War hero lived to tell tale after gallows failure
WIDOW Barbara Seth has republished the remarkable story of her late husband’s time as a wartime secret agent as a personal tribute to his bravery.
As an RAF officer Ronald Seth volunteered for the Special Operations Executive in 1942 and was dropped into occupied Estonia where before the war he had been professor of literature at Tallinn University.
But on landing he lost his radio and equipment and was betrayed by a Nazi sympathiser to the Gestapo.
He resisted 120 hours of torture before being sentenced to death. Mr Seth escaped the German gallows when the hanging mechanism failed to work with the rope round his neck.
It was found later his former students had blocked the trap door. But the torture in prison continued and he was forced to be a counter-spy sending false messages to Britain.
To save his life he volunteered to help the Germans. Sent to Luftwaffe headquarters in Paris he contacted the French Resistance and was again caught.
Still convinced by his story that he was a Nazi sympathiser the Germans then sent him to a British prisoner-of-war camp as a stool pigeon.
With the Allies advancing in 1945, Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler sent him to Switzerland for a mission to return to England with offers of peace to Winston Churchill.
Once safely in the British Embassy he revealed himself as an SOE officer.
Mr Seth’s story A Spy Has No Friends was first published after the war but has been long out of print.
His second wife Mrs Seth, 87, who has lived in retirement in Jarmans Field, Wye, for the past quarter of a century since his death, said: “It is an amazing story and it still makes me upset to read it.
“It would make a remarkable film and actor John Hurt has
shown some interest.”
HAVE you got any stories or pictures from the past that you would be willing to share with readers? If so send them, with brief details, to Mike Bennett, Kentish Express Remember When, 34-36 North Street, Ashford, Kent, TN24 8JR.
Barbara Seth with her late husband’s book – ‘it still makes me upset to read it’
Ronald Seth, whose book is on sale again