This is the riveting and extraordinary story of Kapitan Herbert Cleff, presented here for the first time by Brian Brinkworth. Considering the fascinating nature of the facts of the tale, it is difficult to understand how it has failed to rise to prominence sooner. Brinkworth remedies this situation with style, bringing us face to face with this enigmatic and intriguing individual, taken prisoner and destined to reveal German secrets to the Allies. But not everything was as it seemed...Cleff, an Officer on the staff of General Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma, attached to the 21st Panzer division operating in the Western desert, was captured near El Dab'a in Libya on the 6th November, 1942. He was interrogated both in the Western Desert and in the UK, following assessments that led his British captors to believe that he might prove useful to the Allied war effort.
During this interrogation period, Cleff kept releasing tantalising snippets of information about various advanced projects being undertaken by the scientific and engineering community back in Germany, such as the development of AFV tank engines and armour plating and, most interesting perhaps to the Allies, the progress the Germans were making with jet-powered aircraft propulsion, faster-than-sound flight, and unmanned offensive missiles. Every time his captors thought they had teased all the information out of him that they could, Cleff offered another tantalising snippet that ensured he was kept in the centre of the limelight and the focus of so much attention - and away from a Prisoner of War camp. Cleff's explosive revelations intrigued and perplexed in equal measure, and his reputation quickly grew amongst the Allied interrogation fraternity. Despite countless investigative efforts, the truth of Cleff's enigmatic revelations were never able to be fully proven, meaning that the compelling question remains: were his revelations merely flights of fancy or were they genuine exploded secrets? Until this point his story has remained unrecorded in any kind of published sense.
This new and exciting work is sure to appeal to Second World War enthusiasts eager for fresh stories and interpretations of recorded history.
Brian Brinkworth was a scientist at the Royal Aircraft Establishment before moving into academic life in 1960. Liking the combination of teaching and research he remained, becoming Professor, Head of Department and Dean of the Faculty at Cardiff University. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1992. He is the author of many papers and textbooks. In retirement, he has been an aviation historian, making several studies that have been published by the Royal Aeronautical Society. Flight of Fancy arose from following-up a mystery uncovered in one of those.