An Internee’s Story — by Juliette White

“…if had not been for MR HITLER”

A story of internment and its consequences with extracts from the diary of Jean Tipping — LIFE IN WURZACH CAMP, 1942–1945 by Jean Plain (nee Tipping) deceased, interpreted by Juliette White (nee Plain) her daughter.

My mother, Jean Plain, writes in the frontispiece of her war diary in 1985: “It is now 40 years on and the pencilled writing is hard to decipher. Time to re-read, re-live and type out all the tales of the never-ending days of our life in the Schloss. Many of the stories of the people in the camp were hearsay but some did turn out to be true……”

In 1941 the British along with the Russians took control of Iraq and Iran with their massive oil supplies. This resulted in many Germans that had been in Iran being interned by the British. In the autumn of 1941 an infuriated Hitler demanded the deportation of ten British citizens resident in the Channel Islands for every German interned; lists of all applicable islanders were drawn up. This order was passed from department to department and buried. Just as well — as they were to be deported under the original demand to the Pripet Marshes in what is now Belarus.

Unfortunately the matter was brought back to Hitler’s attention in September 1942. This time it was implemented immediately but now the destination was to be Southern Germany. Some 2200 were deported.

As Gillian Carr writes in her book (Occupied Behind Barbed Wire) “Many people had less than 12 hours to tie up their affairs, sell or give away the content of their houses, put down or otherwise dispose of their family pets, deposit valuables and money with banks and arrive at the Harbour with their families. It was a profoundly shockingly and traumatic experience for those involved and caused a great deal of resentment and hatred towards the occupying forces for those who were left behind.”

What follows is a story of deportation, internment and liberation during World War II and what happened next. It is a very personal family story.

Jean is my mother and this is largely her story in her own words. I take a meander through her 1942–43 diary some ninety pages long, and additional notes that she and others made and added after the end of the war.

We will major on deportation and finally her liberation, but in the middle we will take a wander through some of the most pressing topics of, in her words, “the never ending days in the Schloss”.

Introducing Our ‘Cast’

The photographs of my family that you see below are taken from their Occupation Registration Cards. The Germans occupied Jersey in the Channel Islands in 1940 and made it compulsory for everybody to be registered under the Registration and Identification of Persons (Jersey) Order, 1940. This registration process required the collation of personal details concerning everyone within the island. Every islander was then issued with his or her identity card whilst the German authorities kept an official set, which is now UNESCO listed and held at the Jersey Archive.

OUR ‘CAST’

From left to right

Jean Ethel Mary Tipping, born Forest Gate Essex, age at deportation 19, occupation clerk

Fredrick Charles Tipping, father, born in Hendon Middlesex, age at deportation 56, occupation Assistant Jersey Library

Florence Sarah Tipping, mother, born in Canning London, age at deportation 49 — occupation housekeeper

Twin brother and sister, Geoffrey Aston and Barbara Alice Tipping, born Barking Essex, age at deportation 17, occupations respectively clerk States Abattoirs and housekeeper.

Jersey 1939

“We arrived in Jersey in 1938 the year Chamberlain came back from Munich triumphantly waving that useless piece of paper as he got out of the plane.

Bar, Geoff and I liked the Island and went about everywhere on our bicycles and had a wonderful time. Mind you, there weren’t so many cars about then.

Mum wasn’t too happy at first and missed her family and friends left behind on the mainland. When the war began in 1939 we all listened to the radio announcement and wondered what was going to happen.

Later that Sunday afternoon we rode out to Bouley Bay and passed many groups of people standing about by their gateways and talking about the situation. We were in our early teens and a bit too young to understand the seriousness of it all.”

Occupation of the Channel Islands 1940

German soldiers marching past Boots the Chemist in St Helier, Jersey.

