Nothing to see here, Folkes
Nearly 80 years ago today, during World War II, convicted conman Sydney Gordon Ross duped New Zealand's intelligence service into believing that Nazi agents were planning to carry out sabotage in New Zealand.
The day after his release from prison in March 1942, Ross contacted Government Minister Robert Semple, claiming he had been approached by a German agent to join a sabotage cell active in Ngongotahā, near Rotorua.
Prime Minister Peter Fraser referred Ross to Major Kenneth Folkes, a British officer in charge of the newly established Security Intelligence Bureau (SIB). Folkes believed Ross' story. He approached the Government for more troops and greater powers to arrest and detain suspects.
He asked the police to investigate the "Nazi headquarters" in Ngongotahā, which turned out to be occupied by an elderly Native Department clerk, a dry-cleaner and three nurses. Ross' story quickly unravelled. The hoax was a huge embarrassment for New Zealand's fledgling intelligence service. Folkes returned to Britain and the police took over the SIB.
Ross, who was not charged in relation to the hoax, died of tuberculosis in August 1946. (Va NZHistory.govt.nz)
Cheers to that
A reader writes: "Rob, a farming mate, who lives in and works from his bachelor digs in a remote part of the King Country, got caught out while doing his annual pilgrimage to the South Island. He was in his ute at Winton, just north of Invercargill, when the lockdown was announced. Not one to shy from a challenge, he headed north, driving through the night, and managed to catch one of the heavily over-subscribed ferries to Wellington. He was then faced with a six-hour drive to his home, unprepared and un-provisioned for the lockdown and isolation. And that's when his good mate, Crusty, came to the rescue, offering to include Rob in his King Country bubble. Not only is Rob now assured of good provisions and good company, he's also assured of an endless supply of beer as Crusty just happens to own the pub."
Did you know ...?
1. Malaysia's Karex Bhd makes one in every five condoms globally. It has not produced a single condom from its three Malaysian factories for more than a week because of a lockdown imposed by the Government to halt the spread of the Covid-19. There's already a shortfall of 100 million condoms.
2. When a teenager in Jounieh, Lebanon, realised many people couldn't visit their mum for Mother's Day because of the coronavirus lockdown, he came up with a novel solution: for a small sum he would fly a rose to your mother's home with a drone.
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3. A married Secret Service agent had trouble extraditing a hacker from Romania, so he pretended he was a woman, flirted for seven months online, and nabbed the criminal when he flew to Boston with three boxes of grape-flavoured condoms.
4. The Lord of the Rings holds the record for the greatest number of false feet used in a single movie: 60,000.
5. The World Stone Skimming Championships have a category for contestants aged 60 years or more called "Old Tosser".