Read The Secret of Spandau Online

Authors: Peter Lovesey

The Secret of Spandau (2 page)

BOOK: The Secret of Spandau
12.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

David McLean put out the light and pulled aside the blackout at the window. The full moon glowed pinkly through a light mist, and he could see over the garden, beyond the stone wall, to the fields and the dark hills. All looked as usual until a movement caught his eye, the shimmer of moonlight on something large and white drifting from the sky.

He knocked on the wall of his mother's room and called out that he had seen a parachute and was going outside to investigate. He pulled on his trousers, tucked the nightshirt inside and reached for his boots.

The parachutist was on the ground grappling with his harness when David McLean got to him. The billowing silk was tugging at the man, jerking him across the grass until he managed to disengage it.

‘Who are you?' McLean called across to him. ‘British or German?'

‘I am a German officer. Hauptmann Horn, from Munich.'

From across the fields came a flash and a roar as the fuel ignited in the crashed aircraft. The German officer turned to watch.

‘Was there anyone with you in the plane?'

‘No, I am the only one.'

David McLean looked at the face picked out by the flames. This was not a young man, as the British pilots usually were. He had the stronger features of middle age, eyes set deep under thick dark brows, fine, wide mouth over a resolute jaw. He turned away from the blaze and attempted to stand, but his right leg would not support him. He toppled off balance and practically fell into McLean's arms.

‘My leg … very painful.'

‘You'd better come into the cottage. Are you armed? Do you have a gun?'

The parachutist shook his head, and lifted his free hand away from the side of his black leather flying-suit, inviting McLean to search him.

‘All right. Can you walk if I help you?'

They hobbled as far as the gate, and rested there a moment. The German glanced back to where his parachute lay, still rippling and flapping. ‘I would like to take that with me.'

To McLean, it was a reasonable request. The thing had saved the man's life. ‘I'll get it if you promise not to go away.'

The German gave a faint smile. With one good leg, he could not have got far from the gatepost.

McLean gathered the parachute and came back with it bundled under his arm. Then he heard a voice from the farm buildings.

‘What's going on out there? Who is that?' It was William Craig, who lived in the farmhouse.

‘It's me – Davey,' McLean called back. ‘A German has come down. Would you go and fetch a soldier from across the road, Mr Craig?'

‘A German?' A pause; then, in the same even tone, ‘Aye, I'll do that.'

By good fortune, several of the Royal Signals Regiment were billeted at Eaglesham House, almost opposite the farm. Their work was secret, and they looked more like university men than soldiers, but they were certainly better equipped than a ploughman to deal with a prisoner of war.

The German was considerably taller than McLean. They made their way unsteadily up the path to the door of the cottage, where Mrs Annie McLean stood watching in dressing gown and slippers.

‘Is it a Jerry?' she asked her son.


‘Och, what a life!'


‘Well, dinna stand out there. Bring him in and I'll make some tea.'

Inside the whitewashed living-room, David McLean dumped the parachute on the flagstone floor and helped the injured pilot into the single leather armchair. The man heaved a great appreciative sigh and eased his injured leg into a more comfortable position. He was wearing fur-lined suede leather flying-boots, easily the most elegant boots that McLean had ever seen.

‘What did you say your name is?'

‘Horn. Hauptmann Alfred Horn. I must see the Duke of Hamilton at Dungavel House. It is very important.'

‘You want to see the Duke of Hamilton?'

‘Would you take me to him?'

McLean grinned and prodded his own chest with his finger.
, take you up to Dungavel to see the Duke?'

‘If you please.'

‘Get away with you, man.'

But Hauptmann Horn was very persistent. He repeated the request. Apparently he believed there was nothing to stop the head ploughman of Floors Farm from rousing the premier Duke of Scotland from his sleep and introducing him to an enemy pilot.

Mrs McLean brought in the tea. Hauptmann Horn thanked her, and said he would prefer a glass of water. He unzipped the front of his flying-suit. Underneath, he was wearing the grey-blue worsted tunic of an officer in the Luftwaffe. He felt in an inside pocket and took out some photographs.

‘My son. And my wife.'

David McLean glanced at them and handed them to his mother as she returned. ‘His son and his wife.'

Hauptmann Horn took the water and drank it without taking a breath.

