Monday, 5 May 2014

The Occupation: The Rev. Raymond Hornby remembers

As we approach Liberation Day in Jersey, this coming Friday, here is a piece I found when digging into "The Pilot Magazine" for 1995.
The Jersey Archive catalogue has most of the registration cards for Islanders, and I found:
Registration Card of Raymond Sefton Hornby, of The Rectory, St John, born 11/05/1898
That means that the Rector of St John would have been 42 in 1940, when the occupation began.
The Occupation: The Rev. Raymond Hornby remembers
(From The Pilot, 1995)
Five years of occupation by enemy forces was a very hard and difficult time, but thank God we came through all safe and sound.
I can remember that day in June 1940 when my wife and myself were in the garden at the Rectory of St John as I was then Rector of the parish. In those days the Rectors were still members of the. States; it was not till after the war that both the Rectors and Jurats came out of the states and were replaced by what are now known as Senators.
The German commander said that we were to continue meeting at the States but we were very careful not to discuss matters which we felt were not a concern of the occupying forces. We used to meet regularly as a small committee appointed by the states consisting of the late Deputy Le Masurier who was chairman, the managers of the Electricity Company, Waterworks Company and Gas Company, and myself.
We were able by making false statements of the accounts of the Gasworks, Electricity Company and waterworks, to keep things going for longer than they would have been if the Germans had got to know the financial position of these companies.
We always had in our minds that the Occupation would not last long and that we would be freed by the British, so it helped us to live through those difficult years.
We were allowed to hold services in our churches, but one had to be very careful in what we said in our sermons as there was always a German soldier hiding behind one of the pillars of the church: listening to every word. Members of the congregation would give one a sign that there was a German present in the congregation.
The woman folk had a very difficult time trying to keep us men fed and I feel that they need to be highly mentioned. Those who were able would collect corn in the country, although this was forbidden by the Germans, and they used to take it to be ground into flour at a mill in the parish, I think it was St Ouen, to take to the elderly and needy.
When one looks back one realises how much we depended upon our faith in God and in all His goodness to us. Anyway we came through after five long years when we had no news of our families and friends who were in England.
Little did we realize at that time that it would be so long, and always lived day by day thinking that the end was near.
It seems long ago that one has forgotten many of the things that happened. The Rev Cohu, who was acting Rector of St Saviour's, used to ride around the town on his bicycle shouting "Good news, it all will soon be over", he was trying to cheer people up, but unfortunately the Germans arrested him and sent him to a concentration camp. We never heard of him again but we understood that he had died.
There are of course many things one could relate if one's memory went back that far. It is sufficient to say that we came through it all and remain to tell of some of our experiences and are thankful that we are here still.
I must end this as I am sure that there are others who could give: a better account and be able to relate instances which I have forgotten. May I end by saying that these happenings in one's life make one realize how much we need a strong faith in God at all times and especially through such experiences of being imprisoned on an Island by an enemy.
Those indeed were grin days but with God's help we came through it to tell the tale.

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