“In 1940 we were suddenly brought face to face with the reality of the situation when the Germans arrived to occupy the Island. Life was suddenly restricted, radios confiscated and curfews imposed but we were young and made our own fun. We still went on the beaches in the sunshine although we girls were sometimes pestered by German soldiers and there were still dances held at some of the halls around the island. However if they were scheduled to go on for a long time as on a special day like St. Patrick’s then the German soldiers would come and lock the doors at curfew and we would all have to stay there until they came to let us out in the morning to trail off to work. We did not get paid much for what we did as firms had to struggle to keep going with nothing much to sell/or do. Some people were forced to work for the occupying forces to get food to eat as only locally born people were put on road building schemes to keep them busy and fed. Rations were low and clothes were hard to come by.”

“15th September 1942 and then we saw this notice in the Evening Post: -”

This is the original news cutting which we found with her diary. You can clearly see where she has marked with an X the category that her family fell into.

“I was at work in the office at Noel and Porter’s on the afternoon of the 15th September 1942 when Mr. Alexander, my boss came in and said he had some very bad news about a new order in the paper. It stated that all persons of English birth whether male or female who were caught in the island by the evacuation and had not been able to get away in time and all the families of English born men residing in the island at the time were to be deported to Germany and such people should await further orders from the Commandant.

Well I just laughed at him, I thought he was only joking, but he continued to look grave and went to get Mr. Noel’s paper so that I could read for myself. That sobered me down as there was no doubt of my family’s validity when I had read the order.

That-night Mr. Alexander let me go home earlier than usual and when I saw the faces round the tea table I knew that all the family had also heard the news.”

15th September 1942 (the night of the order)

“I went to Miss Lillicraps (The Jersey School of Dancing) for my dancing lesson that evening and was surprised that none of the other members of the class had turned up as I knew they were all of Jersey birth and had nothing to worry about. Apparently the news had upset everyone in the Island!

Miss Lillicrap was very surprised to see me arrive and told me she had heard that some people had already had their papers to be ready to go at 4 o’clock the following afternoon Wednesday. This shook me up a bit and as I went down Bath Street on the way home I felt that I would never see that street again.

During this time we were slowly packing. We still went off to work in the daytime but Mummy was under strict orders to phone us as soon as the dreaded papers arrived. Messrs. Lomax. Secker and Ashdowne who worked at my firm had gone on the Wednesday and Mr. Noel was quite upset at them having to leave.

Thursday afternoon came and we saw them delivering papers in the town.

At last, in the evening about 7 o’clock we saw Mr. Crill (the Constable of St Clement) delivering papers to Mr. Graut at №7. Coastlands. As the car moved up the road a little and stopped opposite our gate we all felt awful, The actual moment, when it arrived, was a bad one for all of us as we watched Mr. Crill and a German soldier get out of the car and walk up the path to our door.

In the evacuation we had decided to stay on because we did not like to leave our home and all the little things we had each gathered around us during the years. Now we were being forced to leave it, but not for such a hospitable place as England but to be taken to Germany and goodness only knew what lay before us there.”

Letter dated 18th September 1942

Dear Auntie Alice,

I am writing this to you as Mum and Dad are busy packing. The enclosed order will explain why far better than I can.

Mr H P Alexander of Noel and Porters Ltd, King Street, St Helier will be posting this to you as soon as communications with England are resumed, in case we should not be able to get in touch with you at that time. He also has some goods, which we have managed to save in store. You will know what to do with them.

Whatever you do, don’t worry. We will get back to you somehow.

Everyone sends their love to you over there.

All my love,

Jean

PS Will I spit in Hitler’s eye for you?

Friday 18th September

“On the Friday morning I did not go to work but rushed about saying Goodbye to friends and helping Mummy collect warm clothes and strong shoes from Summerland as most of ours had worn out by this time. Mrs. Larbalestier gave me two pairs of silk stockings and a pair of black suede shoes. We had a hasty dinner and rushed down to meet the special bus at St. Nicholas’s Church at 3 o’clock. John Queree helped us to carry our luggage down and waited to see us off. Rumour had it that we would have to walk across Europe just as the Russians did who had arrived in Jersey few months beforehand and that must be why we were only allowed to take a few of our things and a mug, a plate and eating things and 10 Reichsmarks each…. we eventually got on the bus and were given a good send off with loud cheers from the people collected around.

