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Guernsey evacuees’ stories are told in new book by Derbyshire author

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The untold stories of adult and child evacuees who settled in Derbyshire during the Second World War are revealed in a fascinating new book.

Nearly 20,000 youngsters and mothers fled Guernsey just before the Germans occupied the Channel Islands on June 30, 1940.

Hundreds settled in Derbyshire towns like Chesterfield for five years.

Their experiences are told in a new book written by Derbyshire historian Gillian Mawson who has conducted years of painstaking research into Guernsey’s evacuees.

Gillian said: “The mothers arrived in England practically penniless and with few possessions – in many cases, their husbands had joined the British forces or remained in Guernsey to protect their homes and businesses from the Germans.

“One arrived in Chesterfield and recalled, ‘I spoke English but at first I couldn’t understand the local accent. There were factories and smoke, it was so different to Guernsey’.”

The mothers found part-time work while some cared for Guernsey youngsters who were evacuated to the Nightingale Centre in the Peak District village of Great Hucklow.

In summer 1945, when the evacuees returned to Guernsey, many discovered their homes had been destroyed – but they kept in close contact with their English wartime friends.

Gillian interviewed hundreds of evacuees as part of research for her popular new book, Guernsey Evacuees.

She said: “The Guernsey evacuation has almost been forgotten by many in the UK so I hope my book reignites interest about what happened to all those people during the Second World War.”

Gillian was given access to diaries and documents which painted a picture of what life in England was like for the evacuees.

The book features more than 100 wartime images – to see a selection of them, buy this week’s Derbyshire Times.

To find out more about Gillian’s research and book, log on to www.guernseyevacuees.wordpress.com/my-new-book.

 

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