Prescription for last prisoner executed at the Tower of London forms part of successful Royal Armouries’ auction bid - Thursday, 22 October 2009

Britain’s oldest museum has bought four fascinating new exhibits – including sedative prescriptions made out to the last prisoner executed at the Tower of London and also to Hitler’s deputy Rudolph Hess.

The Royal Armouries (RA) – which operates one of its museums from the White Tower – purchased the Second World War items for £750 at auction on Tuesday (October 20).

Pharmacist Harold A Rowe dispensed the medicine for both Hess and German spy Josef Jakobs.

Jakobs’ prescription was for sodium amytal, and another substance* and was issued on Army stationery, stamped August 14, 1941. He took the drugs before being executed by firing squad at the Tower of London the next day (August 15). The Royal Armouries also purchased a newspaper cutting, revealing “wartime secrets” at the Tower.

Bridget Clifford, the RA’s Keeper of Collections (South) at the Tower, said, “These are exciting and significant additions to the Royal Armouries’ extensive collections. Jakobs’ prescription is perhaps the most interesting for us as he was the last prisoner to be executed here. We have the chair, in which he was shot, and it’s currently on display in Leeds but will return here in the Spring.“

The second prescription was issued to Hess, who was held at the Tower from May 17 to 20, 1941, after he parachuted into Scotland on an apparent peace mission. Unfortunately, the prescription is not dated but is signed by both RW Taylor, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, the prescribing officer, and H A Rowe the dispenser. Hess was later transferred to Surrey and was later held in Spandau Jail, after being sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes at Nuremberg.

The auction lot, which also included the service book of Mr Rowe, was handled by Plymouth auctioneers, Eldreds.

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