Did town soldier help capture Nazi Himmler?

Looking Back Brook SUS-150119-123657001
Looking Back Brook SUS-150119-123657001

A historian is appealing to Looking Back readers to try and track down a former Eastbourne soldier believed to have taken part in the capture of Hitler’s second in command Heinrich Himmler.

Chris Mannion is currently writing a book about the capture of Nazi Himmler, the head of Hitler’s SS police force.

Mr Mannion believes a L/Bdr G H Brook of Western Road, Eastbourne, may of taken part in Himmler’s capture.

He said, “The arrest happened on Monday May 21 1945 near Bremen in Germany. Himmler was arrested along with two others.

“He was using false papers under the name of Heinrich Hitzinger.

“The patrol which arrested him were made up of five men from 196 Battery, 73rd Anti tank, Royal Artillery.

“One of the men was my grandfather L/Sgt Patrick Mannion of Newton le Willows.

“I know the name of two others out of five, so that leaves two unknown.

“I know this man L/Bdr G H Brook was a member of the 196 battery. He used the Western Road address when he signed up.

“I know he was not killed or wounded but little else. So was he one of the other men? Is he in the battery photo?

“I am trying to find any living relatives of Mr G Brook see if they have any information, photo’s stories, service records etc.

“The attached photo is of 196 Battery, 73rd, taken in April/May 1944. They landed on D-day and fought though France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.”

“Anyone with any information can email me at antitank73@hotmail.com.”

According to newspaper reports, the final moments of Nazi Heinrich Himmler were revealed 65 years after his suicide following the discovery of an old soldier’s war diaries.

Corporal Harry Oughton Jones wrote an account of his top-secret encounter with the head of Hitler’s SS police force while he was stationed at a prison camp at the end of the war.

According to his personal recollections, Hitler’s number two bit on a cyanide capsule and dropped down dead.

And while Himmler’s final words are widely believed to have been, “I am Heinrich Himmler”, according to the diaries he laughed in the face of a young officer before swallowing the pill.

Unbeknownst to the British, Himmler was among the German soldiers captured after the Nazi surrender – disguised in a sergeant’s uniform with a patch over one eye.

But his ruse was blown by his own shocked comrades who immediately informed their British captors of Himmler’s presence.

Corporal Jones - then 27 - and another officer were tasked with challenging Himmler before he took his life.

According to the diary he scoffed, “You my boy are just a young captain and to take me I want to see your colonel in charge”.

His account continued, “As we made to get him he just put his hand to his mouth and before we got to him he dropped dead on the bed”.

Two days later and under the cover of darkness, Corporal Jones helped bury Himmler in an unmarked grave on Luneburg Heath, in northern Germany.

He was made to sign the Official Secrets Act and told never to speak of the matter again.

The episode has been classified by the Ministry of Defence until 2045 – 100 years after the momentous event.

But actual circumstances of his demise have emerged following Corporal Jones’ death in 2010 aged 92.

His grandson Jason Renshaw had previously read his grandfather’s war diaries and chose to make them public following his death.