A war mys­tery of Ru­dolph Hess told

Cu­ri­ous WWII in­ci­dent at Eaglesham field

East Kilbride News - - NEWS - Ken Law­ton

East Kil­bride Probus Club was treated to some lo­cal his­tory.

In fact, this would have re­ver­ber­ated around Europe, per­haps the world, when Al­fred Horn of Ger­many landed ‘up the road’ to try and bro­ker an early peace of the Sec­ond World War as far as Bri­tain was con­cerned.

Re­lay­ing this al­most stranger than fic­tion event was Ian Valen­tine, a re­tired head­mas­ter who now lives in Strathaven.

Ian be­gan by out­lin­ing the three main pro­tag­o­nists. First there was Ru­dolph Hess, who when he landed called him­self Al­fred Horn, and was born in Alexan­dra in Egypt in 1894, re­turned to Mu­nich in 1914 where he joined the army and was wounded twice on the Ital­ian front dur­ing the First World War.

He trained as a pi­lot then went to Mu­nich Univer­sity and was en­tranced with Pro­fes­sor Karl Haushofer whose ideas started him down the road of Nazi­asm NSDAP (Na­tional So­cial Ger­man Work­ers Party) and which was re­in­forced when he met Hitler in 1920. By 1933 he was Deputy Fuhrer.

The sec­ond prin­ci­pal in this was Ge­orge, Duke of Kent (trained in the navy but by 1940 was an air com­modore) and who was fourth of five broth­ers and heir ap­par­ent.

How­ever, in 1942 he was fa­tally in­jured in a mys­te­ri­ous plane crash.

The third char­ac­ter was Dou­glas, Duke of Hamil­ton, who was a mem­ber of the Nordic League in 1935 and met Al­brecht Haushofer (son of Prof Haushofer) at the 1936 Ber­lin Olympics.

By 1939 he was very right wing and, cu­ri­ously, Hess’s plane crash landed only 12 miles from his then home at Dun­gavel House.

It’s a dry May night in 1941. Hav­ing run out of fuel, the pi­lot Ru­dolph Hess parachuted to land in a field at Floors Farm, near Eaglesham, East Ren­frew­shire.

He was met by a fig­ure rush­ing ac­cross the field in the shape of farm­hand David McLean who was told by Hess that he was one Al­fred Horn and was ex­pected – by the Duke of Hamil­ton.

Back to the farm for a cup of tea – would you be­lieve – then all hell let loose.

The lo­cal home guard came for him, then the lo­cal po­lice be­came in­volved and, fi­nally, sol­diers from Mary­hill Bar­racks in Glas­gow ar­rived and took him away to Buchanan Cas­tle where he was ques­tioned.

He was sub­se­quently taken to the Tower of London.

Af­ter the fa­mous 1945/49 Nurem­burg Tri­als at the end of the war, he ended up in Ber­lin’s Span­dau Jail to the bit­ter end.

With­out the prospect of pa­role, he al­legedly went out­side to a small out­house where he climbed on a chair then on to a ta­ble and hung him­self.

How­ever, con­sider that with chronic arthri­tis and aged 93 he could hardly get out of bed, this seems very du­bi­ous.

There were some three or four the­o­ries as to why and who he had come to see. It could have been the Duke of Hamil­ton, King Ge­orge, Duke of Kent, Lloyd Ge­orge or even Churchill.

The lat­ter still wanted the war to carry on and try to get the Amer­i­cans in whereas the oth­ers were look­ing at bro­ker­ing a peace which would have short­ened the war im­me­di­ately. But one of the con­di­tions for a non-Ger­man in­va­sion was for the Nazis to com­mon­dere our fac­tory out­puts.

Churchill said no; they would fight on. It is all still shrouded in mys­tery, myth and war­time pro­poganda.

As an ex-school teacher, Mr Valen­tine ended by leav­ing his au­di­ence with three ques­tions. Who were the good guys? Was there a deal? Was it trea­son?

A Churchill quo­ta­tion, made in a ra­dio broad­cast in Oc­to­ber 1939 about Rus­sia, per­haps sums it up: “It is a rid­dle, wrapped in a mys­tery, inside an enigma.”

The vote of thanks was given by John Walker who said the talk had been “in­for­ma­tive and en­joy­able” with the whole pre­sen­ta­tion “well laid out”.

The next meet­ing is be­ing held today at 2pm for 2.30pm in the new hall at the Old Par­ish Church, Glebe Street, with a topic on “Barr & Stroud – the HMS Hood con­nec­tion” by Robert Davy.

Talk­ing points From the left is John Walker, Ian Valen­tine and Al­lan Steven­son

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