Walter Purdy

Walter Purdy was one of four British Citizens convicted of High Treason after World War Two. The other three were John Amery, William Joyce and Thomas Cooper.


Roy Walter Purdy was born in Barking, Essex, in May 1918. He qualified as a naval engineer, and was an active member of the Ilford branch of the British Union of Fascists. During action off Navik, Norway, Purdy’s ship HMS Van Dyck was sunk and he was taken prisoner.

Purdy was taken to several different POW camps in Germany, before entering the naval POW camp at Marlag in 1943. Whilst at this camp he purchased William Joyce’s book “Twilight over England” from the camp shop. This was notice by a German guard who offered to get the book autographed by Joyce. When Purdy said that he would like the book autographed, the guard made Purdy another offer. If Purdy agreed to make ten radio broadcasts from Berlin, he would be allowed to escape to a neutral country.

Purdy was unsure whether to accept the offer, but after meeting William Joyce in Berlin, he decided to accept the offer. He began broadcasting in August 1943, using the pseudonym ‘Pointer’. After he had given six anti-Semitic talks, Purdy was switched to newsreading broadcasts.

In March 1944, Purdy was arrested by the Germans in Berlin, after he went absent without leave. He was sent to the famous officer’s camp at Colditz. Once he arrived at this camp, Purdy was subjected to an extended interrogation by his British POW comrades. They had already heard what activities Purdy has been involved in.

The Senior British Officer informed the German commandant that Purdy’s safety could not be guaranteed. However, Purdy had already betrayed J.H.O. Brown, a British prisoner in Berlin who was gathering intelligence by the pretence of co-operating with the Germans. Luckily for Brown, the Germans did not believe Purdy’s account.

Purdy was eventually moved by the Germans, and used as a translator for the a SS propaganda regiment. After his unexplained absence in Berlin, Purdy was kept under close guard by the Germans.

After the war ended in 1945, Walter Purdy was tried at the Central Criminal Court in London with High Treason. He was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.

Like the case of Thomas Cooper, Purdy’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. It was felt that Purdy was a follower in treason, not a leader and recruiter.

Walter Purdy was released from jail in 1954. He had a child called Stephan by a woman called Margaret Weitemeir born near Ravensbruck on 5 April 1945. Purdy planned to return to her but this never happened. He married his childhood sweetheart called Muriel in 1957 but she soon died. He married another lady in about 1960 and had a son. Walter Purdy died in Southend during 1982.