In the latest episode of our crime podcast, we reveal how Adolf Hitler’s right-hand man ended up in the cells of the Giffnock Police Office.

In the annals of Glasgow crime, the arrest and detention of Adolf Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess is unparalleled.

The cells of Giffnock Police Office on the outskirts of the city had in the past held the usual assortment of drunks, thieves and other petty criminals.

However more than 80 years ago, on May 10, 1941, it was host to one of the most powerful and feared Nazi in the world.

The man who, along with Hitler, had started World War Two and the man who was now trying to bring peace or so it appeared.

Six hours before his arrest, Hess had been sitting at his home contemplating what would prove to be one of the most bizarre plane journeys ever undertaken.

Hess took off shortly before 6pm that night from the airfield at Augsburg in Bavaria in his specially prepared aircraft.

Wearing a leather flying suit bearing the rank of captain, he brought along a supply of money and toiletries, a torch, a camera, maps and charts, dextrose tablets to help ward off fatigue and an assortment of homeopathic remedies.

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By around 10pm, he had reached the Northumberland coast near Newcastle upon Tyne where the presence of an enemy aircraft was detected.

Two Spitfires were sent to attempt an interception but failed to find the intruder.

A third Spitfire also failed to find Hess's plane.

The senior Nazi continued his flight into Scotland at high speed and low altitude, but was unable to find his final destination, Dungavel House, near Strathaven in south Lanarkshire, the home of the Duke of Hamilton.

Glasgow Times:

The Duke being a keen airman had his own landing strip and Hess had an incredible message for him from Hitler.

However, Hess was nearly out of fuel and knew that he would have to evacuate the plane before it crashed.

He climbed to 6,000 feet and parachuted out of the plane around 11pm.

Shortly before midnight, Hess landed at Floors Farm, by Waterfoot, south of Glasgow, where he was discovered struggling with his parachute by farm ploughman David McLean.

David had heard the ominous drone of twin Daimler-Benz engines - followed by the mighty thud of an explosion.

The plane was flying so low that the china ornaments on the mantelpiece in his bedroom had trembled.

As someone who had spent months listening to RAF planes flying overhead, David knew immediately that the unfamiliar sound he had heard could mean only one thing, the man parachuting to earth would be German.

David lived with his mother in a farm cottage.

The farm was owned by Basil and Margaret Baird, who had three sons.

By the time David got to the field where the pilot had landed Hess was already staggering to his feet.

The German had injured his right ankle on his exit from the Messerschmitt.

His leather flying suit, handmade furlined flying boots, gold watch and air of authority marked him out as much more than a humble Lufftwaffe pilot.

David picked up a pitchfork and ran towards Hess. At that point, the Baird family were all asleep.

He helped Hess to his feet and asked him if he was a German. Hess replied: “Yes, I am Hauptmann (Captain) Alfred Horn. I have an important message for the Duke of Hamilton.  Please take me to him.”

Glasgow Times:

He assisted Hess to his cottage where he was offered a cup of tea by Mrs McLean. He refused the tea but requested a glass of water.

David handed over Hess to his next-door neighbour Mr Clark, a member of the Home Guard.

In what could have been a scene out of the TV series Dad's Army, Clark turned up wearing a tin hat and carrying a First World War vintage Webley revolver.

By now the Baird family were up and about and Basil Baird phoned the police.

Within a few minutes the cottage was surrounded by soldiers, Home Guard and police.

The Messerschmitt was burning brightly in nearby farm fields.

The Baird family watched as Hess was taken from the McLean's cottage and marched past by six Home Guards holding fixed bayonets close to his back.

Within hours the area was in lockdown and an entire ban on movement in or out.

It would later transpire that the authorities thought the lone parachutist was part of a bigger invasion.

The next day, hundreds of cars and people flocked to see the burnt-out plane which was now a heap of scrap.

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Spectators were not allowed in the field but were able to view the wreckage clearly from the banking.  

Glasgow Times:

However, the biggest invasion was by reporters from across the country who had heard of Hess's capture and there was only one man that they wanted to speak with - the man who had taken Hess prisoner.

