Memories of Earl's wartime captivity

THEY have known very different lives but have more in common than they first realised.

The Earl of Harewood and Chelsea pensioner Alf Hey met at Harewood House, near Leeds, and discovered they both knew a great deal of the harsh realities of war.

Both were former soldiers who were captured and held as PoWs during the Second World War.

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Mr Hey, 89, originally from Cleckheaton, who now lives at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, was at Harewood as a guest of the Otley Lions, who each year host a visit from Chelsea Pensioners.

Lord Harewood, 87, a former Grenadier Guard, was shot and captured in 1944 in Italy. He was held at Colditz for almost a year.

The present Queen's cousin was one of a group of eight notable prisoners held by the Germans as they thought they might be a bargaining tool. "Eventually, Hitler said to get rid of us. I do believe I saw the death warrant which had been signed by Hitler himself. Fortunately, a general disobeyed orders and released us to the Swiss."

Mr Hey, a gunner with the Royal Artillery, was imprisoned for four years after being captured by the SS in Crete in 1940.

Mr Hey said: "The conditions in there were just indescribable. When we finally got out it was like a miracle."