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MBE for Jersey nurse who defied Nazis sold at auction

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  • World War Two
image copyrightHansons
image captionAnnie Thornley, known as Betty, worked as a nurse under the Nazi Occupation of Jersey in World War Two

An MBE medal of a nurse who risked her life to help others under Nazi rule in Jersey has sold at auction.

Annie Thornley, known as Betty, became a matron in Jersey's Maternity Hospital in 1941 during the German Occupation of the Channel Islands.

She is said to have delivered babies by candlelight, and smuggled food out of the hospital for islanders in need.

An archive of her awards, including letters from Downing Street, was bought for £480 by a private UK buyer.

The Staffordshire-born nurse moved to Jersey before it fell under the control of German forces in World War Two from 1940 to 1945.

Strict orders requiring lights out by 23:00 forced Betty to work in precarious situations, and her efforts ensured babies and mothers made it through the night.

Those who disobeyed German rules risked deportation and imprisonment, during which some inmates died.

image copyrightHansons
image captionThe collection includes Betty's MBE medal and letters from Downing Street informing her of the award

Her niece, now retired nurse Valerie Deaville, said Betty "did everything she could to help the islanders and her patients."

"She was so kind. She even sent food parcels back to Burton to help my mum as I was one of four children," she said.

"All of our family are very proud of what she achieved."

In 1955, Betty was appointed MBE in the Queen's New Years Honours List for her services to nursing.

image copyrightHansons
image captionBetty Thornley, second from left, met The Queen Mother during her time as a nurse

Her award collection includes congratulatory letters from Downing Street and well-wishes from the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey.

A photograph captures the moment she met The Queen Mother during her nursing career.

After dedicating 54 years to the profession, Betty moved back to Staffordshire in 1990 where she died at the age of 95.

Jim Spencer, of Hansons Auctioneers in Staffordshire, described the collection as a "wonderful find" that demonstrated the "bravery and dedication shown by nurses through the generations".

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