The Secret War of Charles Fraser-Smith (1981) claims that Maskelyne was involved in an important operation which made use of the double-agent ZigZag. According to Fraser-Smith, the Germans recruited an English criminal from a Channel Island jail and sent him as a saboteur to England in December 1942.
Unknown to the German controllers, the safecracker, codenamed ZigZag (ZZ), surrendered to the British authorities and was quickly incorporated into the Double Cross (XX) system. One of ZigZag's first tasks to impress his German backers was the sabotage of the valuable de Havilland aircraft plant at Hatfield:
“It was at this highly tricky moment that Maskelyne was called in and a scheme devised. In one of the three factories being used he built papier-mâché dummies to look like pieces of broken generators. These were strewn with smashed bricks, blocks of concrete and other rubble around the powerhouse. A big relief canvas was made to cover the whole plant, painted to look from the air as if the place had been blown to Kingdom Come. ZZ then radioed to Germany; “Mission accomplished.”The following day, a German plane reconnoitred and photographed the damaged plant, or rather Maskelyne’s masterpiece. The double-agent safe-breaker received a warm signal of praise from his German instructors. ZZ became a most useful man to XX.”
Unfortunately, Fraser-Smith’s Maskelyne anecdotes are of dubious quality. Does ‘Maskelyne’s masterpiece’ have any historical foundation?
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