When Dad first met him he asked how he, a mere subaltern in the British army, should relate to a man who was the second in command of the most powerful country in Europe. He asked Hess if heíd been in the first world war. He had. Had he been a private? Yes. So had Dad. That amused Hess and they used to refer to each other as Private Hess and Private Lander. I donít know whether the British hoped to glean odd snippets of information from Hess and whether the officers with him had to write reports but Dad told me that by the time he met Hess he had been squeezed dry.
Dad also told me that the other officers milked the Foreign Office on the grounds that things were needed for Hess. In the mess they had chicken (a rare luxury item in wartime) wine every night etc. In fact Hess was abstemious, rarely drank and usually preferred to take his meals in his room with Dad or the other officer. We used to have a scrap of paper in Hessís handwriting with a dart score headed Hess and Lander. I guess that probably got chucked away when my mother died.
Dadís commanding officer at the Hess locations was appointed in charge of alien internment camps on the Isle of Man and he took Dad with him as his Adjutant. I think that Dad was disappointed that he never got a camp of his own to command and promotion to Major but he was probably too useful where he was. I went over there twice. The first time was summer, possibly when Mabs was 6, and Mum and Mabs were on holiday. Because she was so dark the Italian men used to flock to the barbed wire to watch her go by because she looked like a little bambina. The second time I went on my own in winter on my embarkation leave.
The Isle of Man is an island in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland. That sea can get very rough. I donít remember which time it was but I travelled once on the worst of the little fleet of ferry boats that served the route. It was called Snaefell (pronounced Snay) which was named after the highest point on the island. On this trip it rolled so heavily that people in the open space below which was fairly wide were thrown from one side to the other. It also buried its nose and the ship shook violently when its propellors came out of the water. There were a number of camps around the island. The front at Douglas consisted of tall, terraced boarding houses. Several of them were linked together to form a camp. Dad lived in another former boarding house.
I used to take meals with Dad and another officer who had been in the peacetime army. He told us once that he had been in the Indian city of Quetta which became famous when it suffered one of the biggest earthquakes of the 20th century. At the time he was in bed with a lady in a hotel and they were amorously engaged. As he reached the peak of his performance the earthquake struck and the pair of them rose two feet into the air. He thought heíd excelled himself.
I also heard the story of a civilian who used to come to Douglas every year for his holidays. He always stayed in the same boarding house on the front. Every morning first thing he ran across the road, jumped the small wall to the sand and ran down to the water for a swim. But one year he had to stay at a different boarding house further along the front. He left his boarding house as usual the first morning, jumped the wall and fell about 20 feet to the beach where he broke his leg. The reason was that the promenade was level but the beach beneath it sloped steeply from one end of the bay to the other. next