London: Hitler would have set up his headquarters in a sleepy Midlands market town in Britain if he had succeeded in invading the country.
Historians believe the dictator had selected Apley Hall, near Norton, in the heart of the Shropshire countryside, and it would have been the nerve-centre of his operations.
A bundle of 1940s papers recovered in a bunker in Belgium at the end of the war contained maps highlighting strategic sites for attack by the Germans, including railway stations, power plants and bridges.
An enormous amount of attention was focused on Bridgnorth.
The stately, Grade II listed Apley Hall, just seven miles from the tourist town of Bridgnorth, was once a retreat for rich guests wanting to escape the city.
But, historians believe Hitler’s interest in the area was due to it being geographically in the middle of England.
It was also away from the urbanised West Midlands and had a handy airbase nearby.
“As far-fetched as it may sound, the papers, which were marked ‘top secret’, earmarked a place in the middle of nowhere where Hitler hoped to set up camp during his planned invasion,” the Daily Mail quoted Richard Westwood-Brookes, who studies historical documents, as saying.
“It was widely believed that Hitler’s invasion was timed for 1940 but that he scrapped the idea after the RAF fended off the Luftwaffe over Kent.”
“The fact that some of these documents date from 1941, a year after the Battle of Britain, clearly shows that Hitler never abandoned the plan.”
“To go to so much trouble in researching Bridgnorth and the surrounding area indicated that the Nazis saw the town as of key importance for something,” he said.
The secret papers detailed lines of communication between Bridgnorth and other towns in the region, including Ludlow, where German spies had highlighted the railway station and two garages where vehicles could have been stored.
First Published: Monday, February 20, 2012, 12:22