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Monday 18 April 2011

A Different Kind of Hero

One of the most beautiful stories of WWII, and one that shows heroism in a different light, is that of Miriam Milbourne, about whom I know little except for her heroism, which wasn’t of the kind that requires an impulsive moment of great courage, but rather a far-seeing vision, and the fruits of her efforts can be enjoyed today.

During the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands, food was in desperately short supply due to the British blockade, and the islanders were compelled to hand over any livestock to the occupying forces.

By the time of the occupation, Miss Millbourne (she is always described as Miss Miriam Milbourne, which I presume is meant as a mark of respect from that era) had been carefully ensuring the survival of the almost-extinct breed of beautiful Golden Guernsey goats by careful breeding programmes for about fifteen years. She was not going to willingly submit her beautiful animals to feed the Nazi invaders and so she somehow managed to conceal them in caves throughout the entire length of the occupation, knowing that if she had been caught, she would have been sentenced to death.

Happily, she and the goats survived. It was 1967 before the herd was successfully
introduced to England, and to my utter delight, there are beautiful Golden Guernsey goats in the farm of Temple Newsam. These gorgeous creatures are so noble in appearance, and so friendly and self-contained that it is impossible to imagine that they could have been wiped out were it not for the courage and love of this little-known heroine.

Animals have suffered a great deal in human conflicts. Over 8 million horses were killed in the First World War (8 million!! and what did they know of human wars?); during Idi Amin’s reign of terror in Uganda, elephants were horrifically slaughtered; the habitats of numerous animals have been destroyed on battlefields; sniffer dogs have been killed while searching for explosives....Thank heavens for someone like ‘Miss’ Miriam Milbourne whose courage enables me and so many thousands of other people to enjoy the beauty of the lovely Golden Guernseys today.


Anonymous said...

Le contenu était vraiment très intéressant. Je suis vraiment reconnaissante à vous de fournir cette information unique. S'il vous plaît continuez à partager des informations de plus en plus ......
Or Guernesey chèvres

Christina said...

Thank you for commenting! Your book looks very interesting and I would like to learn more. Alas, I am not a goat expert, I just love the beautiful Golden Guernsey goats who lived in the lovely grounds of Temple Newsam House.
I will add another link to your book on this site :-)