George kept watch over Nazi deputy

George Fleming
George Fleming
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Retired rigger George Fleming helped guard Adolf Hitler’s number two, Rudolf Hess, in Spandau Prison in Berlin.

A visit to Bletchley Park, the wartime code-breaking centre, brought back memories of National Service days for George Fleming.

The 77-year-old from Linlithgow did his two years of National Service with the 1st Battalion Royal Scots beginning in 1959.

Following his initial training at Glencorse Barracks, he was stationed for a time in Berlin. While there, part of his duties entailed guarding notorious Nazi war criminal Hess.

Appointed Deputy Führer to Hitler in 1933, Hess served in the post until 1941, when he flew solo to Scotland, hoping to meet the Duke of Hamilton in an attempt to negotiate peace with the United Kingdom during the Second World War.

He crash-landed at a farm near Eaglesham, East Renfrewshire, where he was discovered still struggling with his parachute by a ploughman. He was taken prisoner and eventually convicted of crimes against peace, serving a life sentence.

Hess was held captive in Spandau Prison, along with two other prominent captives, Baldur von Schirach and Albert Speer, following their conviction at the war crimes trials at Nuremberg.

The British forces formed part of a multinational guard whose task was to ensure the war criminals remained in captivity.

George and other soldiers from his battalion took up their positions in the towers and at the main gate in Spandau Prison to keep watch over the high-profile prisoners.

The trio were allowed out into the fresh air for an hour each day.

George recalled: “Hess used to come out and sit beneath a tree.

“They were all dressed in white shirts and black trousers.

“One of the others walked round the garden and the third picked up a hoe to do some digging.”

Visits to Spandau of half an hour per month were allowed, but Hess forbade his family to visit until December 1969, when he was a patient at the British Military Hospital in West Berlin. Hess committed suicide on August 17, 1987 at the age of 93 in a summer house that had been set up in the prison garden as a reading room.

George lived all his life in Linlithgow.

As a youngster he lived in Low Port before moving to Preston Crescent and he now lives in Edinburgh Road with wife Helen.

After his National Service, George worked at BP in Grangemouth as a rigger until he retired.