All through the journey through town and down to the Weighbridge Hall Daddy waved a Union Jack out of the window and we were cheered. Specially by a large crowd who had gathered at the corner of Broad Street and Conway Street. The bus drove into the Weighbridge Hall and our German guard got off and St. John’s Ambulance men and women came and helped us down with our luggage. We found a small spot unoccupied and settled down on our cases. Then the heads of families had to queue up and get tickets with numbers on them for the boat.

The uproar was terrific there must have been some 600 people, men, women and children awaiting their turn for transportation.

Then we saw some of the buses returning from the pier with people still on them. Waves of rumour went around and it seemed that the boat was not going after all. We had arrived at St. Nicholas’ Church at 3 o’clock, the Weighbridge at 5 but it wasn’t until 9 o’clock that the German Officer called everyone left there around him and told us that the Red Cross had said that the boat was not fit for the transportation of passengers and that we could go home but to return again the same time on the next Friday.

After being keyed up for so many hours this news left us all rather flat and remarks about the Germans were not very kind.’ It seemed for that moment that we really wanted to go but in the week that followed we were thankful that we had more time to put things in order. Buses were to take us back to our Parish Halls where we had had to leave the keys of our houses and taxis or cars would then take us to our homes. That night we slept in our underclothes under our blankets as we did not want to begin unpacking at that time of night.”

Deportation

The deportees arrive in buses

“That next week was a pandemonium of rushing about getting more warm clothing, of hastily cooked meals and packing and repacking. On the Saturday afternoon we were in town and read the notice in the paper which told us to meet at the Weighbridge Hall at 2. o ‘clock the following Tuesday. Everyone felt more settled now that we knew definitely which day was THE day.

We left the house at №9. Coastlands, Greve d’Azette at 1.15pm. Tuesday September 29th. 1942. There were more crowds at Broad Street and Conway Street corner who gave us a cheer and we arrived at the Weighbridge Hall about 2.15 pm. Dad registered and we soon got on the bus to go down to the boat. Once on board we found places on a raft in the stern and sat down. Each person was handed a green package containing one packet of biscuits, 1 slab of chocolate, 2 boxes of matches, 1 tin of sardines and 1 tin of pork paste. Every man had a packet of 20 cigarettes. Hot milk and jam sandwiches were handed round by Gaudin’s waitresses. Several St. John’s Ambulance men and women were on the boat while it was in the harbour. Some were going to make the crossing with us.

The crowd which gathered about 7 o’clock singing patriotic songs on Mount Bingham were turned away by German soldiers and so we had no one to cheer us on our way as we finally left the harbour. All nurses and 5 men who were not going with us left the boat at 8.31 p.m. and soon afterwards we steamed out of the harbour and dropped anchor in the roads off Elizabeth Castle. The second boat followed on and anchored just in front of us. Dusk was falling and people were leaning over the side and watching the lights of St. Helier. We did not leave the roads until 11. 30 and it was a weary wait for everyone aboard. As we left the harbour Geoff had been signalling to John Queree with a torch but one had to be careful because we carried an armed guard of eight men who kept watch on deck.

Before leaving the harbour every person on board was made to put on a lifejacket and this made many people extremely nervous and there was much talk of submarines and air attack. Eventually Greve d’Azette, Noirmont and Corbiere disappeared from view behind us and we were on the open sea.

No one was sure which French harbour we were making for but rumours which later proved true, said it would be St. Malo. A big moon, nearly full, made it possible to see for many miles over the sea and we were kept busy watching the convoy which had silently joined us and looked to us like two armed trawlers and a troopship as well as the other boat which had left Jersey with us.

We were definitely heading for St. Malo. We began to make out the coastlines around us and we dropped anchor just outside the harbour about 3.a.m. This was the time when most people settled for a much needed sleep as we all knew we would not be disembarked until morning.”

