Hoots from the Archive - Ian Bailey's War: Rudolph Hess

Posted by Rachel Kneale on 09 May 2024

Modified by Rachel Kneale on 09 May 2024

Guest post by Jeremy Ward (History 1974 - 1997)

One of the more bizarre incidents of the Second World War involved OM and former teaching staff member Ian Bailey (1913- 2007). The Nazi Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess made the extraordinary decision to fly solo to Scotland in May 1941 to arrange a meeting with the Duke of Hamilton. He hoped that Hamilton would prevail on Churchill’s government to sign a peace treaty with Germany so the latter could get on with its invasion of Soviet Russia   unencumbered by a western front. The plan was carried out without Hitler’s knowledge and with no hope of success as Hamilton had no influence over Churchill.

Nonetheless Hess flew his Mescherschmitt Bf110 to 12 miles short of Glasgow on 7 May 1941 where he crash landed in a field injuring himself in the process. He was apprehended by  a local farmer wielding a pitchfork. The home guard were called and they  handed him over to  the regular army who transported him to Maryhill Barracks in the city where the duty officer Lt Ian Bailey was charged with guarding the German visitor in a cell before he could be fully interrogated. Ian Bailey spent an uncomfortable night with Hitler’s deputy with the latter moaning and groaning with pain from his injured ankle. Outside the cell standing on sentry duty was Corporal Willy Ross later to become Secretary of State for Scotland in Jim Callaghan’s ill-fated Labour government of the 1970s. Hess could hardly have wished for a more distinguished welcoming party!


Arnold Thackray

1 Like Posted 2 months ago

A marvelous footnote to “Basher” Bailey's storied MGS career. I sat under him in the early 1950s, and can still hear his voice!

David Lawton

1 Like Posted 2 months ago

It's good to have the correct version of this story, which I misremembered. Small correction: William Ross was Scottish Secretary in all of Harold Wilson's cabinets. Callaghan sacked him.

Roger Jones 1955-1961

1 Like Posted 2 months ago

I well remember being enthralled by Basher Bailey,s well modulated tones recounting the guarding of Rudolph Hess during the 3 years I had him for

English and Scottish history lessons.His memoirs ranged over many subjects,including the treatment by the officer class belittling the non elite NCO s who were applying to become officers in Scottish regiments.He was saddened so many competent men were excluded by class/crass prejudice.

His explanations of Browning,Shakespeare ,Burns and Chaucer were earthy, relevant and opened our minds to some impenetrable passages.

Our set who were taught from 1957 to 1960 were lucky to have such a memorable teacher



Tony McGuinness

1 Like Posted 2 months ago

What about a series on OMs war time exploits. I remember Head of Science Side Sol Clynes has some interesting tales as did Rev ?? (Not Ross, the other Rev in the late 70s)

Rachel Kneale

0 Likes Posted 2 months ago

Thanks Tony - yes, I think that would be a very interesting series

Simon Collins (1970-77)

1 Like Posted 2 months ago

Excerpt from a recently discovered transcript of a conversation which took place in that Maryhill Barracks cell:

Pte. Bailey: Here's the fish and chips you asked for, herr Hess.

Hess: Senk you. Ven Germany vins ziss voor I vill remember you. Vot is your name?

Corporal Ross: Don't tell ’im, Bailey!

(With apologies to Perry and Croft)

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