Friday, 24 April 2015

An Occupation Diary – Part 11

In 1972, the Pilot magazine began an exclusive serialisation of private letters from the late Mrs G Luce de Pre, which had taken the form of letters written to her absent children and grand-children, covering the period July 9 1940 to June 6 1945.

I suspect it has not been read much since then, 45 years ago, so here is a second chance in this special 70th Anniversary year to read some of it.

An Occupation Diary – Part 11
January 12, 1943

I am home again after a very pleasant little holiday. Jim and Harold were so good to me, and I was sorry to leave them. Wilfrid came to take me to Maryland in the "chair ", and it poured with rain all the way. I was well protected with rugs, mackintosh cover, and another over my head, and did not get at all wet, but Wilfrid did, and had to change everything. It's the second time he has had such a wetting through taking me in the chair.

Gertrude gave me a very warm welcome, and a fine lunch of sausages and mashed potatoes, with a steamed pudding and custard to follow. The afternoon passed all too quickly, and the car came for me at five o'clock. I stopped to see Auntie Flo, who was up for a few hours, not looking too well and feeling very weak. Mrs Pearce had come in to see me too, and they thought I was so brave to come in such bad weather, but I am none the worse for it.

Father was very pleased to have me home again as he had not been feeling at all well. He has gone to town today, and always brings me some library books and plenty of news, mostly rumours, but yesterday there was very disquieting news.

All the senior officers, Regular Army, have been called up to be taken to Germany, and probably all " Freemasons ". I am afraid there is a bad time ahead of us, as they seem to be tightening things up, now that the war is going against them. There has been a great number of letters received from the deportees "which are very pitiful to read - many are ill and all almost starving - in fact they seem to be no better off than the Russian prisoners here. It has cast a terrible gloom all over the island, especially as they say the rest of the English-born people will be taken next.

Yesterday an American bomber flew right over the town, and all the big guns let go at it, but did not hit it. I will wait now and see what news Father brings back from town.

The American bomber that came over strewed mines all round the Harbour, so now no boats can get out till they are all cleared away, and they will not be able to send away any deportees.

February 7

Nothing much has happened lately until last week.

When we got up on Friday morning we found that thieves had visited us, not in the house fortunately, but in the sheds which were locked, but they managed to get in, and simply ransacked the place. We had a lot of trunks packed with pictures, china and curtains, also a lot of dried beans, which form a great part of our diet as there is so little else.

All our seeds for sowing had gone which we had so carefully saved. My velvet curtains had gone, and lots of china and pictures broken. They seem to look mostly for food and clothing and tip everything out on the floor; you never saw such a mess. There isn't a house round here that hasn't been burgled; all the evacuated houses have been stripped, and this house would have been the same if we had not been here. It has made me feel very nervous, as I fear they may get into the house, and if Father heard them and got up, they would probably attack him. One cannot get help, and no one is allowed out after curfew, which is nine o'clock now.

We hear that about fifty men are being sent to Germany this week, mostly people who are in the Germans' bad books. As the news gets better, the more they retaliate on us. Lots of farmers take their seed potatoes up to their bedrooms at night, also their food and valuables, and lock themselves in.

Last week Dulcie and Ada came to see us and told us about a German ill-treating a Russian who was using a spade at the time, and he turned and hit the German such a blow that it cut off his head - another German guard came up . and he too got his head cut off. Then the Germans arrested forty Russians, hung them up and shot them.

Several people still have their wireless sets and listen into the news, and some are caught, but only when someone gives them away. Jennifer's form mistress has been arrested and imprisoned for spreading the news, but I do not know for how long. Anyway she will now be on the "black list ".

It was Nigel's birthday last week, and I am sure he is a fine little fellow- Violet Beep has had a message from Kathleen giving the date of baby's birth, and his name. We are very amused that she has called him "Eric Houguet " as that makes three " Erics " and three "Kathleens ". There has been such a lot of letters come in, but we haven't had any, and I am now anxious to hear from Peggy, and if her baby has arrived yet. I do hope it's not a false report, as we have not heard of it from any of the family.

February 14

Dear Emmie's birthday today, and I am wishing her many more happier days - how I miss her and long for her return.

It is also Doreen's Philip's birthday, and our loving thoughts go out to them all, hoping it will not be long before we see them.

I do hope they are getting on well in their new home, but perhaps Ray has had to join up. Dulcie has had a letter from Olive who says Dick has not to go abroad again, which we are very glad to hear, and that the children are still with Essie. I should like to hear from Essie.

February 22

Last week Major Ogier's son Dick was arrested by the Germans. It appears he got talking to someone and showed them a map of the Island on which he had marked all the big gun emplacements. It was reported and he was arrested as a Spy and is liable to be shot. His Father went to the Commandant and told him the boy was "mentally deficient ". The reply to that was, the Father was responsible, and he also was arrested, and now they have both been sent to Paris for trial.

Jennifer's form mistress and Mother have got ten months' Imprisonment, and the Father twelve months.

Quite a number of people have lately been sent to Germany, and I'm sorry to say Harold Poole is one of them. It makes one very anxious, as one never knows who will be the next to go.

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