22 MAY 1941, Page 5

The German wireless has been agreeably prodigal of valuable information

in regard to the Hess affair. Quite apart from the generous assortment of explanations of Herr Hess's intentions and state of mind we may learn a good deal that not all of us knew before about his friend the Duke of Hamilton. Here two alternatives are thoughtfully provided. According to the Transocean News Service of May 14th "Alfred Douglas-Hamilton, 13th Duke of Hamilton and 20th Duke of Brandon, whom Rudolf Hess hoped to visit, is 79 years of age. Although very wealthy, he never played a prominent part in British politics."

(For almost an octogenarian—or perhaps, in current jargon, a near-miss octogenarian—he boxes very creditably.) But by the next day authentic information was available, and the German broadcast to Denmark gave it: "Official British sources announce that the Lord Hamilton to whom Hess has referred in his documents is probably Sir Ian Hamilton, who is 88 years of age and chief of the British Legion."

Why " probably "? This hedging on the part of official British sources is contemptible. What the German wireless wants, very properly, is something categoric, e.g. "Lord Hamilton is the near-miss nonagenarian Sir Ian Hamilton, lineal descendant of Lord Nelson's inamorata by her marriage to Alexander Hamilton, of the Federalist, and third cousin to Mr. Hamil- ton Fish, the well-known American isolationist. On account of his buoyant disposition he is commonly known as Hamilton Hearty." Why not give them that? There is nothing there that the Germans may not know.