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Salvation Army Ministry Honoured With Blue Plaque

A blue plaque in honour of Salvation Army minister Major Marie Ozanne will be unveiled (23 February 2013), recognising her remarkable moral stance during the German Occupation of Guernsey, which ultimately may have cost her life.

Major Ozanne returned to Guernsey on leave from service in France in early 1940. She remained when the Germans occupied the island in the summer. In January 1941 the German authorities banned The Salvation Army: no further religious services were permitted and they prohibited the wearing of uniform.

Major Ozanne made public protests against the closure of corps. She continued to preach the Scriptures in public in her uniform – until it was confiscated – and wrote directly to the German authorities to protest against the persecution of Jews, against the deportation of British-born islanders and the ill-treatment of Organisation Todt labourers on the island.

Direct and open protest by individuals against Nazi persecution was rare. Major Ozanne’s clarity of moral vision and courage in obeying her conscience and her absence of personal bitterness or hatred of the occupiers, even at the end of her life, marked her out for this award. The Salvation Army itself recognised Major Ozanne’s contributions when in 1947 it posthumously awarded her with its highest honour – the Order of the Founder.

Proposals to officially mark Major Ozanne’s ministry were put forward to the Guernsey blue plaque scheme, which recognises Guernsey people who have made important contributions to the Bailiwick and wider world. Each nominated person must meet a basic selection criteria – a building associated with the nominee must survive in Guernsey and the nominee must have been dead for 20 years or have passed the centenary of birth. Proposals are then considered by Guernsey’s blue plaque panel and administered by the Museums Service.

Researchers have gathered information on Major Ozanne from her diaries from 1942 to her death in February 1943; transcripts of her letters to the German authorities – some collected by British Intelligence after the Liberation, others held by the Army’s International Heritage Centre; German reports about her; Guernsey police reports on her arrests and interviews; and reminiscences of those who knew her, including family and friends.

The official unveiling ceremony will take place outside Major Ozanne’s childhood home – ‘Aquarius’, le Dehus Lane, Vale, on 23 February 2013 at 11 am. The Bailiff of Guernsey Richard Collas will unveil the plaque and The Salvation Army’s Guernsey corps – L’Islet, St Peter Port and St Sampson’s Community Centre – will participate. Divisional Commander Lieut-Colonel Graham Owen will speak on behalf of The Salvation Army.

Lieut-Colonel Graham Owen said: “It is a privilege to recognise the courageous and heartfelt ministry of Major Marie Ozanne during the German Occupation of Guernsey. The Salvation Army works in 126 countries, serving without judgment those who are most vulnerable. Major Ozanne’s conviction to challenge persecution and ill-treatment of labourers – knowing her life could be in danger for doing so – exemplified this service during the Second World War.”

Refreshments will be served at L’Islet Corps after the ceremony.