A war mystery of Rudolph Hess told
Curious WWII incident at Eaglesham field
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