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Silver Travel Book Club - Book of the Month - May 2018

Sadly I’ve never been to Guernsey and I’m too young to remember WWII. I also already have a copy of the book and enjoyed it very much. Sad to see how the war affected so many people on both sides of the conflict and that love and friendship knows no bounds. It was very interesting to read about the German occupation, of which I was not aware. I recently saw the film and enjoyed it as well. Seeing the scenery it has ignited my interest in visiting the islands.

Jackie99 wrote:

Jackie99
21:47 08-May-18
#11

This book and film both remind me of Mum who died 3 years ago aged 85. She had wonderful stories to recount of her days as a child on Guernsey during the occupation. She started with most of the children in her class being evacuated to the mainland but her family decided she and her little brother Tom should remain, as did all her cousins. She told stories of having to eat their pet goat that they had kept hidden from the German soldiers, making tea from dried bramble leaves and boiling chewy limpets gathered from the shore in order to survive. She had many tales of encounters with German soldiers who were very friendly but also starving and prisoners of war in rags being marched along to work on building gun emplacements and defences. She told us how they looked forward to drops of Red Cross parcels and she still enjoyed condensed milk spread on bread as a treat. We even still have an exercise book full of salmon labels collected from tins in the parcels. We also have her German identity card. She recounted a story of her grandmother coming out to collect the children, mum,Tom and the cousins, who on a very hot day had gone down to the beach but she was afraid they were too near to mine defences and was very angry because they had gone where they had been instructed not to go. There was also a hot summer’s day when Granma and all the children were out in the hay field having a picnic when bombers came over and gran made them all lay down flat in the field whilst they passed. She could spot herself as a young girl on newsreel footage when the Queen arrived after the liberation of Guernsey.
I visited Guernsey as a child and would love the chance to go back again and visit some of the places she used to talk about and maybe even look up one or two distant relatives perhaps?

Very interesting reminisces, @Jackie99

Albox, Costa Almeria, Spain

Have not seen the film but like many have seen the advertisement on TV. I have seen many travel brochures on the Channel Isles and would love to go to Guernsey one day to see it first hand. An added attraction of course, is its history, people and if I remember correctly, its delicious seafood?

This book and film both remind me of Mum who died 3 years ago aged 85. She had wonderful stories to recount of her days as a child on Guernsey during the occupation. She started with most of the children in her class being evacuated to the mainland but her family decided she and her little brother Tom should remain, as did all her cousins. She told stories of having to eat their pet goat that they had kept hidden from the German soldiers, making tea from dried bramble leaves and boiling chewy limpets gathered from the shore in order to survive. She had many tales of encounters with German soldiers who were very friendly but also starving and prisoners of war in rags being marched along to work on building gun emplacements and defences. She told us how they looked forward to drops of Red Cross parcels and she still enjoyed condensed milk spread on bread as a treat. We even still have an exercise book full of salmon labels collected from tins in the parcels. We also have her German identity card. She recounted a story of her grandmother coming out to collect the children, mum,Tom and the cousins, who on a very hot day had gone down to the beach but she was afraid they were too near to mine defences and was very angry because they had gone where they had been instructed not to go. There was also a hot summer’s day when Granma and all the children were out in the hay field having a picnic when bombers came over and gran made them all lay down flat in the field whilst they passed. She could spot herself as a young girl on newsreel footage when the Queen arrived after the liberation of Guernsey.
I visited Guernsey as a child and would love the chance to go back again and visit some of the places she used to talk about and maybe even look up one or two distant relatives perhaps?

I thoroughly enjoyed the film. It was essentially a love story – what’s not to like: but most of all, the natural beauty of Guernsey shone through and was subtlety highlighted along with some of the incredible situations its residents must have endured during the war. I would love to read the book and most of all, to visit the Island……..it’s now high on my bucket list.