At the time David was quoted as saying: "I was in the house and everyone else was in bed late at night when I heard the plane roaring overhead.

"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.

“I immediately concluded that it was a German airman bailing out. I looked round hastily for some weapon but could find nothing except a hayfork."

David added: "Fearing I might lose the airman I hurried round to the back of the house and in the field there I saw the man lying on the ground with his parachute nearby.

“He rolled over and I helped him to loosen his harness and get on his feet. I asked him whether there were any more people in the plane besides himself, and he said no, and said he had no bombs or anything.

“He was a thorough gentleman; I could tell that by his bearing and by the way he spoke.

"He sat down in an easy-chair by the fireside, and my mother got up out of bed, dressed, and came through to the kitchen to see our unusual visitor."

Glasgow Times:

After the landing the normally quiet McLean household soon became a hive of activity as a procession of soldiers and Home Guardsmen arrived to question the mystery flyer.

As each new arrival entered the cramped cottage Hess would ask that he be taken to meet the Duke of Hamilton.

David added: "When the officials came on the scene, he greeted them with a smile and assured them that he was unarmed.

"He was anxious about only one thing, and that was his parachute.

"He said to me, 'I should like to keep that parachute, for I think I owe my life to it.'"

Hess didn't get his wish. The silk parachute had already been cut into pieces and taken away by locals as souvenirs.

The first person to see Hess was 12-year-old girl Dorothy Aitken who lived in nearby Eaglesham.

She jumped out of bed to tell her dad a German Messerschmitt had just flown past her window, he told her not to be daft and to go back to sleep.

But not only had the schoolgirl correctly identified the enemy plane, she had seen Hess in the cockpit.

In an interview in 2016, Dorothy, by now 87, said: "It was just before 11pm and I was in bed asleep.

"I was awoken by the sound of a roaring engine outside my window. I peeped out the curtains and was shocked to see a German fighter plane just feet away.

"It was flying quite low and I could see the pilot in his white helmet in the cockpit. I knew it was a Messerschmitt due to the white cross on its side. I scampered down the stairs to tell my dad.

"He didn't believe me, saying it must have been a British plane on a training flight as a plane from Germany wouldn't have been able to travel that distance. I went back to bed but knew I had not been mistaken.

"The Clydebank Blitz had taken place only a few months before and there was a poster on the wall of our classroom telling us how to identify enemy aircraft."

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Dorothy, who went on to become a teacher at Eaglesham Primary, added: "In the morning, there was great excitement in the village as news spread of the German pilot who had bailed out of his plane and been taken prisoner.

"Lots of people headed up to the farm to see the spot where he had landed and the crash site. There were so many officials up there that you could not get near.

"We had a RAF man billeted with us at the time and he was able to get closer. He brought my family back news of what had happened as well as a small part of plane debris, which he gave to my father as a souvenir."

Over the decades, other first-person accounts have surfaced and kept for posterity.

A report in the record book of Darnley fire station in Glasgow written by watch room attendant James Whitelaw, noted: “Motor pump… deployed to extinguish fire caused by crash landing. Messerschmidt  110. Twin engine monoplane fighter. Aircraft partly destroyed by fire and effect of crash landing.

“The pilot Deputy Fuhrer Rudolph Hess, who was the sole occupant of the machine, bailed out just before the aircraft crashed.

“He was taken to Floors farmhouse suffering from a broken ankle and was detained pending the arrival of a detachment of the Home Guard." 

In 1989, Robert Anderson, who was a sergeant in the Royal Signal Corps based at Eaglesham, wrote a letter to his local newspaper describing what he saw that night.

In it, he says: "The German was limping, having damaged an ankle…

"Our commanding officer reasonably but wrongly interpreted the arrival of the parachutist and the enormous blazing beacon of the burning plane as the herald of a full-scale paratroop invasion…

"I was detailed to hold off for the expected attack. Fortunately, they did not arrive.

"Next day, the papers carried the story of Rudolf Hess."

Basil Baird's wife Margaret wrote about the extraordinary night in a letter to her sister a few days later. 

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She said: "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 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."

It was only when the reporters arrived the next day, that the villagers realised the true identity of the captured airman.

