Guernsey Friends of Biberach

Fiona’s search for her grandparents’ story

Fiona MacEwen contacted the Guernsey Friends of Biberach from her home in England prior to her visit to Germany in June 2017 to try & find out more about her grandparents’ story (they had run The Wayside Cheer Hotel before being deported from Guernsey). She was put in contact with Helga and the Biberach Friends of Guernsey, who helped her discover more information in the missing four years of her grandparents’ lives.


Fiona MacEwen visits Biberach


“I have completed the circle”

Descendants of former internees visiting the former Lager Lindele

Biberach – Descendants of internees of the Lager Lindele are still visiting Biberach today in order to see the town where their grandparents were held captive. So did Fiona MacEwen from Dorset in England with her partner Nigel and her cousin’s daughter Dr Jacqueline Aston from Basel (Switzerland). Their many questions were answered by members of the Biberach Friends of Guernsey and Berthold Marschall (Police Academy).

Fiona MacEwen’s grandparents Irene and William Gilmour who used to run the Wayside Cheer Hotel in Guernsey, were deported on 10 August 1943 and interned in Biberach in the internment prisoner of war camp Lager Lindele. The grandparent to whom she had a good relation only spoke very little about their time of internment. “They were four lost years of their lives” said Fiona MacEwen.

Her mother emigrated to Scotland, the former home of the Gilmours, at the age of 18, only shortly before the German Invasion with the second to last postal ship. She only knew little about the difficult time her parents had. Their diary entries and letters which she received via the Red Cross only included little detail. Only after their release, the mother was able to see her parents again at a train station in London.

MacEwen said that she had a great desire to complete the image she had of her beloved grandparents through a trip to Biberach. Her grandparents’ life was very different from the life they had before the war as they not only lost all their belongings but as her grandfather was also incapable to work. Nonetheless they never lost their joy of life and their typical Glaswegian humour.

“I have now completed the circle” said MacEwen and filled the four-year gap and have answered a lot of questions. She now has an idea of how the life of her mother could have been if she had not reached that second to last postal boat to Scotland. She was particularly impressed by the model of the camp, which has been erected in the police academy as a reminder for future generations.

Grateful thanks to Stephanie Barnes for the translation.


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