Last Edited by SANDRABYNOE at 06 May 16:41

I am looking forward to seeing this film soon and would like to read the book too.
We have just returned from our first visit to Jersey – as we travelled from Poole on the Condor ferry we had a brief encounter with Guernsey which is now on the ‘must visit soon’ list. While in Jersey we visited the War Tunnels and got a feel for how it was for Jersey folk during the occupation. With 1 German soldier for every 4 Jersey citizens it must have been an extremely harrowing time. Ridiculous rules applied to both citizens and soldiers and all islanders were extremely short of food. Soldiers were begging islanders for food and there were accounts of them leaving crying when refused. There are also many accounts of islanders being punished for their compassionate attitude to the German’s slave work force brought in to construct the tunnels. If you ever visit Jersey do visit the War Tunnels. These stories should not be forgotten

I keep seeing this advertised on TV – need book to find out what everyone’s raving about !!

N Somerset

Thanks everyone for your interest in this month’s Silver Travel Book Club choice, and for your poignant comments.

@Grey-Wolf – what a lovely image of the ‘inky tressed, doe eyed hotelier’s daughter with her cheeseboard…she had everything…Wensleydale, Cheddar, Caerphilly, Blue Stilton.’ But also the more serious evocation of the German occupation during WWII, and the horrific treatment of Jersey’s Jewish community. Lest we forget….

@PaulineTurner – you have made the Channel Islands sound unmissable, but just as in the book and film of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, what happened during the German occupation must always be in their memories.

@Cruzeroqueen1 – thanks for reminding us that some of the young German soldiers were largely left to their own devices, and struggled to survive too. It’s so easy to assume that they were all brutal, well-fed people grinding the local Guernsey folk down with their jack-boots. In the book and the film adaptation, a good German soldier plays an integral role in what develops on the island in the immediate aftermath of the war.

@GBG – thanks for that wonderful image of a polite, caring population from days gone by. As you say, it would be nice to think that hasn’t changed…..

My husband and I visited Guernsey with two of our daughters about 30 years ago. I remember coming across beautiful little bays, lovely coastal walks, and sailing to the magical islands of Herm, with its lovely shell beach, and Sark, where we hired bikes, rode around the island, but had to push them over the scarily narrow and high La Coupee! I remember the pretty capital of St Peter Port and also The Little Chapel, which is covered in seashells. In the sunshine and beauty of the place, it was difficult to imagine the horrors that the island’s people must have endured during the German Occupation, but the signs are there all over the island, serving as both a reminder of their suffering, and a testament to their courage.

Have heard about this book and film and would much like like to see both as well as Guernsey again, went there as a very very young man so many moons ago, on the weekend Louis Mountbatten was murdered I seem to remember, as it was in all the papers. Pleasant memories of ‘falling in love’ with the inky tressed, doe eyed hotelier’s daughter with her cheeseboard…she had everything…Wensleydale, Cheddar, Caerphilly, Blue Stilton. I’ve never forgotten it an probably never shall, whoever I’m with….especially if the eyes have that chocolatine lustre, I still shudder and quake at brown eyed girls to this day, eye contact transporting me immediately to the surging swell and foaming furze upon the solitary shores of Vazobo Bay and tales of mermaids from far off lands…

I did visit those bunkers and remember a waxwork of a German Stormtrooper positioned by a typewriter in the museum typing out some official document which included the word “Juden” someone in our party translated what it meant and it was basically an order to locate and arrest any Jews on Guernsey for deportation to the concentration camps. By happenstance I saw a historical programme on Yesterday channel the other day about the Channel Islands occupation showing local police on Guernsey being totally complicit with this order. There were only 3 Jews on Guernsey – all of them ladies, and all three of them met their fate in the gas chambers.

Interestingly, those bunkers are damp in summer owing to condensation but dry in the winter. A reminder from history as to how close the Swastika actually got to Great Britain and I believe almost a cruel taunt from Hitler by parking on our doorstep, Britain helpless to do anything ( even though we easily had the air, infantry and fire power) for any attempt to do so would have culminated in the twentyfold slaughter of Guernsey civilians as per the typical Nazi agenda.

All this aside, a beautiful island I would like to revisit again. Wonder if Wolfgang ze Waxwork is still down there typing out his bulletin from Hell…

Wakefield, West Yorks.
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