2nd May 1918

Guernsey deportee, nurse Gladys Skillett was born

Nurse Gladys Skillett was the first British woman to give birth while incarcerated in occupied Europe.

A Guernsey resident, Skillett had been born on the island in 1918. She was deported from the Channel Islands to the internment camp at Lindele in 1942, when five months pregnant. When she entered labour she was taken to hospital at Biberach an der Riss, where she gave birth to a son called David.

Upon arrival at the maternity ward, she had been put into the same room as a local woman, Maria Koch. Although they were on opposite sides, and neither could speak the other’s language, they quickly made friends, and that friendship endured throughout and beyond the end of the war.

Friends on opposing sides

Maria Koch’s husband, who had been on duty in the Netherlands at the time of the birth, returned to see his new son, and convinced his superiors to allow him and his wife to visit Skillett at the camp. They couldn’t enter her camp, but they were able to talk through the fence, and the German family passed small gifts through the wire.

Gladys Skillett, her husband and her elder son, Colin, had been deported because her husband was English-born. According to her obituary in The Times, she had been booked on one of the last boats to leave Guernsey before the occupation began. However, when German forces bombed the harbour she had dashed to the hospital to help treat the wounded. When she returned the following morning, the last ship had sailed. She was trapped.

Along with more than 800 of her fellow islanders, she was taken to an internment camp to be used as a bargaining chip in an effort by Germany to secure the release of its own captive citizens. The bargain was never accepted, and Skillett remained at the camp until it was liberated by Allied forces on 23 April 1945.

Gladys Skillett died in February 2010.

 

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Other events that occured in May

Priaulx Library opens for the first time 1st
Horse racing returns to L’Ancresse race course 2nd
Guernsey deportee, nurse Gladys Skillett was born
“Twink” goes missing on its way to Guernsey 3rd
Role of Chief Minister of Guernsey abolished 4th
Guernsey Airport opened for business 5th
Alderney debated in the House of Commons 6th
Songs of Praise comes from Guernsey 7th
Final issue of Deutsche Guernsey-Zeitung was published 8th
Guernsey was liberated from German occupation 9th
A Guernsey retiree’s £1m offer attracts 57,000 requests 10th
A liberation celebration ended in disaster 11th
Guernsey plays Tottenham Hotspur 12th
Guernsey’s telephone wars broke out 13th
British papers reported Dame of Sark’s deportation 14th
The States of Guernsey bought Aurigny 15th
Alderney was liberated at the end of the second world war 16th
Herm goes back on the market 17th
A mainland murder with a Guernsey connection 18th
Guernsey declared a State of Emergency 19th
Wartime diplomat Wilfred Gallienne born in Guernsey 20th
Hauteville House is bequeathed to the City of Paris 21st
Guernsey poet and painter Denys Corbet was born 22nd
John Doyle was appointed Lieutenant-Governor 23rd
The Imperial Hotel opened for the first time 24th
Elizabeth College is founded in St Peter Port 25th
Game of Thrones actor Roy Dotrice was born 26th
Head of Guernsey CID is shot in St Peter Port 27th
Work started on the Victoria Tower
Guernsey’s first paid constables were hired 28th
Guernsey woman advised to leave for her safety 29th
Occupation stories occupy the mainland papers 30th
“Overdose” verdict in Guernsey farmer’s death inquiry 31st