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WWII spy’s last secret: who’s the boy?

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Censorship Book: Pictured left to right- Horst Augustinovic and Martin Buckley (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

An appeal was yesterday made for people to help identify the child in a 78-year-old mystery photograph found in the papers of a World War Two spymaster.

The photo turned up in a collection of letters linked to Victor Haag, who lived in Bermuda for more than three years as part of Britain’s mail censorship operation on the island.

Martin Buckley, the manager of The Bookmart at Brown & Co in Hamilton, is working with Horst Augustinovic, a historian and author, on a project on Mr Haag, which could be turned into a book.

He said: “It’s such a charming photo, we feel someone may well recognise the boy.

“The tantalising chance that he is still alive and well makes it all the more exciting.”

Mr Buckley added: “The photograph of the little Bermudian boy and his sandwich is included in a collection of Mr Haag’s letters to his fiancee in the UK, which Horst Augustinovic has recently acquired.

“We don’t know where on the island the photo was taken, but it is dated 1943.

“The letters offer an interesting glimpse into life here in Bermuda at that crucial time in our history and it is hoped to make them the subject of a forthcoming book.”

Mr Haag arrived on the island in 1940 and left in May 1944, a year before the war ended, when the British Imperial Censorship operation, based at the Hamilton Princess, shut down.

Mr Buckley said: “He was in Bermuda for 1,324 days which must have been one of the longest deployments.

“Before coming to Bermuda, he was a photographer at the Liverpool censorship headquarters and in Bermuda was assigned to the scientific and testing department where he was involved in photography, including secret ink writing and microdots.”

The picture, dated 1943, shows the child holding a sandwich in both hands as he takes a bite.

Mr Buckley said that Mr Haag played sports on the island and competed in billiards and snooker championships.

He added that the photographer was part of a musical duo called Vic and Pat that performed at social events.

Mr Haag lived in a house called “Upper Deck” on Harbour Road and later moved to “Glenross” in Paget.

Mr Augustinovic’s sixth book, Censorship and Bermuda’s Role in Winning World War II, was published in October 2019.

It highlighted the work of the censorship department, which searched for illegal communications and contraband in mail crossing the Atlantic.

Censors helped to uncover several German spy networks operating in the United States.

Mr Buckley said that there was renewed interest in the censorship station after the publication of Mr Horst’s book and the release of former finance minister Bob Richards’ Triangle of Treason, a World War Two spy thriller set in Bermuda which also featured the massive operation.

Mr Buckley also highlighted Censorettes, by Elizabeth Bales Frank, a Canadian author, which is now available on the island.

The book features a young woman who is part of the censorship team in Bermuda and detects a Nazi spy ring before a tragic twist leaves her with a difficult decision to make.

If you have information about the boy or the photograph, please e-mail news@royalgazette.com.

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Published January 20, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 19, 2021 at 6:02 pm)

WWII spy’s last secret: who’s the boy?

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