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  1. ITV Report

Project aims to discover if notorious Nazi broadcaster was plotting from North East Derbyshire

A project aiming to uncover whether a notorious Nazi broadcaster was plotting from North East Derbyshire during the interwar years has been awarded thousands of pounds of lottery funding.

William Joyce, who was also known as 'Lord Haw-Haw', was the voice behind the nightly 'Germany Calling' broadcasts from the heart of the Third Reich. He amassed UK audiences of up to nine million in World War Two, and he was hanged as a traitor in 1946.

Now Renishaw’s St Matthew’s Church Group have won £31,700 National Lottery support to help prove if William Joyce – who was hanged as a traitor in 1946 – was supposedly resident in the South Yorkshire and North East Derbyshire area in the interwar years.

William ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ Joyce giving pre-World War Two speech

American-born William Joyce was a prominent member of the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s and won high praise from Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels for his WW2 broadcasts which were designed to depress and demoralize UK listeners. He moved to Germany just hours before the outbreak of war in September 1939.

Rumours of his residency in North East Derbyshire have circulated for decades – the project is keen to shed new light on the issue.

William ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ Joyce (left) with Oswald Mosley (leader of British Union of Fascists - third from left) and British Union of Fascists

I’ve heard multiple people talk about him being resident in the area down the years. It’s going to be interesting to confirm if one of the most notorious figures of the war was here and, if he was, what he was actually doing here.

– Richard Godley, project spokesperson
William ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ Joyce (on bed) in custody after the war

St Matthews Church Group will be working in partnership with local schools and churches for the project that will also explore stories of local family connections to WW1- whether that be to soldiers or to those in reserved occupations. The solders that fell in WW2 will also be remembered with research into the names on local memorials.

The project has been made possible by National Lottery Players and is planning to provide:

  • a permanent interpretation board
  • displays and book about the individuals
  • training in military research
  • living history events with two local schools and a trail around areas that identify places and buildings of interest that were part of the war effort.
  • a record of local war memorials erected after WW1 with information passed onto the War Memorial Trust as a lasting legacy of the project
  • three new memorial seats in both villages.

We are thrilled to have received Heritage Lottery Fund support. We are confident the project will support young people and visitors to the area by making them more aware of the history and its connection to returning WW1 and 2 servicemen, reserved services and stories of Lord Haw-Haw that has been spoken about for generations in the area.

– Anne Joule, secretary of the group