The diaries of Ruth Ozanne give us a remarkable eyewitness account of daily life during the German occupation of Guernsey from 1940 to 1945. At the beginning of the occupation, there is an atmosphere of good-humoured defiance on the Island. The relatively few German soldiers are on their best behaviour and the Islanders are bolstered by a stream of optimistic rumours. Life gradually darkens, however, as vastly more arms and troops arrive, supported by Organisation Todt labourers, to make the Island part of Hitler's Atlantic Wall. Luxuries quickly disappear and severe food shortages make the struggle to survive considerably tougher. Periodic RAF raids and German artillery shatter the grim peace. The black market thrives while foreign labourers beg for food. There are deportations and many privations. Towards the end, both the Islanders and the occupying army are starving. Through it all, Ruth meticulously records the rumours, the rations, the scandals, the trials and the tribulations of life under the Nazis as she and her friend and housekeeper Florence battle to care for their home, their elderly relatives and 'gallant' Garry - Ruth's Highland Terrier. She writes with a dry wit and her diaries are testament to the resilience, resourcefulness and humanity of Guernsey people during the Second World War.
RUTH OZANNE was born in 1888 and died in 1970. For most of her life she lived in St Peter Port in Guernsey. She was a lifelong diary writer. Her first diary was written at the age of thirteen and her final diary was completed at the end of the Second World War. In between, she wrote sixteen volumes, including five volumes recounting her experiences as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse behind the lines in France during the First World War. After her death, the diaries passed to relatives but remained unread until they were discovered in an attic in Edinburgh in 2009. WILLIAM PARKER was brought up in Guernsey. His father, Major John Parker MBE, is mentioned in Ruth's diaries when John, a cousin of Ruth, was captured on a mission to Guernsey in September 1940. This family connection led to William's involvement in reading, cataloguing and editing Ruth's diaries when they came to light in 2009. He lives in Buckinghamshire, where he pursues his interests in history, sailing and gliding.