Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Messerschmitt Over Chatton (NU055287)

On the 10th May 1941, with World War II occupying the hearts and minds of every Briton, Billy Green, who was Head Observer for the Royal Observer Corps in Chatton, was off duty and at a loose end. Billy lived at West Lyham, which lies on the road leading north from Chatton, and as night fell he thought he’d have a wander off along the said road (Sandy Lonnen) to visit his pals on duty at the ROC post.

Hearing a disturbing noise from the heavens, he looked upwards into the gloaming and spotted the distinctive outline of a Messerschmitt ME110 flying overhead at great speed and at extremely low altitude (50ft). He did the right thing and reported it to ROC HQ in Durham, who reported it on further. The response, however, was a firm rebuttal, with the experts insisting this was impossible due to the aircraft’s fuel range. Billy firmly insisted in no uncertain terms that it was, indeed, a Messerschmitt, heading fast inland from the North Sea – and they presumably agreed to disagree.

But Billy was right. The aeroplane was again picked up at Milfield and several other posts besides, until it was reported as having crashed in Lanarkshire. The pilot, though, had ejected and was soon captured. He gave a false name and insisted on speaking to the Duke of Hamilton, for whom he had an important message. His mission was to discuss peace terms with the British.

His name was Rudolf Hess.

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