THE LOCAL man who guarded the Deputy Fuhrer of Nazi Germany during World War II while he was a prisoner of war in Abergavenny, has died at the age of 94.

Tributes have been paid to Joe Clifford, who transferred to Abergavenny from Pirbright in Surrey in 1942 with Rudolph Hess when he was relocated to Maindiff Court.

In one of Mr Clifford's last interviews with the Chronicle he revealed that Hess was of the opinion that his guards we more like servants and treated them as such.

He revealed that Maindiff Court hospital had been divided into two parts – Hess had half and the rest was for the Dunkirk wounded.

He added that the people around Abergavenny during the war years knew he was there....but his whereabouts was never revealed in the press.

Joe recalled that Hess had a very comfortable life in Abergavenny: "I was with him for three and a half years. He used to draw and write, otherwise he was very quiet. He could speak English, but he very rarely spoke in English."

 Mr Clifford revealed that Hess was taken to various beauty spots around the Abergavenny area. "The Sugarloaf and Whitecastle were his favourite places and would visit the Walnut Tree Inn when it was quiet."

"Hess was treated as an officer. Whatever the officers had he had the same sort of meals. He dined with the officers."

Joe concluded that for Hess being housed at Maindiff Court was not like being in a real prison. "Ninety per cent of the time he was quiet," recalled Joe.

"But now and again he'd rave and shout and stamp his feet and on one occasion he stabbed himself in a suicide attempt.

"Hess dressed in a blue sports coat and grey flannel trousers and in the summer he'd have brown sandals on. He didn't wear a hat. In the winter he wore a long blue coat.

"Now and again he would dress up in his uniform — the uniform that he had flown over in from Germany. He had a personal driver and a Morris shooting brake...that was his personal car as dictated by the Geneva convention he had to have this sort of treatment."

 On October 8, 1945 Hess was flown to Germany to await the Nuremberg trials and Joe never saw the Abergavenny Kaiser again.

 At the end of the war Joe Clifford married a local girl, Muriel and took up work at Pen-y-Fal Hospital where he worked until he retired.

Father Thomas Regan the priest of Our Lady and St Michael's in Pen-y-pound said that a lot of Joe's achievements were historical, associated with his work at the local hospital and being the guard assigned to look after Rudolph Hess, but it is the man he is today that he remembers, adding: "He was a true gentleman, a man of his generation. He was an active catholic and very much part of the church community.

"He took pride in being part of the choir and only stopped singing past the age of 90 when he was no longer able to get up the steps in the church.

"Joe was a regular member of the church's senior citizen's lunch club and he is a character that will be missed greatly.

"I along with many other members of the church community went to see him in hospital and at the Avenue Road Nursing Home.

Julian Hayman spokesman for the local health board said: "It is with great sadness that Aneurin Bevan Health Board learned that Joe Clifford had passed away. He was very much part of the history of the NHS in this area, including his role during the Second World War at Maindiff Court and we wish to pass on our sincere condolences to his family and friends."

Joe leaves a son, three grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

The funeral will be held at Our Lady and St Michael's on Tuesday , June 21 at 2pm.