Gloria Bullen

Gloria Bullen nee Webber

Deported and Interned in Germany

Gloria back row 2nd from right at Wurzach 2

Gloria - Back row, second from right

Gloria was born and brought up in Jersey in the Channel Islands. After the fall of France the Germans invaded and occupied the Island from June 1940. Hitler ordered all male residents, not born in Jersey, between the ages of 16 and 70 and their families to be deported and interned in Germany. As Gloria’s father was originally a cockney from the East-end of London his family was included in the total of 1,200 islanders to be deported. The family had only hours to prepare for the journey. They could take only one blanket, bowl, knife, fork and spoon and one Jersey pound in cash.

Gloria at Schloss Wurzach from a painting by Thomas Webber Glorias father Copy

The journey by sea took them to St Malo and then by train across France, Belgium and Germany arriving at Biberach army barracks after three days. A few weeks later the islanders were separated and Gloria’s family travelled, along with nearly 600 others, to Schloss Wurzach.  The Schloss was a grand baroque palace built in the 18th Century which had fallen on hard times and was now being used as a prison camp. It was cold, damp and very dirty. 12 of the internees died during their stay. Men and women lived in different parts of the building. Gloria’s mother Elsie and her six children lived and slept in a single room for 2 ½ years and there was only a small amount of outdoor space for children to play. Schooling in the camp was irregular, with few teaching materials. Gloria has always regretted that she missed so much of her education. The internees themselves led classes to teach the children various skills, like sewing. Red Cross parcels were a life-line to supplement the food provided and everything from the parcels was used. The string was used to make rope sandals and the cellophane from cigarette packs was used to make belts or handbags.

As the war drew to its end, the internees were worried about their fate. Would they be taken hostage, be killed by the Germans or rescued by the British? They painted the Union Jack on a sheet to hang outside the building so the British troops would realise they weren’t German. The Wurzach camp was liberated by Free French troops on 28th April 1945. The family then had a frustrating time, they could not be repatriated to Jersey because everyone on the island was starving. Eventually they were taken by Dakota aircraft to Hendon, UK arriving on 8th June 1945. In August they were allowed to return to Jersey.

After schooling Gloria worked at Jersey pottery. She moved to Cornwall in 1954 when she married Norman Bullen and eventually settled in St Mawes, where they ran a haulage business. Gloria still lives in the village.

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