A FORMER soldier who lives in Millport has told how he came face to face with Nazi number two Rudolf Hess while guarding him in prison in Germany.

Harry Gilliand is taking part in Armed Forces awareness events this week and raising funds for the charity Combat Stress, which has provided him with important support after leaving the forces.

Harry served in Northern Ireland and Germany at the Berlin Wall in the 1980s as a young man, before it came tumbling down, and he ended up patrolling the prison where Hitler's infamous deputy was held.

Harry, 58, said: "In the 1980s, I was ready to go and follow in my family's footsteps and go down the mines, but unfortunately they were closing, and there were strikes everywhere.

"I had a young family and daughter at the time, and needed money, so decided to follow in my mother's side of the family, who all served in the forces.

"Military was the next best thing, and three of my brothers also joined up.

"I went to the Royal Highland Fusiliers, and basically was based in Cold War Germany and guarding the Berlin Wall, and also taking care of the jail where Hess was based - Spandau Prison."

Harry recalls that there were strict searches in place even for the prison guards - to make sure they had no money, or cameras.

German newspapers at the time were offering £10,000 for one photo.

Hess was second in command in the horrific Nazi regime until 1941, and also infamously parachuted into Scotland, landing in a field near Eaglesham after a plane crash, in one of the most unusual stories from World War II.

Harry revealed how he twice came face to face with the evil war criminal, who hanged himself in 1987 at the age of 93.

He said: "We were required to guard the walls surrounding the prison, which was falling to pieces in some cases.

"I saw him a couple of times.

"He would beg for cigarettes off you but if you gave him a cigarette he would tell the guards.

"He came out once a day to a garden hut and would prune his rose bushes and use his typewriter for a few hours.

"He was quite frail by then, and would use a walking stick.

"The British would look after the prison for a month, then it was the French, Americans or Russians who would share the responsibility."

Harry says he saw some harrowing sights during his time in the forces, with one of his best friends dying in his arms.

Having experienced tough times serving for the Royal Highland Fusiliers regiment, he sought help from Combat Stress and is meeting the public this week to tell them of his experiences.

He said: "After leaving the Armed Forces, I found it difficult and had anger issues, but a former captain and ex-engineer put me on to Combat Stress.

"I was still getting nightmares as it was the first time I had seen violence and experienced trauma after I had joined.

"My former captain put me on to a welfare officer with Combat Stress, and I was assessed for head trauma and post traumatic stress disorder."

Through psychological help and counselling, Harry has got back on track, and is full of praise for the work of the charity.

He said: "I have around 800 cards and I will be giving them out in Morrison's Supermarket this week.

"Combat Stress do a great job and they take in a group of people for every visit and you realise you are not on your own, and there is important help out there."