This Day In History: A British Soldier Spared the Life Of Adolf Hitler (1918)

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On September the 28th, 1918, there occurred a remarkable incident. This incident could have changed the history of Europe and the world. However, the details of what actually happened are still not fully established. On this date in history, a British soldier by the name of Henry Tandey could have killed Adolf Hitler!

The soldier was serving near the village of Marcoing in northern France when he encountered a wounded German soldier. The German was defenseless and the British infantryman could easily have killed him. However, Tandy decided not to shoot the enemy combatant and left him where he lay.  Tandy had probably  spared the life of a 29-year-old Austrian citizen who was serving in the German army, by the name of Adolf Hitler.

Battle of the Somme
British soldiers in 1916

Tandey was born in rural England and had served on the western front since the start of the war. He had served at the battle of the Somme and at the First Battle of Ypres. He was seriously injured in 1916 but he returned to the front, only to be wounded again. In 1918 he was serving with the 5th Duke of Wellington Regiment. During the fighting in 1918, he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest British award for bravery.  He was awarded this prestigious medal because of his role in the same battle in which he could have killed Hitler.

Years later, Tandey, told a reporter that he came upon a German soldier and he said that he aimed and was about to shot but did not. The German believed to be Hitler, nodded his thanks.   The British soldier told the reporter  that he could not shoot a wounded man, even though he was an enemy combatant.

There is no independent verification of the story. However, in 1938 Neville Chamberlin was in Berlin negotiating with Hitler and the German dictator pointed to a picture of a British soldier who he claimed could have shot him but did not. It was later established that the soldier in the picture was Tandey. However, it has been impossible to prove where was Hitler on the day that Tandy claimed that he could have killed the German.

No one can really be sure if the Tandey and Hitler encounter actually took place, or if both men were referring to different incidents. However, the German leader, one of the most-evil men in history kept a reproduction of a painting which was based on reputedly on Tandey. This was the picture he had shown to Neville Chamberlin.

Hitler like Tandey, had served throughout the war. He proved to be a brave and daring soldier and was for many years a messenger, one of the most dangerous jobs on the front. He too like Tandey received the highest military award of his country. Hitler was deeply influenced by his experiences in WW I and he claimed they led to him developing the ideology of National Socialism.

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