Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Young British women who fell in love with German soldiers stationed on the island

Discussion in 'WWII Films & TV' started by PzJgr, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

    Dec 19, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Jefferson, OH
    I've watched a couple of British shows on the subject of life in the occupied Channel Islands. "Island at War" and "Enemy at the Door". Island at War was better and wished they had continued with more seasons


    An upcoming movie is set during a dark time in Britain’s history. Starring Lily James of Downton Abbey fame, “The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society” tells the tale of Guernsey Island in World War II when the Germans invaded it and the other Channel Islands, and Britain sent no aid whatsoever.

    The Nazis controlled the islands for five years while Britain did nothing. Close to starving without the food supplies from their own country, the islanders survived on a desperate diet that included potato peel pie and blancmange made out of red moss from the beaches. They used bramble leaves and ground roasted parsnip when they ran out of tea and coffee.

    But the focus of the film is another subject entirely – young British women who fell in love with German soldiers stationed on the island. Many of them were left with babies when the Germans surrendered and the occupiers left.

    Photo: Studio Canal

    According to Madeleine Bunting, a historian, and author of The Model Occupation, the German soldiers liked sunbathing on the beaches wearing as little clothing as was publicly acceptable.

    According to Bunting, the older, more conservative women were “horrified” at the Germans’ lack of decency. But the younger ladies were intrigued by these bronzed, muscle-bound young men.

    That the soldiers had more food and were able to purchase perfume, stockings and other gifts didn’t hurt either.

    Besides, most of the young British men were away serving in the army. And the Germans didn’t look like the enemy when they weren’t wearing uniforms.

    The locals called the young ladies who got too close to the enemy “Jerrybags.” Still, some of the young ladies managed to find true love with a German soldier.

    Photo: Studio Canal

    Dolly Edwards was one of those ladies. She fell in love with German signaller Willi Joanknecht. When the war ended, they were the first Anglo-German couple to get married. That got them a ban from returning to Guernsey.

    Dolly was 14 when the war started. She was supposed to be evacuated with the women and children, but she missed the last boat out, so she stayed with her aunt.

    Three days later, the Germans attacked. German planes killed 34 locals.

    On June 30, 1940, the Germans invaded the islands without a single shot being fired.

    Three years later, Dolly was accused of stealing a loaf of bread from the shop where she was employed. She was jailed in Lille, France, for four months. She was then shipped with slaves to help build bunkers and fortifications along the Guernsey coast.

    Photo: Studio Canal
    Willi was on the same boat returning from leave. He recognized her as the girl who had watched him playing soccer and who stuck her tongue out at him every time he looked at her.

    Willi then brought Dolly above deck and gave her coffee and food. He started to teach her German, and she taught him English as their relationship developed.

    In spite of her family’s concerns, Dolly refused to stop seeing Willi.

    After D-Day, the Channel Islands were blocked off from France. Churchill still refused to send supplies in an attempt to starve the German’s off the island.

    By Christmas, the islanders were starving to the point that the Red Cross sent them relief packages.

    Photo: Studio Canal
    According to Duncan Barrett, author of Hitler’s British Isles, the Germans were reduced to eating cats, dogs and raw vegetables they dug up from gardens. But they did not eat the Red Cross packages.

    On May 9, 1945, Guernsey was liberated.

    Just before that date, Dolly gave birth to a boy she named Tony after a woman called Antonio that Dolly said had saved her life in prison.

    The German soldiers were sent to POW camps. Dolly managed to get to the dock and hold baby Tony up for Willi to see as he sailed away.

    Dolly had no idea where Willi would be sent in Britain, but she went to Britain anyway to start her life while she looked for him.

    Photo: Studio Canal
    By coincidence, she ended up in the same place as Willi. She took a job, and Willi was working in the fields next door.

    In 1946, they received their license to marry, even while Willi was still a POW.

    After Willi was released, they found that the mayor of Guernsey had forbidden them to return, so they settled in Britain. They had four more children together.

    Willi passed away in 2015 after 68 years of marriage. Dolly died last year.

    Source: Beautiful Love Story: Young British women who fell in love with German soldiers stationed on the island
    Kai-Petri and JJWilson like this.
  2. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Arizona U.S.A
    It's nice to see a show where the Germans aren't portrayed as ravenous and racist monsters, were there some? Of course, but there were also decent, loving, and well mannered ones as well. This show gets my stamp of approval!!
  3. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Jul 31, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Great one.

    We had a couple of thousand of German soldiers having affairs with Finnish women and many even left to Germany with them, and also Red Army soldiers who were ordered to take care of Finnish farms as the "Boss" was out in the front, we have several hundred babies by the Red Army POW´s.

    As the war ended with the USSR Finland was forced to declare war to Germany. In German harbours for instance all Finnish crew members were sent to the concentration camps September 1944. that was a long time if it lasted until may 1945.
  4. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

    Nov 20, 2012
    Likes Received:
    The Arid Zone
    Off topic, but Google the "Train at Farsleben." There are a bunch of stories about it, but when you dig deep enough you learn that this "death train" was moving Jews and other prisoners ahead of the advancing allies. Some Finnish soldiers (prisoners) escaped while it was parked at a siding, found a column of tanks (743rd Tank Battalion) attached to the US' 30th Division and lead them back to the train. The German guards all ran away and 2,500 prisoners were liberated. Most stories leave the Finnish soldiers out of it. Leaving them out is likely not intentional, this was the final days of the war and the entire 9th army was rushing to the Elbe. There was no time to document things in detail, but when you dig around you'll learn about the Finns. Pretty courageous really, the Germans would have shot them on sight and the Americans (seeing those Germanic uniforms) might have shot them on sight as well. Somehow, they got their message across to the lead tankers and the entire column diverted to Farsleben and rescued the prisoners.

    A-58, Kai-Petri and lwd like this.

Share This Page