In London

Juan Pujol did his intelligence work from an office on Jermyn Street –near the headquarters of MI5– and lived in a discreet middle class house in Hendon, north London, with his family –his wife, Araceli; his eldest son, Juan, and the youngest, Jorge, who was born in the British capital in 1942–. In the afternoon he had English classes at the Berlitz Academy.

At that time London suffered the terrible German bombings. Juan, his son, remembers that when the bombs dropped his mother put them in small cribs, tied with belts to prevent them from moving.

This is how his father describes the bombings with the V-2, the world’s first long-range combat ballistic missile:

LV-2’s were more frightening than V-1’s. On 8 September at 6:43 pm there was a screaming noise followed by a great explosion, which shattered about twenty buildings in the centre of London. Sixteen seconds later a whole block disappeared in another part of London, literally falling down like a house of cards. No one had heard the characteristic whine of the V-1’s engine nor seen any plane in the sky. This was the beginning of the V-2’s.

The first V-2 fell on a school and killed seventy-eight children. No one know where it had come from. It seemed to fall straight out of the stratosphere and it left a crater over eight metres deep. Everyone was surprised to find ice in these craters, a by-product of the rocket’s stratospheric route. There was no possible defence then known against these flying bombs.

Soon the Germans wanted to know exactly where the point of impact was for each V-2, so we sent them false information in order to make sure the rockets fell on the outskirts of London and not on the most densely inhabited areas, but doing this pricked my conscience. It was not easy to find areas of low population density near London and I was all too well aware that the least error could cost thousands of innocent lives.