Henry Tandey spared wounded Adolf Hitler's life in First World War - and changed the world forever

  • The future Victoria Cross winner's moment of compassion for a fellow human being unwittingly unleashed a monster on the world

    Hero: Henry Tandey at 85 with his Victoria Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military Medal
    Standing in his wrecked home, Henry Tandey watched his city burn and heard the screams of hundreds of men, women and children after an attack by 515 German bombers in wave after sickening wave.
    The brave air raid warden had spent the previous 10 hours fighting his way into blazing houses, rescuing victims and pulling out bodies as the Luftwaffe tried to destroy the Coventry factories powering Britainís war effort.
    But nothing Henry did that night could ease his sickening sense of guilt.
    He could have stopped this. Saved the 560-plus lives lost that night, all the horror wreaked by the Nazis and the 60million lives lost in the Second World War.
    He could have changed the course of history. If only...
    Two years earlier Henry Tandey, 49, had discovered that HE was the man who let Adolf Hitler live.
    In the dying moments of the First World War 22 years earlier, he had pointed his rifle at a wounded German soldier trying to flee a French battlefield. Their eyes met and Henry lowered his gun. The German nodded in thanks then disappeared.
    In that moment of compassion for a fellow human being, Henry, then 27, let 29-year-old Corporal Adolf Hitler walk free.
    Free to become the most reviled dictator and mass murderer of all time.
    ďI didnít like to shoot at a wounded man,Ē he said in 1940. ďBut if Iíd only known who he would turn out to be... Iíd give 10 years now to have five minutes of clairvoyance then.Ē

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