Prescriptions for Rudolph Hess and Nazi spy executed at the Tower acquired by Royal Armouries

By Culture24 Staff | 22 October 2009
a photo of two documents with writing on them

(Above) Sedative prescriptions made out to the last prisoner executed at the Tower of London and Hitler's deputy, Rudolph Hess

Sedative prescriptions for Hitler's deputy, Rudolph Hess, and a Nazi spy who was the last man to be executed at the Tower of London are among an unusual crop of items acquired this week by the Royal Armouries.

The Royal Armouries, which operates one of its museums from the Tower of London’s White Tower, purchased the Second World War items for £750 at auction on Tuesday (October 20).

They include Army prescriptions written by pharmacist Harold A Rowe detailing medicine to be administered to both Hess and German spy Josef Jakobs.

Jakobs' prescription, for sodium amytal and dyspepsia tablets, was issued on Army stationery stamped August 14, 1941. He took the drugs before being executed by firing squad at the Tower of London the next day (August 15).

a photo of a large tower

Nazi spy Joseph Jakobs was despatched by firing squad into the moat of the Tower of London after being strapped to the killing chair in 1941

"Jakobs' prescription is perhaps the most interesting for us as he was the last prisoner to be executed here," said Bridget Clifford, the Armouries' Keeper of Collections (South) at the Tower. "We have the chair in which he was shot, and it's currently on display in Leeds but will return here in the spring."

The prescription for Hitler's deputy, Hess, who was held at the Tower from May 17 to 20 1941 after he parachuted into Scotland on an apparent peace mission, has the signatures of RW Taylor, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, the prescribing officer, and HA Rowe, the dispenser.

Hess was later transferred to Surrey before spending the rest of his years in Spandau Jail, Berlin, after being sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials.

"These are exciting and significant additions to the Royal Armouries' extensive collections," added Clifford.

The Armouries also purchased a newspaper cutting, revealing "wartime secrets" at the Tower.

Find out more about WWII espionage and the role of the Tower of London in Culture24's WWII espionage trail

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