Fascinating new research has revealed that two Burnley soldiers may have been involved in the capture of leading Nazi Heinrich Himmler.
Himmler, the man responsible for forming the dreaded SS wing of the Nazi party, and an influential figure behind the Holocaust, was captured by a detachment of the Royal Artillery while attempting to flee Germany in the latter days of the Second World War.
Burnley men – Bmdr A. Morris of 38 Ann Street, and Pte E. Lupton of 1 Starkie Street – were members of that detachment according to amateur researcher Chris Mannion, of Merseyside.
Mr Mannion, a volunteer at the Imperial War Museum in Salford, said he was “absolutely stunned” when he discovered his grandfather was one of the men involved in the capture of one of the most wanted men in history, and now wants to find the identity of others involved.
He plans to write a book on the arrest which happened on Monday, May 21st, 1945, near Bremen.
Chris said: “The patrol who arrested Himmler was 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 names of two others out of five, so that leaves two unknown.
“I have found the addresses of all the other men in the unit including these two men from Burnley.
“Could these be the two other men? I would love to hear from any of his descendants if they see this.
“It could be that the men never mentioned their role in Himmler’s capture – my grandfather certainly didn’t, I only discovered this while researching the regimental records.”
Himmler, whose full title was Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (SS), was partly responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews and other groups as part of the Nazis’ so-called Final Solution.
On Hitler’s behalf he set up concentration camps and later formed the mobile death squads of the Einsatzgruppen and built the extermination camps which would lead to the one of the worst genocides in human history.
Following his capture, and like several other leading Nazis, he escaped the hangman’s noose by committing suicide while in British custody, biting on a cyanide pill.
If any relatives of Bmdr A. Morris and Pte E. Lupton have any information on their war service they can contact Chris Mannion by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.