Friday, 7 October 2011


I have been fascinated by this largely forgotten heroine since I first heard of her and I am now engaged in researching material for a play that I would like to write about her.

Jane was born in the last years of the nineteenth century in a little village called Dunscore in the South West of Scotland. She was a more than able pupil at school, becoming Dux (top pupil in her year) at Dumfries Academy.

After a career in Commerce she went on to train to be a Missionary and secured a position as Matron of The Church of Scotland Mission School in Budapest.

She was home in Scotland on holiday when World War 2 started and, against the advice of family and friends and her bosses, she went back to be with her girls.

She was gassed in Auschwitz on the seventeenth of July 1944.

At one point Jane was made to sew the Star of David onto the clothes of the children in her care.


The stars fell out of the sky
and, if you could have done,
you would have gathered them up,
one by one,
and stationed them once again
in their rightful quarters
and, as before,
their shining would have shamed
the darkness around them.
But, instead, they made you
sew them into all those
little coats and dresses,
forcing you to chain
all the bright and shimmering
to the dull clod
of a poisoned earth.
Then, at the dying breath
of that great evil,
just when hope -
fragile as a Spring flower -
broke ground,
you were sucked into the maw
and in your presence
the darkness all around you
was shamed into nothingness.

John R, Nicoll.


  1. I like the poem. Yes we are a world apart but it is always interesting to find out about the other world out there.

  2. In what way are you relating her to Oscar Schindler? Did she manage to save some of her pupils?

  3. I think not so much of Schindler as of Father Damien of Molokai, who was not obligated by anything but his conscience to assist the lepers that had been exiled by the fearful government of Hawaii. Different times, different political dynamics, but someone who could have taken another path chose to care for the doomed and became one of them.