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WW1 VC Winner saves life of ...... Hitler?


Army.ca Fixture
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Here’s a fascinating piece of WW1 trivia I just came across:

One of the Haunting Photos of the 20th Century
Adolf Hitler (circled) Thrills to the Announcement of War in Munich,
August 1914


Hitler volunteered at age 25 by enlisting in a Bavarian Regiment. After its first engagement against the British and Belgians near Ypres, 2500 of the 3000 men in the Hitler's regiment were killed, wounded or missing. Hitler escaped without a scratch. Throughout most of the war, Hitler had great luck avoiding life threatening injury. More than once he moved away from a spot where moments later a shell exploded killing or wounding everyone

Hitler, by all accounts, was an unusual soldier with a sloppy manner and unmilitary bearing. But he was also eager for action and always ready to volunteer for dangerous assignments even after many narrow escapes from death.

Corporal Hitler was a dispatch runner, taking messages back and forth from the command staff in the rear to the fighting units near the battlefield. During lulls in the fighting he would take out his watercolors and paint the landscapes of war.

Hitler, unlike his fellow soldiers, never complained about bad food and the horrible conditions or talked about women, preferring to discuss art or history. He received a few letters but no packages from home and never asked for leave. His fellow soldiers regarded Hitler as too eager to please his superiors, but generally a likable loner notable for his luck in avoiding injury as well as his bravery.

On October 7, 1916, Hitler's luck ran out when he was wounded in the leg by a shell fragment during the Battle of the Somme. He was hospitalized in Germany

In August 1918, he received the Iron Cross first class, a rarity for foot soldiers. Interestingly, the lieutenant who recommended him for the medal was a Jew, a fact Hitler would later obscure. Despite his good record and a total of five medals, he remained a corporal. Due to his unmilitary appearance and odd personality, his superiors felt he lacked leadership qualities and thought he would not command enough respect as a sergeant.


Private Henry Tandey V.C.DCM.MM


Private Tandey was awarded the DCM for determined bravery at Vaulx Vraucourt on August 28 1918 The MM for heroism at Havrincourt on September 12th 1918
The Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery at Marcoing on 28th September 1918

Tandey was mentioned five times in dispatches and certainly earned his VC during the capture of the French village and crossing at Marcoing, his regiment held down by heavy machine gun fire Tandey crawled forward, located the machine gun nest and took it out.

Arriving at the crossing he braved heavy fire to place wooden planks over a gaping hole enabling troops to roll across and take the battle to the Germans, the day still not over he successfully led a bayonet charge against outnumbering enemy troops which helped bring hostilities to an end.

As the ferocious battle wound down and enemy troops surrendered or retreated a wounded German soldier limped out of the maelstrom and into Private Tandey's line of fire, the battle weary man never raised his rifle and just stared at Tandey resigned to the inevitable.  "I took aim but couldn't shoot a wounded man," said Tandey, "so I let him go

The young German soldier nodded in thanks and the two men took diverging paths, that day and in history.  Hitler retreated with the remnants of German troops and ended up in Germany, where he languished in the humiliation of defeat at wars end

In newspaper reports a picture of Pte Tandey carrying a wounded soldier after the Battle of Ypres was published, a dramatic image which symbolized a war which was supposed to have put an end to all wars and immortalized on canvas by Italian artist Fortunino Matania


Sgt Tandey left the army in 1926 at the rank of sergeant the 35 year old settled in Leamington where he married, settling back into civilian life he spent the next 38 years as Commissionaire, or plant security chief, at Triumph, then called the Standard Motor Company

In 1938 Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940), Conservative PM from 1937-40, made his gloomy trip to Munich to meet Chancellor Hitler in a last ditched effort to avoid war which resulted in the ill-fated 'Munich Agreement'.  During that fateful trip Hitler invited him to his newly completed retreat in Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, a birthday present from Martin Bormann and the Nazi Party.

