World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

Marjorie Eastwood 

Husband's Pen Pal Became One Of Hitler's Bodyguards

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Marjorie Eastwood, Rex Eastwood
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Marjorie Eastwood.


Before I got married, I did a course in book keeping at night school, but then I got a job in Kendall's, modelling on the different departments. I then met my husband to be, Rex, and we went abroad to Bavaria, where I got engaged. Rex had gone to Manchester Grammar School, and whilst there, exchange trips to Germany were organised, and Rex went to Hiedelberg University in 1932, where he met a young German man called Friedhelm. They became firm friends, and Rex visited his house in Germany, and the boy visited Rex’s house in England.

I married at 21, and Rex and Friedhelm continued to be pen friends, and then in 1933, we received a letter from him with the first reference to Hitler. The letter said,

“Dear Mr Eastwood,
I received your most welcome Christmas Greetings and thank you very much for it. I am very pleased to receive it and glad to think that you remembered me. I am very sorry that I have not written before, but you are correct that it is my heavy SA service that keeps me from corresponding more often. Now I wish you a happy new year with the German greetings, “Heil Hitler”.
Yours truly,

On the opposite page of the letter, there is a picture of the young Hitler with the caption - “Germany’s Great Leader”.

Later on, we heard that Friendhelm had become one of Hitler’s’ bodyguards and in early 1940, we received a parcel which contained some Nazi items. There was a nazi swastika, armband and pendant for the car, and a letter which said if we wore these and displayed these items on our car, we would be safe when Hitler invaded England.

I was terrified that someone would think we were German sympathisers, and we wanted to put them on the fire. For some reason though, Rex put them away and my son now has the pendant for posterity, though I think the arm band was destroyed.

My husband at the time was working for ICI (Ministry of Supply), in a new factory in Burnhall, near Fleetwood, and was working on a highly secret project for the invention of putting a super boost in petrol for British spitfires - tetra ethyl lead. This was quite ironic at the time, having received this package from Germany. (Atomic energy work also started here at this factory at this time).

I was working for the Women’s Voluntary Service by now, and was making meat pies for the bombed out people in Liverpool. We also had some evacuee children from Liverpool living with us. We lived on the flight path of the bombers going to Liverpool (Mere Heath, between Norwich and Middlewich), and one night we counted 250 various incendiary bombs dropped, yet only one cow was killed!

One day an incendiary bomb had been dropped at the bottom of our garden, and a bus stopped at our drive when they saw the bomb blazing out. They used sand to put it out, and eventually it was made safe. We salvaged a piece of this bomb, and even now, I use it as a weight to pull the garage door down.

One of the tricks the air force used round here was to display a mobile aerodrome (landing strip) at a place called Byly. Every night they would move it around, to a flat piece of land, put lights on it and attract the bombers away from the real targets.

Because of the nature of Rex’s work in the war, and the contribution he made to the war effort, he was given the rank of Major, and obviously, never met his pen friend again.