Traveling Tuesday: Sark During WWII
However, many on the island thought she was a match for the Germans, and they weren’t far off.
The fifty-six-year-old woman was a descendent of one of the forty original families who arrived in
As on the other islands, the German rules and regulations applied to Sark, including blackouts, curfews, opening hours of public house, fishing, etc. However, as the islanders had no motor cars, those laws were moot. Initially, there was much fraternization, and Dame Sibyl was able to get some of the mandates softened to include the ability to fish within three miles of the coast and for two boats to travel to Guernsey to sell their catches and return with fuel for the botas. Christmas Eve was celebrated together.
Soldiers regularly rotated and additional soldiers arrived bringing the total to two hundred. At one point, the new group was reportedly “full of high-handed bureaucrats” who created more restrictive rules that often made no sense, such as when they limited fishing without paying attention to tide tables, resulting in a fall in the fish catch. Eventually, the new “regime” learned to learn to advice from Dame Sibyl before issuing orders.
By 1942, visitors were no longer allowed on the island, and the only excuse for a local visit to Guernsey was toothache. With a dentist on Sark, fake toothaches became common so residents could spend a few days off the island. Radios were confiscated, and in September an order was issued to send all men of English parents to camps in Germany. Dame Sibyl took that to mean non-Sark-born people, reducing the list to only nine individuals.
|Photo: Phillip Capper|
February 1943 brought a section batch of deportees, a list of sixty people originally but again Dame Sibyl managed to get the group whittled down. Only twenty-five were sent away, including her American husband Robert Hathaway. Food and fuel became even more scarce. Another commando riad was made just after Christmas, but was unsuccessful.
The Guernsey Underground New Sheet (GUNS) illegally published British news. The group was caught and imprisoned where two would die before the end of the war. When Cherbourg and St. Malo fell to the Americans, the islands were cut off and both civilian and German rations were reduced. In retaliation, Dame Sibyl and a few of the islanders raided the German supply of grain and managed to cart off nearly a ton that was distributed to the Sarkees.
As mentioned earlier in the post, the Germans had indeed met their match in Dame Sibyl Hathaway. Her husband eventually returned to the island with the other deportees, and she would hold her position until her death on July 14, 1974.
World War II is finally over, and America is extra grateful as the country approaches this year’s Thanksgiving. But for Francine life hasn’t changed. Despite working at Fort Meade processing the paperwork for the thousands of men who have returned home, she’s still lonely and very single. Is she destined for spinsterhood?
Grateful that his parents anglicized the family surname after emigrating to the United States after the Great War, first-generation German-American Ray Fisher has done all he can to hide his heritage. He managed to make it through this second “war to end all wars,” but what American woman would want to marry into a German family. Must he leave the country to find wedded bliss?
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