21st September 1941

Occupation resister Winifred Green was deported

Many people win medals for bravery during wartime. Sadly, Winifred Green was not one of them, although she probably should have done.

With her children, John and Patricia, evacuated to Glasgow, Winifred took at job at the Royal Hotel in St Peter Port. She had started there just before the occupation and couldn’t have known that doing so would put her directly up against the Germans.

When the first troops landed at Guernsey Airport they were taken to the hotel to meet the Bailiff. Once the occupation began in earnest, they made the hotel their initial base of operations.

Winifred’s retort

One of Winifred’s colleagues was an ardent supporter of Hitler. He would often greet her, or finish a conversation, with Heil Hitler. Not willing to put up with it, Winifred would reply with Heil Churchill – a phrase that later became her nickname.

She might have been able to carry on doing this right through the war if it hadn’t been for an outburst over a rice pudding. When her colleague offered her some, only on the condition that she – Winifred – said Heil Hitler, Winifred told him to stuff it: “To hell with Hitler for a rice pudding”.

German solders arrested her a few days later and tried her for “anti-German information”. She admitted what she’d said and was sentenced, on 13 September 1941, to six months’ custody. She had not been allowed a defence representative at the trial.

After a week or two (accounts vary) in Guernsey prison, she was sent to Granville prison, and then moved to Caen Prison.

Indomitable spirit

Although there are accounts of her finding prison life difficult, incarceration seems not to have dulled Winifred’s spirit. She tore away part of her prison blanket and embroidered it “Heil Churchill; RAF; Caen Prison 1941”. When she was released, she sewed this into the lining of her coat and smuggled it back to Guernsey.

A story in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle of 15 May 1945 claims that the chef who is suspected of reporting her was Swiss. He was apparently later caught stealing by the Germans and sentenced to three and a half years in Mannheim prison.


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