Photograph of Blackburn Rovers fans in stadium seats

Rovers Goalie kept a Nazi in Gaol

After winning a Championship medal and an England cap with the Rovers in 1914, Clitheroe born amateur goalkeeper Joseph Crabtree joined up and fought in the First World War, winning a Military Cross at Passchendaele in 1917. 

When war broke out in 1939, he returned to uniform becoming a Major in the Army. His life would change and catapult him into world history when, in 1942, he was put in charge of a German Prisoner of War called Rudolf Hess.

The German was Hitler’s Deputy and had landed in Scotland in 1942 hoping to negotiate with the British Government. Instead, he was unceremoniously thrown into the Tower of London. Hess was then moved to Aldershot and soon after to a ‘Camp’ in South Wales - it was actually a secure mental hospital. Probably during his time at Aldershot he was transferred to the keeping of Joseph Crabtree. Reports show that Major Crabtree took Hess (and his Greyhound dog) out for walks and even for drives in the Welsh countryside. However, Hess was put on an aeroplane to be tried at Nuremburg in 1945 whilst the good Major was demobbed, returning to his native Clitheroe.

Steve Williams

 Photograph of Ewood Park taken through football net

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