The Journey to Wurzach

September 30th 1942 St. Malo ~ Dol ~Rennes~Vitre~ Laval ~ Le Mans~Paris

October 1st 1942 Mahon~Lumes~ Trieze~Sedan~Montmedy~Ecouviez~ Douette~St. Remy~Sigrembre~Musson~Autellas~St. Ellewerke~City of Luxemburg~Wecher~Wasserbilbe~Trier~Saarbrucken~Saarlautern~ Ehsdorf~Vickbingen~Luisenthal~St. Ingbert~Landau

October 2nd 1942 Carlsruhe~Stuttgart~Sussen~Ulm~Langenschwemmen ~Biberach on Riess

and then finally

October 30th 1942 Ummendorf~Sweisshausen~Essendorf~Wattenweiler~ Schussenried~Aulendorf~Waldsee~Rossberg~Menneweiler~Haidgau ~Wurzach

30th. September 1942. 9. am. we started making our way into the harbour at St. Malo. Got through the lock and disembarked at 10.30am and got at once onto a train which was waiting for us. Around 12 noon we were issued with some lunch. A loaf of German bread. German sausage and one apple. We did not eat this all at once as we thought that we had better save some in case we did not get much else given us on the journey. At 1 o’clock the train started to move and there was much shunting to and fro. We were given V signs from people along the tracks. At 2 o’clock we were still in St. Malo at the town station and were given a large bowl of soup. Eventually at 3 o’clock we were really off and as we passed through the countryside we saw all the lovely apples in the trees and the pretty white stone houses. We went on our way

1st October 1942. At 10.30 we were in Belgium and passed through Douette, then on into Luxemburg and through the City of Luxemburg where we spotted war slogans on some of the engines on the tracks there. “Wheels Must Roll For Victory”. There are no more greetings and friendly waves from the people we pass along the way, at 1.45 we are approaching Germany. Around 2.15 at Trier the other half of the train leaves us and goes on towards the North as we go on our way down South.

2nd October 1942. Around 8.30 we had reached Ulm and then got held up for a couple of hours while lots of soldiers and anti-aircraft guns were shunted around on the tracks and finally Biberach at 12.20 p.m. What a long and very tiring journey it was but this was to be our destination.

The family spent nearly a month in Biberach before being sent to Wurzach

30th October 1942. More Red Cross Parcels arrived this morning but the excitement of this was overshadowed by the news that the camp was being broken up and the 1st. column (men over 18) would be transferred to a camp for Yankee prisoners of war at the foot of the Bavarian Alps. Families with children under sixteen were to be moved to a castle in a place called Wurzach or some such name. Those single women over sixteen were to be moved with their parents and couples without children were to remain in the camp here. Pandemonium has since ensued!

31st October 1942. Left the camp finally, about 11 o’clock after being counted at least 10 times and walked down the hill and are now sitting in the train once more. We have all received a piece of liver sausage and 1 loaf of bread between three people. It’s now 12.15 and I have just finished to best meal that I have had for a whole month. What a relief to be able to eat as much as you can without thinking of tomorrows rations.” She continues, “We are travelling much faster now and the engine whistles continuously. At last we slow down and draw into a town. It is Wurzach. It is 3.25 p.m. and we have reached our destination. After dis-entraining and marching through the town we arrive at our barbed wire again. It surrounds a huge, great chateau style building decorated in white picked out with blue. A space about the size of a dog’s kennel is in front of the building. We lined up in this and eyed the rather tumble down looking building with some misgiving.”

OFLAG 55 — Wurzach Internment Camp
Bad Wurzach

Bad Wurzach is a spa town in southern Germany; it gained the ‘Bad’ prefix (meaning spa) in 1950. The Schloss was built as a family manor house in the early 1700s. It then became a school and, at the time of the war, was being used for military training. It was then used as a prisoner of war camp for French prisoners, before being used to house our Channel Island families.

November 1942

8th November, 1942 “Today and we have had the best meal from the kitchen since we have been in Germany. Mr. Cassientiery has finally taken over from Mr. McQueen and since he has things have been swell. But today was Prima we had potatoes mashed up with dripping. Shredded cabbage well cooked and all over all a ladle of gravy and minced meat. What a change from soup, soup, eternal soup. And what is even better he hopes to be able to give a repeat performance twice a week. The Germans only allow 10 pounds of meat a day and some bones so he must have worked a miracle to be able to feed all 695 of us and make us all feel as if we really had had something to eat and not just feel full on a bowl of weak cabbage water.”

