LONDON: A sensational entry in a newly discovered diary of a soldier has added weight to the claims that Adolf Hitler had fathered a lovechild with a 16-year-old French woman while serving as a corporal during World War I.
For decades, the tatty pocket diary of former Royal Engineer Leonard Wilkes had gathered dust in a box on top of a wardrobe among a war hero's possessions. His sons, Alan and Gordon, discovered it after death of their mom 10 years ago.
Mr 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 a sensational reference to the alleged liaison between Hitler and Charlotte Lobjoie in the summer of 1917, 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 French army against the Germans."
Mr Leonard worked as a machine presser. The grandfather of five and great-grandfather of 18 died in 1991, aged 76.
His son Alan 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, Jean-Marie Loret, while serving in France.
Mr Loret was born in March 1918 and his mother told him about his father shortly before her death in the late 1950s.
He 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.
The lawyer said Ms Lobjoie told her son the relationship with Hitler began in 1917 when the future Nazi leader was aged 28 and fighting the French in Picardy. The pair met when Hitler travelled to the town of Fournes-in-Weppe, near Lille, for leave.
According to Mr Gibault, she 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 Jean-Marie was conceived after a "tipsy" evening in June 1917.
He was born the following year.