Guernsey Press

Friend of Golden Guernsey herder seeks to dispel myths

MYTHS around a woman who helped get Golden Guernsey goats recognition should be dispelled, a friend of the herder has said.

Picture by Sophie Rabey. 10-12-19. Carolyn Drewitt talks about Miriam Milbourne and her keeping of Guernsey Goats. Collage of old pictures of both Carolyn and Miriam through the years. (26630638)

Carolyn Drewitt was very young when she met Miriam Milbourne, who kept the goats during the Second World War.

In recent years Ms Drewitt has watched as stories appeared in books, television and on the internet about her friend. But not all are accurate and now she is keen to set the record straight.

‘A lot of misinformation has been written, mainly by goat breeders on the mainland about Miss Milbourne and her goats during the five years of German occupation,’ she said.

‘One myth is that she hid them in caves. As we islanders know well, there are no caves on L’Ancresse beach and also the common was heavily fortified, so she wouldn’t have had access to the beach anyway.’

Another myth Ms Drewitt is endeavouring to dispel relates to the apparent hiding of the goats.

‘This is completely untrue,’ Ms Drewitt said.

‘Miss Milbourne used a small field opposite where she used to live with her parents – not on the common during the Occupation – and her small herd of goats were out during the daytime. Only at night they were locked securely [standard practice during the war years]. They were never hidden from the Germans or anyone during the daytime. Nancy Allen and her father kept goats at Route Militaire and their goats were tethered out every day next to the railway line that was built and used daily by the Germans.’

Ms Drewitt also said that the stories of goats being eaten by the starving occupants of the island were not true.

She says that at the end of the Occupation the States recorded that there were 347 female and 19 male goats in the island.

Ms Drewitt first met Miss Milbourne and her goats when she was about four.

‘One day I was at L’Ancresse Lodge Hotel, which was owned by my uncle, when I heard someone shout “it’s the goats”,’ she said.

‘I then remember a lot of men, about four or five, running out of the public bar to chase the goats out of the garden of the red cottage next door where they were eating all of the lovely tulips. Miss Milbourne arrived on her horse and between them all they got the goats back on to the common.’

She said that they often helped Miss Milbourne with her goats.

‘Her goats were often just free to roam over the common, which was not without problems for the neighbours – their gardens were raided and plants eaten on several occasions,’ she said.

‘We found it exciting going around the gorse bushes in the dark with Miss Milbourne and her hurricane lamp untying the goats.’

One incident on the common sticks out in Ms Drewitt’s memory.

‘A well-known lady golfer was looking for her golf ball which had landed near Miss Milbourne’s rather fierce billy goat. The goat pushed her into a gorse bush and she had to be rescued by the green keeper.’

Miss Milbourne, along with Kay Dennis of Duvaux Farm, were great ambassadors for the breed, Ms Drewitt said, and worked hard to get Golden Guernsey goats recognised by the British Goat Society.

The pair were also some of the first to export to some breeders on the UK mainland in the 1960s.