26 November, 1942. “We had another issue today of six pieces newspaper to use as toilet paper but it doesn’t go very far especially when there’s Swede soup!”

Inside a room in the Internment Camp

December 1942

2nd December 1942, “There is a whole lot on the noticeboard today. We would receive 10 marks a month. In canteen money of course. We would be taken for walks. Under guard of course. We would have a field given to us for football games etc. We would have Swiss delegation come and inspect us. A Red Cross delegation would come and make arrangements for clothing and food supplies. The order about lights out at 9.00 would not be altered as this universal all over Germany in order to save electricity. They had written to Paris and received notification that our trunks were on the way to us. These were trunks of clothing that we were told to pack up and leave in Jersey had a collection one per family. It is not so bad as we thought and certainly looks good on paper but will it all materialise?.”

December 3, 1942. There was a great panic today that the Germans were coming round to search for potatoes tomorrow and every one was baking or boiling their stock. Bar and I had four which were saving for starvation weekend but we baked them for supper.”

Red Cross Parcel

From the 12th November 1942 onwards it appears from the diary that the Red Cross began to send regular parcels to the camp. Each internee had to be registered individually to receive them. They did not lose their German rations and with both the rations and the parcels they probably fared better than those at home in Jersey. However towards the end of internment the food got more scarce and internees were even let out of the camp to get what food they could. Jean suffered with severe osteoporosis later in life, not totally unconnected to her poor diet in her late teens, early adulthood. In our house we never had “jacket spuds” and certainly never had cabbage soup ever!

Christmas 1942

The ceiling above the circular staircase

24th, December 1942 Christmas Eve “We were surprised to hear the violin being played outside our room about 8 o’clock and on opening the door we heard Oh, come all ye Faithful being played on the violin and organ We went outside and stood at the head of the stairs and looked down into the great round hall below and saw the organ lit by 4 candles and a group of men standing round it with hymn books All around the huge circular staircases which curved down to the bottom, people were standing and singing and many the handkerchief came out to wipe away the tears. It looked so lovely with the candles shining in the gloom of the bottom hall it was painful. We stood and sang Xmas hymns and ended up with Praise God from whom all blessing Flow. And truly we praise him and thank Him from the bottom of our hearts for making this unhappy Xmas into the most happy and most touching in all our lives. All the decorations have been made from Red Cross and all the good things to eat have come from them too. we truly are the happiest people on earth tonight. And the luckiest.”

January 1943

5th January 1943 “Our trunks (from home) are supposed to be at Biberach and Captain Hilton is said to have some Evening Posts. Rumor Again! I spoke too soon! The trunks are here and I have actually seen an Evening Post myself. Not much doing. The Plaza seems to be used for dances again. The dates of the papers were 8th and 9th December. Swede for Dinner lovely barley soup for tea. Spuds and cheese for supper. In the papers there was a letter of thanks for all the people who had donated clothing for us here but we have not seen anything of it yet.”

6th January 1943 “I saved some spuds from supper and opened a tin of Paleforths stew. We had an Evening Post of Dec 12th today and read it every word. All the ads at the back and all. Mr Patrickson saw his house was to be let unfurnished Mr Lewis saw his father’s burial notice and another woman saw her mothers. What a shock for them!”

27th January 1943. A rumourless day for once! Ten kitchen staff have voluntarily given up their extra rations so that everyone can have 4 to a loaf least twice a week. Got paid 19 marks for Toilet Cleaning”

29th January 1943. Rumours about blankets missing after last counting ‘skirts’ ”

February 1943

1st February 1943 “Had a lovely letter from Les Huelin today a real breath from Anne Port. he says he is sending two more parcels. pea soup for dinner spuds in their jackets for tea.”

17th February 1943 “Mrs Farbon had a letter from Mrs. Stenning saying that one boy and two girls had already been born at Biberach and another 11 were expected. Quite an increase in the number of internees! Fancy being born in Germany. Bar and I swopped 20 cigs. for a small tin of cheese yesterday and we are on the track of more swops.”

