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Agent Hilda: The middle-aged Scottish housewife who outfoxed the Gestapo

She saved countless lives, he believes, by misleading the Gestapo with false information, and even had to fake her own death to escape being unmasked.

With all the major players in the story long dead, Miller, 69, had a tough task piecing together the details of his greataunt’s wartime role.

The National Archives has no known record of Hilda or her exploits, which are unverifiable. What is beyond doubt is that Hilda Campbell, a young Scottish woman who’d just finished studying modern languages at Aberdeen University, travelled to Germany in 1911 to improve her spoken German. A keen oboist, she went to a classical music concert in Hamburg where she was swept off her feet by a local doctor, Willy Büttner Richter. Marriage followed and the newlyw honeymooned with Hilda’s parents at their home in Forres, near Elgin.

Then the pair set up home in Hamburg and Hilda settled happily into married life.

During the First World War, as an enemy alien, she was placed under house arrest and her movements restricted. Throughout those difficult years she supported her husband and they went on to have a son, Otto.

When the Nazis rose to power in the 1930s Otto was compelled to join the Hitler Youth and, like millions, was brainwashed by the Nazi propaganda machine.

Hilda’s world collapsed on March 12, 1938, when her husband died suddenly from a heart attack.