‘Bonny,' said Mrs McLean as she handed back the snaps.

Someone tapped lightly on the door. McLean opened it and admitted two boyish soldiers in battledress. One of them, who wore steel-rimmed glasses, cleared his throat and said, ‘We were told …' His words trailed away at the spectacle of the Luftwaffe pilot sprawled in the armchair with a glass mug in his hand.

McLean exchanged a glance with his mother. If this was the best the Army could send, he was not much impressed. He had scarcely admitted them and closed the door when there was more urgent knocking.

This time he opened the door to two of his neighbours who had been alerted to the emergency. Mr Williamson was the special constable. He wore a black steel helmet with the word
painted on it in white lettering. His companion was Mr Clark, who was in the khaki helmet and uniform of the Home Guard. Clark was more than equal to the occasion. There was a whiff of Scotch whisky on the air. He said with authority, ‘Hands up!'

Everyone looked at Clark and saw a large First World War revolver in his hand. They all half-raised their hands, even the soldiers, who then lowered them coyly.

‘Is this the prisoner?' demanded Clark, gesturing dangerously with the gun.


Turning to one of the soldiers, he said, ‘We have a clear duty here. We must put him under close arrest.'

The soldiers looked uncomfortable.

‘Is there anywhere suitable across the road?' asked Clark.

They shook their heads.

The prisoner spoke up: ‘Take me to Dungavel House.'

Clark raised the revolver higher. ‘Nobody asked you.'

David McLean explained, ‘He keeps asking for the Duke of Hamilton.'

Clark ignored that. ‘If the regular Army has nowhere suitable to confine the prisoner, we'll have him in the Home Guard hut at Busby.'

‘I am a German officer.'

‘On your feet!'

‘He's injured his leg.'

‘I don't propose to march him there. Mr Williamson is the owner of a motor car.'

Presently, the prisoner emerged from the McLeans' cottage supported by the soldiers, with Clark behind, pointing the revolver. Williamson opened the rear door of his small car. Before getting in, the prisoner turned towards McLean and his mother, thanked them, and dipped his head in a formal bow. Clark got into the back seat beside the prisoner and the car moved off into the night.


The Duke of Hamilton was not in residence at Dungavel on the night the German pilot parachuted into Scotland. He was some thirty miles away, at RAF Turnhouse, west of Edinburgh, where he served as commanding officer, with the rank of Wing Commander. Well known for his flying, the Duke had led the team that flew over the summit of Mount Everest in 1933.

He was in bed in his quarters when the telephone rang. He was overdue for a night's sleep, after long spells of duty leading flights of Hurricanes against German raiders over Scotland. But this was not a call to scramble. It was the sector controller asking him to come to the operations room.

There, he was told that the pilot of the Messerschmitt that had crashed at Eaglesham had asked to speak to him. It was mystifying. Earlier, the Duke had watched the tracking of the German plane. A fighter had been sent up from Turnhouse to intercept, but had lacked the speed to get on terms. A lively difference of opinion had developed between the RAF and the Royal Observer Corps as to the identity of the aircraft. Early sightings by ROC posts on the east coast had given it as a Messerschmitt 110, but no regular Me 110 was thought to have the fuel capacity to make the two-way trip, and the RAF had taken it to be a Dornier 215. Shortly after 2300 hours, the report of the crash had come in, followed by positive identification of a Messerschmitt 110: satisfaction for the ROC.

‘He asked for me personally?'

‘It seems he was trying to reach you, sir. He had a map strapped to his leg marked with a flight path terminating at Dungavel.'

‘Do we know his name?'

‘Horn, sir. Hauptmann Alfred Horn.'

‘It means nothing to me. I suppose I'd better see the chap. Where is he being held?'

‘They're taking him to Maryhill Barracks, sir. The Home Guard picked him up first and took him to a scout hut.'

‘Maryhill. He'll have to wait until morning. See if you can raise the Interrogation Officer. I'd better arrange for us to see the man together.'

Before he returned to bed, the Duke did some checking. In 1936, as Marquis of Clydesdale and a Member of Parliament, he had visited Germany with a party of fellow MPs. The visit was officially to see the Berlin Olympic Games, but he was actually more interested, if possible, in getting a close look at the Luftwaffe. And it had been arranged. On 13 August, he had been introduced to Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, who had obligingly laid on a tour of three German airfields. At Staaken, Döberitz and Lechfeld, the Duke had met a number of Luftwaffe officers, whose names he had kept for reference. This was the list he had now taken out to check. There was no Hauptmann Horn among the names.

