Edward Arnold "Eddie" Chapman (November 16, 1914, Burnopfield, County Durham, – December 11, 1997) was a pre-war criminal and wartime spy. During the Second World War, he was recruited by Nazi Germany as a spy, but he turned and became a British double agent (code named Agent Zigzag). He had a number of aliases known by the British police, amongst them Edward Edwards, Arnold Thompson and Edward Simpson. His German codename was Fritz or later its diminutive, Fritzchen.
After serving with the Coldstream Guards in the 1930s, Chapman deserted and became a safecracker with London West End gangs, and spent several stretches in jail for the crime. He had affairs with a number of women on the fringe of London high society and then blackmailed them with photographs taken by an accomplice.
He was arrested in Scotland and charged with blowing the safe of the headquarters of the Edinburgh Co-operative Society. Let out on bail, he fled to the island of Jersey where he continued his double career and was eventually sentenced to fifteen years' imprisonment for cracking the safe of a large dance hall.
Immediately before his arrest, he had been dining with his lover, Betty Farmer, at the Hotel de la Plage and made a spectacular exit through the dining room window (which was shut at the time), when he saw undercover police coming to arrest him for crimes on the mainland.
in the Second World War :
Chapman was in prison for theft when the Channel Islands were occupied by the Germans who soon transferred him, alongside Anthony Faramus, to Fort de Romainville in Paris. The Germans were later to recruit Chapman as an agent. He was trained in France (at La Bretonnière, near Nantes) and dispatched to England to commit acts of sabotage.
He was parachuted into Cambridgeshire on December 16, 1942 and handed himself in to the police before offering his services to MI5. Thanks to ULTRA, MI5 had prior knowledge of his mission. He was interrogated at Latchmere House in West London, better known as Camp 020. MI5 decided to use him against the Germans, and assigned Ronnie Reed as his case officer. (Reed had been invited to join MI5 in 1940, and stayed in it till his retirement in 1976.)
They faked a sabotage attack on his target, the de Havilland aircraft factory in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, where the Mosquito was built. He made his way back to Germany via Lisbon in Portugal. He made an offer to MI5 to make a suicide attack on Adolf Hitler on his return to Germany. Chapman's German handler Stephan von Gröning, known to Chapman as "Dr. Graumann", had previously told him that after a successful sabotage attack he would be put "in the first or second row" near Hitler's podium during a Nazi rally. Due to reasons undisclosed in official documents, the assassination attempt did not go through, and Chapman was asked "not to undertake any wild enterprises".
Chapman claimed to have received the Iron Cross, making him the first Englishman to receive such an award since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, though there is some doubt about this. It has been suggested that he actually received the War Merit Cross 2nd Class (Kriegsverdienstkreuz), as the Iron Cross was reserved for military personnel during the Third Reich period. He was also rewarded with 110,000 Reichmarks and his own yacht. In an assessment an MI5 officer wrote "The Germans came to love Chapman ... But although he went cynically through all the forms he did not reciprocate. Chapman loved himself, loved adventure and loved his country, probably in that order."
Chapman was sent to Norway to teach at a German spy school in Oslo. But after Operation Overlord, he was sent back to Britain to report on the accuracy of the V-1 weapon. Here he consistently reported to the Germans that the bombs were overshooting their central London target, when in fact they were undershooting. Perhaps as a result of this disinformation, the Germans never corrected their aim, with the end result that most bombs landed in the South London suburbs or the Kent countryside, doing far less damage than they otherwise would have done. After this he returned to Oslo with more false information.
Chapman achieved a unique record during the war, having at the same time, on opposite sides of the war, two fiancées, one in England (Freda Stevenson) and one in Norway (Dagmar Lahlum), each under the protection of and financially assisted by their respective governments. After the war, he abandoned both women and instead married his former pre-war lover Betty Farmer - whom he had left in a hurry at the Hotel de la Plage, Jersey, in 1938. Chapman and his wife later had a daughter, Suzanne
after the world war :
Eventually he retired with a £6,000 payment from MI5, and was allowed to keep £1,000 of the money the Germans had given him. He was granted a pardon for his pre-war activities and was reported by MI5 to have been living "in fashionable places in London always in the company of beautiful women of apparent culture."
MI5 expressed some apprehension that, when his money ran out, he might take up crime again and if caught, plead for leniency on grounds of his highly secret wartime service. He did get into trouble with the police for various crimes and more than once had a character reference from former intelligence officers, confirming his great contribution to the war effort.
Chapman and his wife later set up a health farm (Shenley Lodge, Shenley, Herts) and owned a castle in Ireland. After the war Chapman remained friends with Von Gröning, who by then had fallen on hard times.
He died on 20 December 1997, aged 83, from undisclosed causes.