21st February 1943 “Good war news today. Russians are reported to be within 30 kilometres of the Polish border. Heard the town crier today announce a day of national prayer and then he said that all men between 14 and 45 report for duty. Looks like the war will be over soon if they’re calling up these age groups. Thank god! Had a tin of cheese for supper. Everyone in high spirits and we ended the evening with songs before bedtime.”

March 1943

2nd March 1943. “Weather is still very good with burning hot sunshine. We heard rumours that repatriation negotiations were concluded and that 7000 English people in Germany where to go home hope it is true.”

7th March 1943 There are lots of scandalous goings on in this place I think we shall have to have a divorce court soon Mr. H is paying obvious attention to Mrs. T. on walks and sitting and the sun he’s always by her side. They have been spotted walking up and down in a very quiet spot just near the hospital. Mrs M and Mr. D are another pair who have caused a lot of comment. Walking and sitting about together. There was a great to do down in the hospital about three weeks ago. Mrs. H went down and try to get her husband out of his hospital duty as she said he had been flirting with J she was very upset about it. They were reported to have been discovered kissing and cuddling. J has now transferred her attention to Mr. E and has been seen washing his hair and going out for walks with him. N is another lovesick devotee of Mr E and DS.”

Names are in full in the diary but we aim to spare blushes here. You can always get the details at the Jersey Archive.

9th March 1943. Rumours that negotiations have fallen through have officially been denied on the notice board.”

10th March 1943. Air raid warning again last night and we heard planes droning overhead the whole time for 2 hours. The flashes we saw all looked like lightening. I, of course went to sleep in the middle of it all.”

April 1943

3rd April 1943. Whilst scrubbing the stairs we heard some great news this morning — the boys are coming back from Laufen to rejoin their parents. Some are due tonight and some on Monday. No 62 on our landing has been got ready for them and Mr. Doughty will be in charge. We had Canadian parcels today. Have seen Geoff’s name (her brother) on the list.”

5th April 1943. Everyone was hanging around the gates at 6 o’clock and a cheer went up when the boys eventually arrived. What a scruffy looking lot! Geoff has had his hair shaved off and talks like a died in the wool convict. He said it was done as a joke! They have been in Munich prison for two nights and over Sunday had travelled here in convict vans four in a 4 foot space. what a journey they had.”

She later writes that the Laufen boys eventually decided to get transferred back there, the noise and commotion of a family camp proving too much for them. They preferred the comradeship of all male company.

At his point the diary entries get more sparse. She did say that it was lack of paper but I also think it is because things got a little more personal from that point.

New “Cast” Members

From left to right:

Valentine Albert Plain, born Portsmouth, age at deportation 15, occupation scholar.

Albert Plain, born in Portsmouth.

Florence Louise Plain née Le Galle, Jersey born.

Liberation “It was April 28th 1945 THE GREAT DAY”

Appended to the diary after the war had ended

“During the last year of internment several old and ill internees were repatriated at last to England. Unfortunately it was too late for Mrs Berry our roommate. We heard after the war that she and her family had to stay on in Sweden where she subsequently died.

Eventually more people who were mainly Jewish and Political prisoners from one of the concentration camps were brought to our camp as the war progressed across Germany. Romanian diplomats billeted in Dads room went to bed in hair nets!

Coal became scarce towards the end of the war and the row of lockers along the corridors in the new block suddenly lost their doors to the fires.

A Hitler Youth camp set to in the barracks at the back of the Schloss and many groups of very young boys were brought there for three weeks intensive training with anti tank guns which they could hardly lift onto their shoulders. Sometimes they would come to the wire and talk to us when their guards were out of sight and some wanted to go home to their mothers. We gave them chocolate when we had any to give. Then they were marched out to fight the French tanks.

Some days the skies were full of American planes droning overhead. Flying fortresses surrounded by fighters. The skies were black with them. We were not allowed to hang out of the windows to watch them so used to crouch underneath the sills and watch them all going over to bomb the German cities.

