Alex Constantine - March 24, 2010
THE STORY of Frank Maclardy, the Formby chemist who fought for the Waffen SS in World War II, has been resurrected this week after the discovery of a secret file.
The dusty document, marked ‘collaborators’ and containing photographs of 14 men including Maclardy at the centre of a RAF war crimes investigation, was found earlier this month at the National Archives in Kew. Maclardy was interrogated by the unit because, incredibly, he had fought for the British Free Corps within Hitler’s SS during World War II.
Born in Waterloo a year after the outbreak of the Great War, Maclardy developed a vicious political appetitite to contrast with his mundane life as an apprentice chemist in Formby. Nicknamed ‘Teeney Weeney’ on account of his physical immaturity, Frank’s remarkable 20th century odyssey began with his appointment as Formby secretary of the British Union of Fascists’s Liverpool branch, and ended with the former chemist having to explain away his SS paybook to the British Army in the ruins of post-war Hamburg.
The lower middle class Formby man entered the war in 1940, as member of the Royal Army Medical Corp, quickly captured by the Germans in Belgium and dispatched to Stalag 21 D in Poland. However, rather than endure the fate suffered by the 60,000 other British POWs during the war, the Formby man offered his services to his captors.
The Formby fascist was soon ushered in to the British Free Corps, a regiment of renegade Englishmen who wore a an SS uniform with a Union Jack on their sleeves.
The traitorous fighting unit was the brain child of John Amery, a scion of the British Establishment, sexual reprobate and life-long Nazi. The old Harrovian's ‘baby’ won the personal approval of the Fuhrer and the unit was fighting fit by 1944.
However, as the Nazi empire began to unravel in 1945, the ragbag regiment began to fall apart. Amery was arrested by the British authorities and hung as a traitor, while Maclardy escaped with the lesser charge of aiding the enemy. He served seven years in prison and then emigrated to Germany, where he married Isobel and began a successful career with a chemicals company.
His wife gave birth to son Harold in 1956 and Bernard in 1957. Frank died in 1995.
The historian Adrian Weale, who co-produced the 2002 Channel Five documentary The Brits Who Fought For Hitler, speaking exclusively to the Formby Times, said:
“He was a very British traitor, and perhaps the flip side to Kim Philby and the Cambridge spy ring, although ironically Maclardy found the time to complete a distance learning degree chemistry degree at their University from prison. Maclardy's class, which was lower middle explains a lot about his life-long fascination with fascism and nazism. I am not entirely sure how comfortable Maclardy would be in the BNP today. I think their thuggery might have put him off.”
Frank’s brother Donald, aged 88, said: “The family were all ashamed of him.
“He was a traitor. I can’t hate him – he was my brother. I even visited him in prison. My parents were horrified.”