The Amazing Jack Nissenthal
Jack Nissenthal was a remarkable man, whose tale of heroism in the Second World War is now all but forgotten. I first came across his story, when Radio 4 did a piece about the RAF Sergeant and radar expert who went on the raid at Dieppe to try to find out more about German radar. He was accompanied by eleven Canadian soldiers who were under orders to not let him get captured. In the end he didn’t meet his objective of dismantling the German radar station at Pourville, but by his quick thinking and his deep knowledge of radar systems, he was able to make the Germans give away enough of their important secrets, so that on D-Day, they were effectively without any useful radar systems.
After the raid he returned with just one of his Canadian escorts.
A follow up web site tells what happened to him afterwards.
Many including Lord Mountbatten, felt he should have been given a high award for gallantry, if not the highest. He eventually went to live in Canada, where his heroism was very much recognised. This is an extract from the web page.
In August 1967 Jack returned to Pourville for the 25th anniversary of the landings and met many old and decorated friends, including Les Thrussel. Les had always told friends the story of how he had orders to shoot a top British scientist on the raid had he been in danger of capture, but nobody believed him.
Now he met Jack and told him to tell Les’s friends the truth!
In a cafe in Dieppe that evening Jack sat reminiscing with the three VC’s of the raid – Merritt, Porteous and Foote. There was a loud knocking on the door and several young Canadian soldiers serving with NATO walked in. “We heard Jack Nissen was here and we want to shake his hand”. Jack recalled afterward, “There I was sitting with three VC’s and these young men wanted to shake ME by the hand. I was in tears. This was my reward and the highlight of my life”.
But he is not mentioned in any lists of famous people from the East End of London. He is mentioned in Wikipedia, but doesn’t have a section of his own.