Next morning at 10.00 a.m., the Duke, accompanied by Flight Lieutenant Benson, the RAF Interrogation Officer for South Scotland, arrived at Maryhill Barracks in Glasgow. First they were shown the personal effects taken from the prisoner: flying-suit, helmet and boots; Lufwaffe officer's tunic, trousers and forage cap; gold wristwatch; Leica camera; various medicines, vitamin preparations, glucose and sedatives; map-case and map; photographs of himself with a small boy and a woman; and two visiting cards, in the names of Professor Dr Karl Haushofer and Dr Albrecht Haushofer.

The Haushofers. So
were the connection.

The Duke's youngest brother, David, had introduced him to Albrecht Haushofer, the son, in 1936, during that visit to the Olympics. Albrecht, a bulky Bavarian, had impressed him as sapient, shrewd and possessed of independent views. Over dinner, he had shown a refreshing disrespect for certain of the Nazi leaders, mimicking von Ribbentrop and describing Goebbels as ‘a poisonous little man who will give you dinner one night and sign your death warrant the next morning'. Surprisingly after that, Albrecht had confided that, in addition to his duties as lecturer at the University of Berlin, he worked for the German Foreign Office. He favoured a policy of co-operation between Germany and Britain and he was a staunch worker for the preservation of peace. Moreover, he was a confidant of the Deputy Führer, Rudolph Hess.

In January 1937, the Duke, as Clydesdale, had taken the opportunity of a skiing trip to further the contact with Albrecht. This time he had travelled to Munich to meet Karl Haushofer, Albrecht's father, the professor of geopolitics whose theory of
– room to live – had been seized upon by Hitler as the moral and academic justification of his territorial invasions.

During 1937, Albrecht Haushofer had made two visits to Britain. In March, he had delivered a lecture to the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and afterwards had stayed in Clydesdale's London home. They had met again in June, when Albrecht was en route for America. In April 1938, Albrecht had visited Scotland and stayed at Dungavel. He was still talking of the need for an Anglo-German settlement, though with diminishing confidence. In July 1939, he had sent a long letter warning of the imminence of a war against Poland and in consequence a European War, and asking for a British initiative to forestall it. Clydesdale had shown it personally to Winston Churchill and the Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, and had then passed it to Lord Dunglass to put before the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain.

More than a year had passed – a year of war – before Albrecht had next penned a letter to his friend. It was a strange letter and the Duke had received it in curious circumstances. In the middle of March 1941, he had visited the Air Ministry in London, at the request of a Group Captain, who was ‘anxious to have a chat about a certain matter'. The matter had turned out to be a photostat of a letter signed by ‘A', who, evidently from the contents, was Albrecht. It was dated 23 September. A Mrs V. Roberts had sent it on from Lisbon. It had been intercepted by the Ministry of Information Censor on 2 November 1940, photocopied, and sent to MI5. It was almost six months old when it had finally reached the Duke in this photocopied form.

By Albrecht's standards, it was a short letter. He had begun, as usual, with the salutation, ‘My dear Douglo', and had gone on to offer condolences on the recent deaths of the Duke's father and brother-in-law. Then he had referred to the previous letter of July 1939, and the significance that the Duke and his ‘friends in high places' might find in an invitation for him to meet with ‘A' in neutral Lisbon. The reply was to be enclosed in two sealed envelopes and sent through another address in Lisbon.

British Intelligence had decided – after all those months – to ask the Duke to reopen contact with Albrecht Haushofer. He had been called for a second interview in April and asked to go to Portugal, to learn whatever Albrecht could tell him. This, the Duke had realised, amounted to working as a British agent. He had been told that it was the kind of mission for which one volunteered, rather than acting under orders.

BOOK: The Secret of Spandau
12.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Beyond the Hanging Wall by Sara Douglass
He Touches Me by Cynthia Sax
In Too Deep by Shannon, R.W.
The Silver Touch by Rosalind Laker
cravingpenelope by Crymsyn Hart
The Curve of The Earth by Morden, Simon
Writing on the Wall by Mary McCarthy