Later on a big white cross was painted on the roof of the Schloss. As the war grew closer we were not allowed outside the building at all and had to stay cooped up and listening to the gunfire getting nearer and nearer. One day we saw from the windows a stream of refugees and soldiers trailing through the village. Some had bandages and were being helped along. The villagers stood by the roadside and gave them what food they could spare. We saw a group of planes swoop down low and machine gun the road further up and out of sight of our windows.

French Armoured Truck — Children Playing with French Soldiers

At last we saw a tank drive into the Schloss it was French! We ran down the stairs and down to the side gate. A French soldier came up and spoke to the people near his tank then he kicked in the gates and we all poured onto the street. Tanks trundled along through the village and one of the first had the magic words ST MALO painted on the sides. How we cheered though our tears the words meant home and so much to us. The village of Haidgau further up the valley did not surrender and was pounded to pieces by the French guns.

Witnessing the effects of the bombing of Haidgau
French Soldier “Jacko” with his parrot ~ ~ Albert and Louise Plain with Romanian Internees
Valentine Plain and Jean Tipping before Repatriation

In an account written by Albert Plain in a document headed “A vivid experience that could conceivably happen only once in a lifetime,” after recounting his personal experiences of the liberation of the camp, he writes:

“The reader may now be asking was I affected emotionally. Yes but in a different way. I belonged to a minority that had a quiet confidence that we should be released in much the same manner as we actually were, I admit that I was quite taken aback on later being told by a French Officer that had the village showed resistance they would have withdrawn and shelling would have followed and in the event of that happening the Schloss would have been the first to suffer. He also volunteered the information that they had no knowledge of our presence in “Wurzach”.

Repatriation

Florence Tipping sitting on her case and ready to leave Wurzach

Jean continues: “We were allowed to go around the shops during the days when we were waiting to go home and bought materials and silk stockings with the rest of our German money.

All the villagers had to hand in their wireless sets and cameras etc. just as we had done when the Germans came to Jersey. Lots of them were taken by internees and must have found their way to England when we were taken home.

Motor bikes were commandeered too and Val and his friend got hold of one and rode all around the country side on it. Sometimes the French soldiers would throw grenades into the river and kill fish which would float up to the top of the water.

After the concentration camps had been found there were large placards put up around the village with pictures of the horrible atrocities which went on there and the words underneath saying Look this is what you Germans have done.

The first trucks arrive in Wurzach

Eventually the day came when we were told to pack up and wait by the gates . A long line of open trucks arrived and we all climbed in and said Goodbye to the Schloss. We drove though the countryside and came to Mengen Airfield. There were lots of American soldiers there who gave us lots to eat and plenty of fruit juices to drink. Of course we were all ill again as our stomachs were simply not used to all that rich food.

Finally on the way home

We saw plane loads of very sick people who looked like bags of bones lying on stretchers. They were being taken to hospitals in France and Switzerland and we were told they were the best cases from the concentration camps and the others in their thousands were simply too ill to move anywhere.

Ambulances from the Concentration Camps at Mengen Airfield

“We could see several planes on the side of the airfield in the distance one of which was pointed out to us to be an experimental model that the Germans were experimenting with which could take off straight up (this was probably a V2 rocket)

While living on the airfield we slept in hangars and tents while waiting our turn to go home in alphabetical order.

At last we boarded the Dakota with its seats down each side of the body of the plane. A troop carrying plane and we were off.”

“After circling round and round the church spire in Hendon we eventually landed on English soil”

What Happened Next?

In the first week of June 1945 members of the Tipping Family and the Plain Family flew back to Hendon and then on to Portsmouth.

23rd June 1945: Jean Tipping married Valentine Plain.

July 1945: Annette (Nan) was born in Portsmouth.

1946: Jean, Valentine and Annette arrived back in Jersey.

July 1946: Josette (Jo) was born.

March 1948: Suzette (Suzie) was born.

May 1949: Jeanette (Jeannie) was born.

1954: Nicolette was born (she died 2nd July 1954 aged four months).

July 1960: Juliette (Jules) Valentine was born.

And so, as my mother would say, “…if had not been for MR HITLER”

In memory of Jean Plain 1923–2010

Wife of 65 years

Mother of 6 girls

Grandmother to 11

Great-grandmother of …..