER. William Johannes Roos, the German "master spy" in Scotland, in 1915, arrived in Edinburgh as a Dutch cigar merchant. He went to the >house of a Dutch sea captain, and (says a "Dundee Advertiser" correspondent) obtained, his hospitality by declaring that he was the brother of a Dutch girl who was to have become- the captain's maidservant, but was unable to fill the contract. . He stayed.in for a week, and from there "sent a mysterious telegram to Amsterdam: "Send twenty-five thousand cigars-—mix-tures."

Thts captain was suspicious of his visitor, and when Roos asked to be shown the Forth Bridge he determined to get rid of him, which he did. From Edinburgh he went to Aberdeen, and from there to Inverness, where he made his headquarters at a quiet hotel. His bedroom table- here presented quite an effeminate appearance, there being on it two perfume bottles, a perfume spray, and a powder box. A telegram which ran "Book no more orders," and which got lost, greatly upset the spy; but he continued his work, and induced a gentleman to take him for a motor drive to Beauly, Dingwall, and Cromarty Firth. On July 16 and 17 Roos and Yanssen were tried by court-martial, over which Lord Chelmsford presided. In the interval of six weeks between his visit to Inverness and his trial Roos had undergone a terrible change. His confident military, bearing had left him^ and his hair had turned completely white. He was only 32 years of age, but he looked an old and broken man. The charge against him was of collecting and sending information to the enemy, and the evidence was overwhelming. His telegram. from Edinburgh to Amsterdam, "Send 25,000 cigars—mixtures," when decoded meant: "There ;are 25 warships above the Forth Bridge—mixed classes." The telegram which had the words "Book no more orders," when decoded meant "Take no more risks." His innocent-looking perfume bottles, which nihiist"lia'Ve been on" the dressing-table in a.;good many hotels, contained— 1. Invisible, ink. 2. Chemical solution for bringing out invisible ink.' • 3. Vitriol spray. 4. The powder box contained saltpetre. Roos stood his trial like a brave man, said nothing,. and gave none of his accomplices away. Not so Yanssen. He turned King's evidence, and told the Court his whole connection with Roos. Produced in evidence against him, among other things, was a case in which were numerous packets supposed to contain Bird's custard powder. Each packet contained saltpetre, which, when associated with certain chemicals, becomes a high explosive. In the closing stages of his trial Yanssen went on his knees, wept and blubbered, and cried for mercy. But his guilt was co great that it was a hopeless appeal. The sentence of death on the master spy and his accomplice was confirmed, and on July 29 they were executed in the Tower.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG19190508.2.44

Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9604, 8 May 1919

Word Count
477

THE MASTER SPY. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9604, 8 May 1919

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