A SCOTTISH nun who spent six years courageously hiding from the Nazis in a French convent during the Second World War has died in Dundee, nine months after celebrating her 100th birthday.
• Sister Anne Green was born in Springfield in Fife
• A requiem mass for Sister Anne will be held on Wednesday in Dundee’s Wellburn Chapel
Sister Anne Green was forced to go into hiding to evade capture two years after she entered the order of the Little Sisters of the Poor.
And at one point she concealed herself in a cart of potatoes to evade discovery by a German patrol after briefly leaving the convent in search of food.
Sister Anne, one of 11 children, was born in Springfield, near Cupar in Fife, in May 1912 and later moved with her family to Dundee. As a child she was inspired by the work of the Little Sisters of the Poor which runs the Wellburn Home in the city and entered the order in 1937.
Two years later, shortly before the outbreak of the war, she took her vows at the Mother House in La Tour in Brittany where the order had been founded. And when the Nazis invaded France she was moved to a house run by the Little Sisters near Belgian border.
Speaking last year as she celebrated her 100th birthday, Sister Anne recalled:”When the Germans occupied the town, the mayor phoned the Reverend Mother and warned her that if there were any British citizens there, she should send them away.
“There were four of us, including an Australian, and she told the mayor that there was nowhere for us to go. He said he would burn our registration papers and that we should remain in hiding.”
For the next six years Sister Anne remained in hiding at the home, helping to care for the home’s elderly residents.
She explained: “When they (the Germans) came to the home, where we looked after many old people, we would hide either in the cellars or in the attic. This went on for six years, but no one ever betrayed us.
“I used to look out the window and long to be able to go outside, but it was too dangerous.”
Sister Anne, however, came close capture after she persuaded her fellow Sisters to allow her to leave the home to help collect fruit and vegetables from neighbouring farms. She set off with another Sister and an elderly man who helped around the home on the food gathering mission. But, as they set off to return to the home, they spotted a German patrol in the distance. Sister Anne had no choice but to hide in the back of the cart amongst the potatoes they had gathered.
Said Sister Anne: “My heart was hammering as the Germans approached. I was sure I would be found. I prayed like I’d never prayed before. They asked the old man and the Sister for their papers and what they had in the cart.
“The two of them remained so calm and just told them it was fruit and vegetables for the home. I hardly dared breathe and then they just told them to move on. I never ventured out of the home again.”
Her days in hiding finally ended in 1945 when American tanks rolled into the village. Sister Anne told how she had run up to the American commander and stopped the convoy.
She said: “I told the American soldier my younger brother Tom was in the Army and asked him to find him. He said to me, ‘Sister, there are just a couple of million soldiers back there, but I’ll see what I can do.’
“Two days later, they found him and brought him to see me. I will never forget seeing him walking in. It was absolutely wonderful.”
Sister Anne remained in France for another four years, working in a number of homes run by the order before finally returning to Britain in 1949. She then worked in various homes for the elderly run by the Little Sister of the Poor around the UK before returning to Dundee in 1993 where she ran the shop at Wellburn. She also made soft toys to raise money for the home.
Mother Aimee, the Mother Superior at Wellburn, paid tribute to the popular centenarian. She said: “She was exemplary. Her continual smile and serenity were testimonies to her happiness in religious life.
“She will be greatly missed by all of us in the community.”
A requiem mass for Sister Anne will be held tomorrow (Wednesday) in Dundee’s Wellburn Chapel and will be led by Bishop Vincent Logan, Bishop Emeritus of Dunkeld, and priests of the diocese.