Legend has it that Big Ben – the Clock which was the very heartbeat of the British Commonwealth, despite the Nazi bombs rang forth throughout the Second World War, never missing a beat. This is the popular myth much quoted in textbooks and official histories of the Palace of Westminster. Yet on two separate occasions Big Ben stood silent for periods of exactly 12 hours during World War Two. These occasions are never reported or mentioned in the histories. They form a Mystery with perhaps a sinister implication for Britain’s conduct of the War. The first episode took place on the night of Tuesday June 3rd1941, when at exactly 10.13 pm – Big Ben stopped. It was restarted exactly 12 hours later at 10.13 am on the following day by the authorities and listeners to the BBC Home Service were perplexed not to hear the hourly live chime of Big Ben broadcast across the airwaves.
The Second mysterious silencing of the Bell took place on the night of Saturday December 10th 1944 and again the Clock lay silent for 12 hours. The Second event was reported in the Montreal Gazette the following day. In both cases exactly the same official explanation for the mysterious cessation of the clock was offered to the Newspapers – a mechanical defect, in the first occasion a workman had left a hammer in the mechanism whilst doing repairs and this had caused the clock mechanism to jam. Given the National and International importance of this Icon of Freedom – a careless event to have occurred not just once but twice. Both the timings of these coincidental events are significant. The First came just 24 days after the secret arrival of Nazi Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess in Britain and 19 days before the Nazi Surprise attack on Soviet Russia. At the time of the Second Silence in December 1944, Secret Negotiations had been carried out between the American OSS and BritishMI6 with Head of the SS Heinrich Himmler in Sweden and Switzerland for almost ayear. In Ian Fleming’s Screenplay of his 1965 James Bond Film Thunderball - Big Ben was used a secret communication device with SPECTRE by the British Government. Was Ian Fleming perhaps revealing his secret knowledge of a dark wartime secret – involving clandestine negotiations of the allies with figures in the Nazi Regime and military? .
There can be little doubt that the internationally reported silencing of Big Ben would serve as brilliant clandestine signal that someone in the highest authority had confirmed agreement to a previous clandestine communication which predicted such an event. In this way , the British government might secretly signal agreement to a deniable pact without fear of exposure. In 1941, such a signal might have been used to entice the Nazis to attack Russia, in 1944 it might have formed part of a scheme to accelerate the ending of the Third Reich. Or course it could have all been down to take clumsy workman all along.