For one December night in 2015, a disused railway line in Somerset became the route to a German concentration camp.

Lying on the floor of a cramped railway wagon was A Woman of Substance and Judge John Deed actress Jenny Seagrove. In addition, standing on the side of the tracks was the former Boyzone singer Ronan Keating.

The unlikely setting - and pairing - were part of a scene for current cinema release 'Another Mother's Son', the story of a heroic Jersey housewife who risked her life to house an escaped Russian prisoner during the Nazi occupation of the Channel Island.

“When you put yourself in that position, to be on that train with women and children filming it and to imagine what it must have been like," recalls Jenny.

"They had nothing, they had no food, nothing to drink, people were dying. It was horrific to film it but of course I could get off. They couldn’t.”

Unlikely chance encounter

The scene depicted one of the Second World War’s most unlikely chance encounters, and the culmination of another of the conflict’s many inspirational tales of bravery in the face of brutality.

Louisa Gould was a fifty-something widow living under a second year of Nazi occupation in Jersey in 1942.

Unable to spare the resources to defend the strategically unimportant Channel Islands following Hitler’s successful invasion of France in the summer of 1940, Winston Churchill had left the islands to their fate, the only part of British soil to live under German rule during the war.

Louisa’s two sons had left to continue the fight for the Allies elsewhere but when a young Russian prisoner of war arrived on her doorstep (an escapee from the slave labour camp set up on the island), Louisa did what she felt every other mother would do, and gave him shelter at great personal risk.

Brazen behaviour

But far from hiding her fugitive away in an attic or cellar, Louisa was quite brazen in her behaviour with the man she affectionately called “Bill.” The pair were often spotted going on walks in the Jersey countryside, he accompanied her to church and helped out in the village convenience store she ran with her sister, Ivy (played by Sherlock's Amanda Abbington).

Her brother, Harold, played by Ronan Keating, helped teach him English.

All the time the family placed their trust in the local community to keep their guest a secret from the Germans but as the tide turned against Hitler’s forces on the European mainland, life on the Channel Islands became ever grimmer. In this climate, residents were tempted by the extra rations available for informing on those listening to BBC broadcasts on hidden radios or harbouring an escaped POW.

“It was Louisa’s positivity and her naivety that led to her to her downfall,” comments Seagrove, who is married to theatre impresario Bill Kenwright, who served as senior producer on the film.

“When you read the script or watch the film you can’t help thinking, `why were you so cavalier, you need to keep this man hidden, don’t let him out on the streets or take him to the shops.’

“But Louisa was a devout Christian, so she believed God would look after her, and she believed that her community would look after each other. It wasn’t like it was in the towns, in the community you looked out for your neighbours, you helped each other, you do not betray each other, and sadly somebody did.

“So it was her faith in others that ultimately let her down.”

Arrested along with Harold and family friend, Nicole, Louisa was sentenced to two years imprisonment and deported to Germany.

It was while being transported to Ravensbruck concentration camp that Louisa enjoyed a brief chance reunion with Harold, being held on the platform by guards as he waited for a train to take him to Bergen-Belsen.

Holocaust survivor

Seventy years later, and with rural Somerset standing in for Northern France, Seagrove and Keating did their best to recreate this heart breaking moment in time.

“I run a charity and the day we shot that scene was the same day as our Christmas lunch,” recalls Jenny. “I’d asked a Holocaust survivor, Ziggy Shipper, to be the guest speaker at the event and was able to speak to him about his experiences.

“He told me that it was to his deep shame, something that he can’t get past to this day, that when he was on one of those trains he prayed for someone to die so that he’d have room to sit down, it was that squashed.

“And the other thing he said was that the hunger dehumanised you, and I felt that about the people on Jersey, they got so hungry towards the end of the war that they forgot their humanity.

“But Louisa was one of those who never did, which is why we need to tell stories like this. I think it has a real resonance in modern society because it’s a story about love and community and courage.

“It’s an important story about a great woman.”