While there the Prime Minister explored the hill top lair of the Fuehrer and found a reproduction of Matania's famous Marcoing painting depicting allied troops, puzzled by the choice of art Hitler explained, "that man came so near to killing me that I thought I should never see Germany again, providence saved me from such devilishly accurate fire as those English boys were aiming at us".

Hitler seized the moment to have his best wishes and gratitude conveyed to Tandey by the Prime Minister, who promised to phone him on his return to London.

Tandey's nephew, William Whateley, from Thomaby, calls to mind a mysterious phone when the storm clouds of war were brewing and Prime Minister Chamberlain was futilely appeasing Herr Hitler.

One evening the telephone rang and Henry went off to answer it, when he came back he commented matter-of-factly that it had been Mr Chamberlain. He had just returned from a meeting with Hitler and whilst at Berchtesgaden had noticed the painting by Matania of the 2nd Green Howards at the Menin Cross Roads in 1914.  Chamberlain had asked what it was doing there and in reply Hitler had pointed out Tandy in the foreground and commented, "that's the man who nearly shot me"

It wasn't until that time Tandey knew the man he had in his gun sight 20 years earlier was Adolf Hitler and it came as a great shock, given tensions at the time it wasn't something he felt proud about

Hitler believed Private Tandey's benevolent action was part of the grand scheme of things, the god's were watching over their emissary, which was also his sentiment upon surviving assassination attempts later on.  Hitler never forgot the moment he stared down the barrel of death, nor the face of the man who spared him, he stumbled across a newspaper featuring the famous image of Private Tandey which noted his being awarded the VC for bravery.

Hitler kept it and on becoming Chancellor of Germany ordered government officials to obtain a copy of his service record and reproduction of the Matania painting, which he hung and pointed out to loyal disciples with pride.

Henry Tandey VC DCM MM died without issue in Coventry in 1977 aged 86, in accordance with his wishes he was cremated and interred at the British Cemetery in Marcoing alongside fallen comrades and close to where he won his Victoria Cross 60 years earlier.



Wow....thanks for sharing.

Hindsight being 20/20, hmmmmm.......

Wow, what an interesting tale.  And people think I'm nuts for enjoying history, and the study thereof.

Also, this would make an interesting "what if" for alternate history fans.  "What if" he squeezed the trigger?
Technoviking said:
Wow, what an interesting tale.  And people think I'm nuts for enjoying history, and the study thereof.

Also, this would make an interesting "what if" for alternate history fans.  "What if" he squeezed the trigger?

People argue that the butterfly effect will happen and what was supposed to happen will happen. (Maybe Herr Hisler? hahahaha)

As for the article it's very confusing for sure but I think it sends the wrong message.

"I'll shoot this guy because he could be the next Hitler"

I admire Tandey for letting the injured man go (later to be found out that it was Hitler). It's a shameful thing to shoot someone who's injured(unless fighting back) or can't defend themselves at all.

It was not Tandey's fault this man later turned out to be Hitler.

Technoviking said:
Also, this would make an interesting "what if" for alternate history fans.  "What if" he squeezed the trigger?

I don't know.  The War in the Pacific would have happened.
As far as Europe goes, when the Treaty of Versailles was signed, Ferdinand Foch remarked, "This is not peace. It is an armistice for 20 years".
mariomike said:
I don't know.  But, as the Treaty of Versailles was being signed, Ferdinand Foch reportedly said, "This is not peace. It is an armistice for 20 years".
At any rate, the War in the Pacific would not have been changed.

Too true.

Did you hear that there were some final reparation payments STILL being paid to France?

My understanding is that Germany will be paying Reparations until 2010:

( So, if you want to collect on that 50 bucks the Kaiser still owes you, time is running out! Sorry, I read it one one of the comments ).
The reparations were economically counter-productive for the allies and provided the fodder needed to bring Hitler to power.  I had thought they had gone by the wayside.  The only way for Germany to get the cash to pay the allies was by exporting products to the allies meaning German jobs and allied unemployment.  Germany was in economic chaos so it didn't work that way as reparations were normally delinquent from the beginning because of their magnitude.