A newly discovered wartime dairy of a soldier has put weight on claims that Adolf Hitler fathered an illegitimate son with a French woman.
For decades, the tatty pocket diary of former Royal Engineer Leonard Wilkes, had gathered dust in a box on top of a wardrobe among his possessions until his sons, Alan and Gordon, discovered it following the death of their mother ten years ago.
Leonard was one of the first soldiers to land on the Normandy beaches on D-Day in June 1944.
Over the following months he kept a diary as the Allies fought to liberate France and among the pages filled with neat writing in capital letters is an entry where he details meeting a woman who claimed she had given birth to a son by Hitler, the Daily Mail reported.
On September 30 in 1944 Leonard, who was from Small Heath, Birmingham, wrote: An interesting day today. Visited the house where Hitler stayed as a corporal in the last war, saw the woman who had a baby by him and she told us that the baby, a son, was now fighting in the French army against the Germans.
Leonard worked as a machine presser. The grandfather of five and great-grandfather of 18 died in 1991, aged 76.
His son, Alan Wilkes from Ward End, Birmingham, said: It was kept in a box. We were going to throw it out. I was shocked when I read it. My father never spoke to me about the war and, until he died. I never even knew the diary existed.
The brothers did not think the diary would be of interest to anyone outside the family until new claims emerged in French magazine Le Point last month that Hitler may have had a son while serving as a soldier in France.
Alan, 73, said the diary could offer the earliest written record of the story of Frenchman Jean-Marie Loret, who went to his grave believing Hitler was his father.
Alan came forward after reading about new information last month that adds weight to Lorets claim to have been conceived during a brief relationship between his mother Charlotte Lobjoie and the then young German corporal during the First World War.
Loret, who was born in March, 1918, grew up knowing nothing about his father, apart from the fact that he was German.
It was only in the late 1950s, shortly before her death, that his mother, Lobjoie, finally told him the story that was to haunt him for the rest of his life.
According to her story, the relationship began in 1917. Although Hitler, then 28, was fighting the French near Seboncourt, in the northern Picardy region, he made his way to Fournes-en-Weppe, a town west of Lille, for leave.
There he met Lobjoie who apparently later told her son: One day I was cutting hay with other women, when we saw a German soldier on the other side of the street. He had a sketch pad and seemed to be drawing. All the women found this interesting, and were curious to know what he was drawing. I was designated to approach him.
The pair started a brief relationship and she said Loret was conceived after a tipsy evening in June 1917. He was born the following year.
Three days later, his battalion marched on towards Brussels. He made no further reference to Lobjoie or her lovechild and never mentioned it to his family on his return home from war.
Lobjoie had given her son up for adoption in the 1930s to a family called Loret. Loret grew up to fight the Germans in 1939 and later joined the French Resistance.
Loret later discovered that German officers brought envelopes of cash to Lobjoie during the Second World War. After she died, he found paintings in her attic, which were signed by Hitler.
Loret died in 1985, aged 67, having never been able to prove his heritage. But his lawyer, Francois Gibault, gave Le Point documents to support his claims.