The truth behind Hitler's spurned lover

The truth behind one of Rugby's most controversial characters and notorious girlfriend of Hitler has been revealed after more than 50 years.

Many villagers have given their accounts of famous Nazi sympathiser Unity Mitford being sheltered in Hillmorton during World War Two.

But now one of the children who lived in the Hillmorton Vicarage with Unity has decided to break her silence and speak publicly for the first time about the woman who was hidden from the country and shot herself when Hitler turned her down.

Margaret Laidlaw (nee Sewell Corby) lived at the vicarage with her family, and as a nine-year-old, she remembes Unity moving into the house in Hillmorton.

"There was a silence put on the village and everyone just kept quiet," she told the Advertiser.

"I think it is time now to break that silence."

Unity - the most notorious of Lord Redesdale's six daughters - was known for her love for Adolf Hitler, who she spent time with in Germany.

But after the German leader rejected her, she shot herself through the mouth - but her suicide attempt failed.

"Hitler was so upset that he had her flown to Switzerland for the best treatment." she added.

Suffering from brain damage, Unity then came back to England - and her passage to Rugby was about to unfold.

Mrs. Laidlaw's mother ran a chiropody business from the vicarage and it was there she met Lady Redesdale as a client.

Lady Redesdale brought Unity along several times - so much so that in 1943, it was agreed that Unity could stay there under strict conditions from the government.

Due to her connections with the Nazi party, the likely alternative would have been incarceration.

"She was not under house arrest as we understand it today," added Mrs. Laidlaw.

"She was allowed into the village to get her cigarettes but she was under 24-hour supervision.

"I am not at all sure that people were happy with her being in the village.

"Anyone would not be happy to have someone connected to the enemy in their midst. She was a potential threat to the country and that's why my mother kept it secret."

The truth wasn't kept entirely under wraps, although little was said among the villagers.

Looking back on her time with Unity, Mrs. Laidlaw said: "We had a very happy time with her. We used to go for walks with her and we called her Aunty Unity.

"She was a great artist and gave us painting lessons. But she had a misguided belief that England and Germany would work together and live in harmony. She was infactuated by Hitler but I would suggest the stories about her having his lovechild are not true. I would also like to point out that Unity was not a relation but a family friend."

Mrs. Laidlaw, the daughter of the Rev. Frederick Sewell Corby, said she remembers the day that Hitler committed suicide.

"We came down in the morning and Unity was standing there. My sister said 'I am sorry that your boyfriend died'. Unity said 'you are sweet' but I said 'oh, that man'.

"Unity then went for me. I got underneath the table and got away. She kicked out at me."

Unity died in 1948 and Mrs. Laidlaw has since moved to Scotland.

But she said her brush with one of the town's most controversial characters is still clear and she was keen to set the record straight after all these years.