Rudolf Hess: The enduring riddle of Hitler's deputy's flight to Scotland
NAZI commander Rudolf Hess parachuted into a Scottish field 70 years ago.
Hitler's deputy was arrested by pitchfork wielding ploughman David McLean on Floor's Farm near Eaglesham, south of Glasgow, in what was to become one of the strangest episodes of World War II.
Ever since, mystery has surrounded the top Nazi's dramatic arrival.
Conspiracy theories have raged about exactly what Hess was doing in Scotland at the height of the war and why the authorities are as stubbornly tight-lipped over the matter now as they were then.
Official records of the incident are currently under seal until 2017 after the official secrecy of the event was extended from 30 to 75 years.
Many people believe he was on a peace mission, possibly having been sickened by the atrocities of war.
But the lack of hard facts over why Hess flew to Scotland has given rise to some wild theories, including one claiming it wasn't even him in the plane.
Hess's wife Isle Hess certainly seemed to believe her husband was on a peace mission.
She quoted him in her book, Rudolf Hess: Prisoner Of Peace, as having said of his decision to fly to Scotland: "I do not think I could have arrived at my final choice unless I had continually kept before my eyes the vision of an endless line of children's coffins with weeping mothers behind them, both English and German, and another line of coffins of mothers with mourning children."
It also seems that, like many top Nazis, Hess believed Germany and Britain were natural allies who would be fighting together to defeat the Russians if it weren't for Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Perhaps it is no coincidence then that Hitler invaded Russia just six weeks after the Hess landing, making his arrival incredibly timely.
It appears the Nazi chief also believed the Duke of Hamilton, whose home in Dungavel it is thought Hess was aiming for, blamed Churchill for the war and was keen to broker peace.
Debate rages over whether the two powerful men met in Berlin in 1936 when they both attended an Olympic Games dinner, and if they had any contact afterwards.
Perhaps more importantly, though, Hess also appeared to think the Duke was a confidant of King George VI.
But there is also evidence, as cited in Rudolf Hess: The British Illusion of Peace, to suggest Hess was lured to Britain in an elaborate MI6 sting.
What knowledge the Fuhrer had of his deputy's trip, if any at all, is a matter for speculation.
Little is known for sure except that at 6pm on May 10, 1941, Hess took off from Augsburg Airfield in Bavaria in a Messerschmitt Bf110.
Hitler issued orders to have him stopped but squadron leaders were told to only scramble one or two fighters.
After a flight of almost 1000 miles, at around 11pm, Hess parachuted out over Eaglesham to be found with a broken ankle by ploughman David McLean.
His plane crash landed nearby, and the tail section and one engine can be seen in the Imperial War Museum in London, while the other engine is in the Museum Of Flight in East Fortune, East Lothian.
"As I ran out to the back of the farm, I heard a crash, and saw the plane burst into flames in a field about 200 yards away.
"I was amazed and a bit frightened when I saw a parachute dropping slowly earthwards through the gathering darkness.
"Peering upwards I could see a man swinging from the harness."
Margaret Baird, the wife of farmer Basil Baird who owned Floor's Farm, wrote about the extraordinary night in a letter to her sister.
In it she says: "I was awoken by the drone of the plane and heard two thuds like gunfire far away... they said they had a German airman, Davy said they had better take him down to the house for a cup of tea. The plane was burning brightly in the Bonnyton field.
"Meanwhile a party of home guards arrived in a motor and were thrilled to hear from Grandpa and Basil that a Jerry was in the cottage.
"We were standing at the side of our garden when he came round, limping pretty badly with about half a dozen home guards with fixed bayonets close to his back."
Margaret also goes on to say the first thing Hess spoke about was Dungavel.
Other sources claim he gave his name as Captain Alfred Horn and when taken to McLean's farmhouse accepted just a glass of water from McLean's mother.
It was only when the press arrived the next day, along with what Margaret describes as hundreds of cars and people with photos of Hess, that the villagers realised the true identity of the captured airman.
Meanwhile, the deputy fuhrer was taken to a hall in nearby Busby before being moved to Maryhill Barracks in Glasgow.
He was quickly moved to the Tower of London where he became the last political prisoner to be held there before being moved to Mytchett House near Aldershot.
And any hopes that Hess's arrival heralded peace were soon squashed when they heard Hess's terms.
Among his proposals was returning all the western European lands conquered by Germany to their own national governments but with German police.
Hess said that Germany would pay for the rebuilding of these countries.
To ensure peace, though, Britain would have to support the fuhrer's war against Russia.
Some believe the wily PM pretended to negotiate with Hess in order to ensure Hitler's invasion of Russia, knowing that this would end the Blitz and bring the Americans into the war.
Hess was later tried at Nuremberg for war crimes along with many other Nazi high commanders.
In 1946, he was found guilty of crimes against peace and conspiracy with other German leaders to commit those crimes.
He was given a life sentence which only added to the speculation as many believe Hess's crimes did not warrant such a punishment.
Hess spent the rest of his life in Spandau Prison in West Berlin where, as the last remaining inmate, he apparently committed suicide in 1987 at the age of 93, although his death too has since become a subject for debate.
It has even been suggested that the Hess in Spandau was a doppelganger, which possibly explains why he had such limited contact with his family.
Some researchers even believe he was kept locked up under such harsh restrictions because if allowed he would reveal to the world what really happened after he landed in Scotland, possibly even that he had warned the Allies of the coming Holocaust only to be ignored.
Chances are the facts will never be fully known. All that can truly said is that the night of May 10 1941 was a historic and important one for Hess, the Allies and Eaglesham.
*To mark the 70th anniversary of the part played by Eaglesham in one of the strangest events of World War II, there will be an RAF display at this year's Eaglesham Fair on May 21.