- Henry James Tandey was born at the Angel Hotel, Regent Street, Leamington, Warwickshire, the son of a former soldier whose wife had died early in their child’s life.
- He attended St. Peters’ primary school in Augusta Place, Leamington.He also spent part of his childhood in an orphanage before becoming a boiler attendant at a hotel.
- Tandey enlisted into the Green Howards Regiment on 12 August 1910. After basic training he was posted to their 2nd Battalion on 23 January 1911serving in South Africa prior to the outbreak of World War I.
- He took part in the Battle of Ypres in October 1914, and was wounded on 24 October 1916, at the Battle of the Somme.
- He returned to the 3rd Battalion, on 23 January 1918, before being posted to the 12th Battalion on 15 March 1918, where he remained until 26 July 1918.
- On September 28, 1918, in an incident that would go down in the lore of World War I history—although the details of the event are still unclear— Henry Tandey, a British soldier near the French village of Marcoing, reportedly encounters a wounded German soldier and declines to shoot him, sparing the life of 29-year-old Lance Corporal Adolf Hitler.
- As Tandey later told sources, during the final moments of that battle, as the German troops were in retreat, a wounded German soldier entered Tandey’s line of fire. “I took aim but couldn’t shoot a wounded man,” Tandey remembered, “so I let him go.” The German soldier nodded in thanks, and disappeared.
- Though sources do not exist to prove the exact whereabouts of Adolf Hitler on that day in 1918. As the story goes, when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain traveled to Germany in 1938 to engage Hitler in a last-ditch effort to avoid another war in Europe, he was taken by the führer to his new country retreat in Bavaria. There, Hitler showed Chamberlain his copy of the Matania painting, commenting, “That’s the man who nearly shot me.”
- Twice decorated as a soldier, Hitler was temporarily blinded by a mustard gas attack in Belgium in October 1918 and was in a military hospital in Pacewalk,
- On 13 March 1919 a supplement to the London Gazette announced that Tandey had been awarded the Military Medal (MM).
- Three days later (18 March 1919) he was promoted to acting lance corporal. He was finally discharged from the army on 5 January 1926.
- In 1940, his home was bombed by the Luftwaffe. A journalist approached him outside his bombed Coventry home, asking him about his alleged encounter with Hitler. “If only I had known what he would turn out to be,” Tandey is quoted as saying. “When I saw all the people and women and children he had killed and wounded I was sorry to God I let him go.“
- Tandey died in 1977, childless, at the age of 86.