Pierre Neukermans, 28, was a Belgian Army officer until he was invalided out in 1938. When his country was overrun by the Germans in 1940 he tried to cross into France, but found the frontier closed and returned to Brussels to assist in his father-in-law’s grocery business. He was subsequently recruited by the German secret service, and after training in sabotage and the wireless transmission of coded messages he was taken to Spain by German agents.

On July 16th, 1943, he flew to the UK from Lisbon, claiming he had escaped from occupied Belgium and had come to Britain to help the allies. He had been assisted in his escape, he said, by two men, one named Louis, the other Georges.

He was released after interrogation and obtained employment in a Belgian government office in London. But on February 2nd, 1944, he was rearrested, and under further questioning he admitted he was a German agent. The Louis and Georges he had mentioned earlier were Louis Debray and Georges Hollevoet, German agents well known to British Intelligence, and Neukermans admitted he knew they were acting for his spymasters in Brussels.

At his Old Bailey trial the defence did not deny that he had committed acts of spying, but called evidence in a bid to obtain a verdict of guilty but insane.

Dr. W.H.B. Stoddart told the court that Neukermans had disorders indicating a mental disease, but under cross-examination he said he did not consider him to be legally insane. The plea of insanity was not pursued, and Neukermans was convicted and sentenced to death by Mr. Justice Macnaghten.

Neukermans’ appeal was dismissed, but as he had attempted suicide while in custody, two doctors were appointed to examine him and his medical history. They concluded that he was sane, his claimed disorders having been assumed to support his plea of insanity, and he was hanged by Albert Pierrepoint and Alex Riley on JUNE 23rd, 1944.