Belza Turner, 'heroine of Jersey'

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Belza Turner
Belza Turner

From the Toronto Daily Star, 15 May 1945

St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands

Canadian born Belza Turner, who tried to escape so she could give information to the Allies and then join the women’s division of the RCAF, was hailed today as the heroine of Jersey.

Belza, a beautiful brunette of 22, who came here with her family from North Bay, Ontario, many years before the war, was sentenced to six months imprisonment by the Germans and had only a few days left to serve when the British liberation forces released her last week.

Escape attempt recounted

Belza told yesterday how she and a Dutch lad named Siebe Koster set out in a small dinghy one night last autumn. By daylight they reached the vicinity of the harbour of St Malo, France, only to have the treacherous current swing them around. A storm came up and after a vain all-day effort, they went ashore on the rocks off Guernsey.

Next day the two started out again without food and water. They saw land and thought it was France.

“We managed to get ashore but we nearly fell back into the water when a German sentry walked up and told us we were in Jersey,” she said. “I slumped to the ground and wept.”

Death sentences

The German commandant sentenced Belza to six months for attempting to escape, and Siebe to one year. It was Belza’s third term in the island jail for various offences against German regulations and she spent it with two elderly Frenchwomen, who were the only Jersey women to be sentenced to death.

These women, Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe, were reprieved just before the British troops arrived.

Belza, who seems to find it hard to realize that the war is over in Europe, still wants to join the RCAF. She also wants to visit Canada with her parents, Mr and Mrs George Turner, and her three sisaters, and call on her grandfathers, George Turner, of Carleton Place, Ontario, and Andrew Gladish of Appelton, Ontario, and her uncle, Chris Christiansen, of Carleton Place.

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