It was in the cells at Giffnock police station where his first formal detention took place, with a local police sergeant nervously pointing a Colt 45 revolver at him.

He had been transported by car from the Home Guard HQ in Busby, which was housed in a masonic lodge.

Hess was next taken to the police station at Giffnock.

Arriving after midnight he was searched, and his possessions were confiscated.

He was found to be carrying an envelope addressed to the Duke of Hamilton, a watch, a camera and several photographs of himself and his young son.

He continued to ask for the Duke of Hamilton during questioning undertaken with the aid of an interpreter by Major Graham Donald, the area commandant of Royal Observer Corps.

A detachment of the 11th Cameronians then arrived and took their VIP prisoner to Maryhill Barracks in Glasgow, where Hess was granted his meeting with the Duke of Hamilton

Hess immediately admitted his true identity and outlined the reason for his flight which was to make peace with Britain.

He told Hamilton that he was on a "mission of humanity" and that Hitler "wished to stop the fighting."

Hamilton had been on duty as wing commander at RAF Turnhouse near Edinburgh when Hess had arrived, and his station had been one of those that had tracked the progress of the flight.

Hess was transferred to Buchanan Castle in Drymen, near Loch Lomond, for medical examination and treatment for his injuries.

A week later, he was transferred to the Tower of London then to a fortified mansion in Surrey, designated "Camp Z", where he stayed for the next 13 months.

Years later Hess told his wife in a letter of his trip to Scotland and experiences of being taken into custody.

He added: "A civil official appeared at the head of a troop of soldiers, a man who had quite evidently, judging by the smell, been celebrating Saturday with good Scottish spirits, probably having taken an extra shot when he heard that a German parachutist had come down.

"He staggered about in a cloud of alcoholic vapour, marching me off and prodding me all the while in the back, with a large revolver, his finger never leaving the trigger.

"As I listened to his incessant belching and stumbling, I felt there must have been the finger of God intervening between his shaking hand and the impending shot."

Churchill ordered that Hess was to be treated well, though he was not allowed to read newspapers or listen to the radio.

Psychiatrists who treated Hitler's deputy during this period, said he was not insane, but mentally unstable, with tendencies toward hypochondria and paranoia.

Until the end of the war on May 8, 1945, Hess was kept at a number of secret locations in England and Wales.

Following the German surrender, he was ordered to appear before the International Military Tribunal on war crime charges and transported to Nuremberg on October 10, 1945.

Twenty-three Nazis were charged and Hess was found guilty of Conspiracy and Crimes against Peace on September 30, 1946.

Twelve of the defendants were sentenced to death and three, including Hess, were given life imprisonment.

He was taken to Spandau Prison in West Berlin where he was kept under guard for the next 41 years.

In August1987 Hess was found dead in a summer house in the prison garden having killed himself at the age of 93.

To this day no one knows exactly why Hess flew to Scotland.

He believed that the Duke of Hamilton had some influence with the Royal family and Churchill and could help negotiate a truce with Germany.

His journey has also prompted numerous conspiracy theories including claims that the man who flew to Eaglesham was an imposter.

Most historians believe that Rudolf Hess flew solo to Scotland entirely on his own initiative.

Before his departure, Hess had given his adjutant, a letter addressed to Hitler that detailed his intentions to open peace negotiations with the UK.

After reading the letter, Hitler sent for a number of his inner circle, concerned that a coup against his leadership was underway at a time when he was about to begin an invasion of Russia.

He ordered that the German press should characterise Hess as a madman who made the decision to fly to Scotland entirely on his own, without Hitler's knowledge or authority.

Hitler also stripped Hess of all of his party and state offices and ordered him shot on sight if he ever returned to Germany.

Churchill later stated in his book The Grand Alliance that in his view, the mission had not been authorized.

Hess had been a devoted follower of the Fuhrer and a founding member of the Nazi Party, who had helped Hitler write Mein Kampf.

He supported legislation stripping German Jews of all meaningful human rights - and sent many to concentration camps or death.

However, like many powerful men before and after him it all ended in tears in a Glasgow police cell.