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Island Archives Acquires the Occupation Diaries of Major Marie Ozanne

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Tuesday 26 September 2017

Two diaries belonging to Major Marie Ozanne, for the years 1942 to 1943, have recently been deposited at Island Archives.

Marie Ozanne was a serving officer in the Salvation Army Corps in Belgium.

Whilst visiting her parents at Torcamp, Vale, in Guernsey, she became stranded when German Occupying forces landed on the Island on 30th June 1940. This was the beginning of five years of Occupation by enemy forces.

She began and often ended each entry in her diaries with Bible scriptures, prayers or quotes and listed her many devotional duties of the day; prayers, Bible studies , women's meetings in the Bouet, at Kings Barn, French meetings at Bordage Mission, at Moye Chapel, children's meetings at St. Sampson's Chapel, Les Capelles 'Womens' Bright Hour' and Fellowship meetings at Salem. She also visited the sick in hospital.

To supplement her income she also looked after two children - a boy and a girl and did housework. She cited children as her favourite occupation for "He maketh the barren women to keep house and be a joyful mother of child" and responded to a request to board children from the Town Hospital. She also taught a little music "with God's help" and taught herself German, supplemented with lessons. It is no surprise when she often remarked that she was "bodily tired"

Published articles record her first of many letters to the Feldkommandant, at Grange Lodge, in the summer of 1941. She protested about the orders to close Salvation Army Halls and the banning of wearing the uniform. She continued to wear her uniform until it was forcibly taken away and later mentioned being sad that her mother had given her a silk dress to wear as she thought a simple cotton one would have been better. In another letter she protested to the German authorities about their ill treatment and persecution of the Jewish people. She delivered this letter a week after the Occupiers' Third Order against the Jews was registered in Guernsey's Royal Court. It was also recorded that she wrote letters of complaint about the treatment of Organisation Todt prisoners near her home.

In her diaries she mentioned about giving food to French and Dutch foreign workers. She also recorded that she was still protesting and going into Town (St. Peter Port), to read scriptures and sending letters about the plight of foreign workers and the Island's hungry people. "Guernsey is beautiful, why so much war, darkness and hatred?"

The German and Guernsey Police largely ignored her protests before, in exasperation, taking her to the German Hospital on 3rd September 1942, where she was questioned by German officials and then sent home. When she again preached in Town, two days later, she was finally taken to prison by the Germans. On 11th September she was then moved from the cells to continue her sentence in a room in a Guernsey policeman's house.

Yet under imprisonment still she wrote letters to the German Feldkommandant, including offering to go with the English families whose deportation to Germany had been ordered.

Published articles suggest that she may have been ill-treated in prison, but she made no mention of this in her diaries, unless there was hidden meaning in her scriptures; though her entry for 12th October recorded that it was "not too easy a day". She was released on 16th October and the following day stated that in her prison experience she had found joy in communicating with the Lord but was "anxious now about life".

Thereafter her health seemed to deteriorate rapidly; she could hardly walk and felt poorly. Finally on 2nd November she fainted in the night and was taken to the emergency hospital with an "abcess in stomach", later diagnosed as appendicitis. She was operated upon on 12th November and did not write again until 26th "due to preceding days pain, but days lit up with precious promises of God. Perfect through suffering".

There was now a sense that she knew her life was ebbing and that she was making peace with herself: "Lord thou has delivered me from the burden of reading scriptures in town"... "I thank thee for the rest of spirit thou dost give me in this hospital". On the 9th and 10th February she turned to the words of Victor Hugo to further uplift her: "The Christian in the presence of an earthquake" and his poem: "... like the bird, who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings." Her wound continued to discharge and cause pain as, presumably antibiotics that saved many wounded in the latter part of the Second World War were not yet available to help her.

Finally, on 22nd February, she wrote "Into Thy Hands I commend my spirit. Very poorly". Her last entry on 23rd February 1943 read "Let not your heart be troubled".

She died two days later.

At the back of her diaries she recorded her prayer lists for family, friends, Salvation Army officers and various individuals, including foreign workers. Towards the end this included hospital staff, fellow patients and "THE GERMANS those they make suffer and all the War Victims both sides".

These diaries are now stored in archival (acid free) packaging under controlled climatic conditions. They are available to be reviewed by the public, by appointment, between 9:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday. Nathan Coyde, Island Archives Manager, said "we are very grateful to William Ozanne and family for depositing these diaries and for a wonderful CD of photographs of Major Marie Ozanne and her family and peers.

Details of other Occupation records held at Island Archives can be found at www.gov.gg/islandarchives. This list mentions the Occupation ID's held for all Guernsey and Sark residents over the age of 14 years, of which there is one for Major Marie Ozanne.

 

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