Jack Hadden in Ortona, Italy, January 1944.Jack Hadden
Discharge Certificate of Jack Hadden, issued on August 31st, 1945.Jack Hadden
Mr. Hadden and his wife in present day.Jack Hadden
"We traveled in pairs, and went into various towns, and we had lists of who the agents were who were coming through because the British agents were in the school at Lake Como, it was a German spy school."
Then I was suddenly taken out of the infantry, and put into a course in intelligence at Aldershot [England], which is in January 1943. As soon as that course was finished, I was transferred to the 1st Division, up to Glasgow [Scotland] and sailed and landed with my little motorbike on the shores of Sicily with the 1st Canadian Division. And we were attached to the British 8th Army, who had just finished out of Africa. We did intelligence work, which is actually counter-espionage, making sure that any German agents who came through the lines were caught.
Later on, we traveled in pairs. There were only 12 of us to a division. We traveled in pairs, and went into various towns, and we had lists of who the agents were who were coming through because the British agents were in the school at Lake Como, it was a German spy school. And one of the waiters at the school was a British agent. So we had the lists of all the German agents who were going to be coming through in Italy on hand. And we just sort of waited for them to come through and we got them.
We had two things to consider at the start. First of all, when we landed in Sicily, we were still at war with the Italians. So it was a case of making sure that there were no Italians enemy agents or German ones who were left behind to disrupt things. We learned to speak, read and write Italian very quickly of course. Some of the fellows spoke German. I didn’t, I just could get by in German.
And there was a case of tracking them down and jailing them, policing them, sending them to jail, to protect our own troops. Because they were in familiar territory, we weren’t. And you wanted to make sure that there was no enemy agents working against us. And as you advance, we had advanced up Italy, you had new towns and new enemy agents. You had the old local Fascist party who were still very pro-German, and you had to make sure that they weren’t causing any damage. We covered the whole front of the 1st Canadian Division was in, so the two of us would be, maybe a couple of us in, in one town and five miles away, there’s a couple more in another town. And we kept reporting and arresting, and doing this counter-espionage against the other enemy.
They were fairly astute. They were well trained in their own method. I know that in the last town that we were in, in Bagnacavallo [Italy], we heard from our representative that there were going to be two women agents come through at Bagnacavallo, which was the territory that I was in. So we couldn’t figure out, we missed them. The first we heard was that British had caught the one of them, and, of course, they were sending nasty notes to us as to why we had not caught them. But we found out that the Germans had said, “Well, we’re in front of the Canadians. What we’ll do is we’ll send you this woman. We’ll fire over your head, you scream and for sure, some Canadian is going to rescue you.” Just like clockwork. She ran, they fired over her head, she screamed, the Canadians picked up this woman agent and kept her for a while. And then sent her down to her place where she was going to go with a special pass. We could have killed him, however, eventually we found out what had happened. We got a hold of the Canadian Major who had protected her. He was in hospital with a bad disease. So that taught him a lesson. It also taught us one.
We caught the other girl, no problem at all. She admitted that she was an agent, she was from Florence [Italy]. We arrested her, sent her down to trial, and I think she was jailed until the end of the war and then they were all released. But that was a good school at Lake Como that the Germans had, teaching enemy agents and their own agents what to do. Her job, one of the woman’s jobs is to go to a Canadian car park and just put sugar in the gas tanks, which really kills an engine in a truck, and it isn’t expensive. That’s the kind of thing they were doing.