The truth is rarely stranger than fiction. Digging into the club archives I came across an article in the Enfield News from May 1997 which recalls how in 1941 one of the more bizarre incidents of World War II took place not on the adriatic, not in france, not in the far east or in Russia but much closer to home in our own hockey home of Trent Park.
The details remain shrouded in secrecy to this day but they to hinge on Hitlers deputy and right hand man, Rudolph Hess, who aged 48 had seemingly on his own accord flew to Scotland seeking to negotiate a peace with the Allies.
He intended to contact The Duke of Hamilton to whom he believed had direct links to Churchill and the King. Hess brought with an array of peace plans. It was however we think a complete flight of fancy nevertheless his mission completely blind sided Hitler and his government. They feared Hess might be made a public example of the fractures at the heart of the Nazi regime.
The Nazi’s thus put out a public statement effectively putting distance between them and their former deputy accusing Hess of acting on his own and suffering from a mental disorder.
…we are getting to the Trent Park bit…hold on…
Churchill and the Brits were equally unimpressed with Hess and saw no use in his offer fearing to even negotiate with him would undermine the British fighting spirit. So after interrogation Hess was moved from Scotland to a safe house in Farnborough outside London. British intelligence feared that Hess would be the subject of a rescue mission or worse and thus had to keep Hess’ location top secret.
These fears were justified when Enigma code breakers at Bletchley Park intercepted a German message putting forth the idea that Hess was being held at
…..wait for it…
Trent Park. The famed future home of Southgate Hockey Club.
Hitler ordered elite paratroopers to snatch Hess back from the mansion house and so that is what happened. Except instead of finding Hess two armed German paratroopers were met with the might of the British army and gave up without a fight.
The exact details have never been revealed, it is likely both paratroopers would have been executed as spies. Hess we know became increasingly deluded and was returned to Germany after the war sentenced to life imprisonment at the Nuremberg trials.
So next time you find yourself looking at the mansion house- you can imagine these dramatic scenes taking place, almost as dramatic as some of the hockey that has taken place on site since 1998
Flagons tour follow up
We had lots of people corresponding after the publication of Keith Lewis’ article last week, Alan Limer wrote in with few more valued added extras:
May I just add a couple of “add on” tales to Keith’s excellent article on our little excursion to Spain.
On our walk back from the restaurant to the hotel Warwick was flicking his shoes off and then laying claim to them further down the road. He must have used his laces as ties for his hockey socks. Unfortunately he became increasingly vigorous and one flew off and landed on a little first floor balcony. This could have been the cue for a variation of the famous scene from Romeo and Juliet but alas and alack there was nobody in the flat. History does not recall the fate of the other one!
With regard to John Willmott’s winning goal I have a distinct recollection of hearing his dulcet tones in Gatwick’s long stay carpark. His modest refrain was “Who scored the winning goal on the new Olympic pitch”.