Burnopfield Folk Singer & Song Writer Mike Weston
Mike Weston and his wife Sheila moved from Manchester to Burnopfield in 1980. They have 3 children and 4 grand children. Sheila is a retired Teacher and retired Mike is a keen folk singer and songwriter. Mike has 'a thing' about forgotten heroes and his folk songs are a tribute to lesser known people in our region. He has researched two men "related to Burnopfield" one man born there, a WW2 Secret Agent (code named 'ZigZAG'), and one man who spent one of his formative years there, Physician John Snow)
Edward Arnold 'Eddie' Chapman (16 November 1914 Burnopfield, County Durham - 11 December 1997) was a pre-war criminal and wartime spy. During the Second World War he was recruited by Nazi Germany as a spy, but turned and became a British double agent code named '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.
Died: 11 December 1997 (aged 83)
Spouse(s): Betty Farmer 1938-1997
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 these crimes. 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.
Chapman was in prison for theft when the Channel Islands were occupied by the Germans who soon transferred him and 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 16 December 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 remained until his retirement in 1976.)
Chapman eventually 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 Chapman might take up crime again when his money ran out and if caught would plead for leniency because 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.
Chapman died on 20 December 1997 from undisclosed causes.
Finding Chapmans story of Chapman so interesting Mike wrote the following song:
Agent Zigzag (Tune: “Bonny Gateshead Lass”)
Now Eddie Chapman is my name, and it’s from Burnopfield I came
I hope you’ve heard my name before, if not it’s all the same
I was handsome I was charming, and my smile was so disarming,
I also had a naughty streak; safe-cracking was my game.
That time the French were turning tale, it found me fast in Jersey Jail
It wasn’t so very long after that the Germans did arrive
And in the twinkling of an eye, I offered myself as a spy
If you’re daft enough to ask me why, well honestly to survive.
There in a German school for spies, I quickly found to my surprise,
I was welcome, liked, and happy as a member of the team,
But just to get back home alive, and then go straight to MI5,
And help out my own people, my ambition and my dream.
Soon both sides opened their war-chests to subsidise a few love-nests,
For fiddling, sex and danger, it was just my sort of game,
But vain ambition beckoned, and so thus it was I reckoned
They should let me wipe out Hitler and gain everlasting fame.
But they wouldn’t let me try it, it’s a shame I won’t deny it,
But I faked a bomb at De Havilland’s, helped send V1’s astray,
And though I got the Iron Cross, my own side thought me one dead loss,
Some boasts to pals made them quite cross, they sent me on my way.
A charming womaniser, yes, a Nazi sympathiser, no,
A patriot, opportunist, masterspy or bloody thief
A death-defying hero, a bullshitting bloody zero
Go and form your own opinion, I care nowt for your belief!
John Snow Physician
John Snow (15 March 1813 - 16 June 1858) was a British physician and a leader in the adoption of anaesthesia and medical hygiene. He is considered to be one of the fathers of epidemiology, because of his work in tracing the source of a cholera outbreak in Soho, England, in 1854.
Early life and education
Snow was born 15 March 1813 in York, England. He was the first of nine children born to William and Frances Snow in their North Street home. His neighbourhood was one of the poorest in the city and was always in danger of flooding because of its proximity to the River Ouse. His father worked in the local coal yards, which were constantly replenished from the Yorkshire coalfields via barges on the Ouse. Snow was baptised Anglican at the church of All Saints, North Street.
Snow studied in York until the age of 14, when he was apprenticed to William Hardcastle, a surgeon in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and physician to George Stephenson and family. William Hardcastle was a friend of Snow's uncle, Charles Empson, who was both a witness to Hardcastle's marriage and executor of his will. Charles Empsom also went to school with Robert Stephenson and it was probably through these connections that Snow acquired his apprenticeship so far from his home town of York. Snow later worked as a colliery surgeon. Between 1833 and 1836 he was an assistant in practice, first in Burnopfield, Durham, and then in Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire. In October 1836 he enrolled as a student at the Hunterian school of medicine in Great Windmill Street, London. A year later, he began working at the Westminster Hospital and was admitted a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England on 2 May 1838. He graduated from the University of London in December 1844, and was admitted to the Royal College of Physicians in 1850
Snow was one of the first physicians to study and calculate dosages for the use of ether and also chloroform as surgical anaesthesia. He personally administered chloroform to Queen Victoria when she gave birth to the last two of her nine children,
Snow was a skeptic of the then-dominant miasma theory that stated that diseases such as cholera or the Black Death were caused by pollution or a noxious form of "bad air". The germ theory was not widely accepted at this time, so he was unaware of the mechanism by which the disease was transmitted, but evidence led him to believe that it was not due to breathing foul air. He first publicized his theory in an essay "On the Mode of Communication of Cholera" in 1849. In 1855 a second edition was published, with a much more elaborate investigation of the effect of the water-supply in the Soho, London epidemic of 1854.
John Snow, Physician
1) I was John Snow, physician – in the history books it’s written
Met cholera in Killingworth treating miners in my teens
But I stopped the spread of cholera in England’s filthy capital
Pioneer of anaesthesia, eased the labours of our queen.
My thoughts, my toil keep you all safe today
Perhaps your hearts will hear me when I say
That all my fame, my name I’d freely give
If only they had listened whilst I lived.
2) They were certain deadly cholera was spread upon the stinking air
Washed my hands and boiled my water –told them, do the same as me
I kept pointing out the patterns in the pockets of infection
But like the Broad St water pump they were deaf and couldn’t see.
They would not heed my good advice in 49
Nor in 54, though I’d proved it by that time
Thousands were lost, but no-one would heed somehow
I thank the Lord that at least they’ve listened now.
3) Henry Whitehead was a parson, thought he’d prove that I talked nonsense,
But like Paul outside Damascus not afraid to change his mind
But the sort who’d use a poultice upon seven different patients
Like the quacks who killed with chloroform, were not the learning kind.
4) So young man if you would listen to advice from this physician
Best beware the clever clamour, pay attention to the facts
Don’t just wed a pretty theory cos the detail’s dull and dreary
You could end up blue and naked when reality attacks.
(repeat last line)
Log in to: www.myspace.com/mikeweston2 to hear a small selection of Mike's songs including 'Dr Snow'.
Mike has written about three other north-east heroes, Thomas Brown of North Shields ("forgotten heroes of hms petard", see Thomas Brown room, saville exchange, north shields) and isaac holden, see www.northumberlandlife.org/teatrail , and Thomas Hepburn, first leader of the miner's union. None of those three are quite as local, of course. The teatrail thing is run by a keen local historian, email@example.com
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