Our speaker at our last meeting on Thursday 13 October 2016 was John Richards and his talk was about German rule in Guernsey during WW2. This was an open meeting and it was lovely to see so many guests and husbands attend the evening. John originally comes from Guernsey and his family, along with all other families on the island, were affected by the German occupation and the effects of the war to some degree. Four out of five children were evacuated from Guernsey, so you can imagine the atmosphere on the island changed due to this fact alone; there were no children outside playing and making a noise. There is a plaque that commemorates this and also states that almost half the population of Guernsey were transported to England. The Channel Islands had been demilitarised which the UK thought would stop the Germans invading, but they were not aware of this and Guernsey harbour was bombed on the 28 June 1940. John showed us several pictures during the evening, including one of German troops marching through St Peter Port, outside Lloyds Bank and Boots, both of which are still there today. John also read excerpts from various books including one about a woman who insisted she clean her house before she was evacuated so that the “Germans could see that decent people lived there”. It wasn’t just humans that were affected; prior to the evacuation, vets on the island were very busy with requests to put pets to sleep.
During the invasion, there was a lot of crime as people did what they had to do in order to survive. Guernsey prison was unable to cope with the numbers so a waiting list for imprisonment had to be implemented. John read another except from a letter from a little girl to Father Christmas. Her request was for chocolate as she hadn’t had any for some months, a leg of pork for Christmas dinner and other requests for food. She then went on to say if Father Christmas was just going to deliver toys, then not to bother as it would be too dangerous for him.
It was definitely a very interesting talk and made more personal due to the excerpts read by John from people who were there. John was born just after the war but his brother, parents and grandparents were all on the island and his brother has written a book about his experiences.
Our next few meetings are:
Thursday 10 November 2016: Judy Anderson will talk about the history of Great Ormond Street Hospital and the life-saving breakthroughs including young patients’ moving stories
Thursday 8 December 2016: this will be our Christmas meeting and will be a social event with some home entertainment, lots of chatter, mince pies and mulled wine.
Our speakers for the first half of next year are very varied and include a vegetable carver and a lady who has had a varied life including tracking down tigers in the jungles of India. More details to follow. Why not come and join us as a guest, a potential new member, or as someone who is interested in listening to a particular speaker? You will always be very welcome.
If anyone would like to come along or would like more details please contact Carolyn Brown firstname.lastname@example.org