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Stars glittered over the restlessly undulating waters of the North Sea late on the evening of May 10th, 1941, as a lone twin-propeller Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighter bearing the Iron Cross emblem of the Nazi Luftwaffe came in sight of the low, dark line of land along the horizon that marked where Scotland lay. Far to the south, waves of similar aircraft and Junkers JU 88 "fast bombers" were roaring through the fire-streaked skies over London, pounding the luckless metropolis with a heavy attack that killed over 3,000 British civilians in about an hour and setting the Houses of Parliament on fire. Given a clear view of their targets by the bright moonlight shining over the "Sceptered Isle," the German pilots created immense havoc in which at least one observer found a certain hellish beauty: The Anglo-Irish poet Louis MacNeice had arranged to spend the night in the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral. He wrote that soon after the raiders appeared, "great tawny clouds of smoke, rolling in sumptuous Baroque exuberance, had hidden the river completely and there we were on the dome, a Classical island in a more than Romantic Inferno. It was far and away the most astonishing spectacle I have ever seen.” (Manchester, 2012, 350).

However, the solitary Messerschmitt 110 several hundred miles to the north was not on a combat mission. Instead, it bore extra 900-liter (237 gallon) fuel tanks greatly increasing its range – designed for jettison using a control toggle in the cockpit – and its principle payload was the man piloting the two-seat fighter alone. The man in the cockpit was Rudolf Hess, Deputy Fuhrer of Hitler's Third Reich, and he was on a mission to bring peace terms to the British. It is even possible he hoped to convince them to join with Hitler's Thousand-Year Reich in its great crusade against the Soviet Union, due to be launched in the very near future. Though he did not know it, he was actually on a forlorn journey into enemy territory, one that doomed him to a lifetime of solitary confinement in Spandau Prison before dying by his own hand as the last and loneliest of the Nazi overlords in 1987.

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