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 12
March 9, 1943
Jim and Harold came out to lunch today, and we had such a nice time together. Harold sang to us and it was a treat to hear him. Father had killed a rabbit and cooked it beautifully - and I made a Queen of puddings which was also much appreciated.
This is my dear John's 23rd birthday, and how I have thought of him all day, with very loving wishes and anxious thoughts for his safety. It is almost a year since we heard from him, and I am longing to have a message from him again, and to know he is still in England, for I dread the thought of him being sent overseas.
It has been such a lovely spring day, and I. have been out in my wheel chair, and called to see Miss Nicholson, who is ill. She has been so sweet in visiting me, although she is 83, and it's quite a long walk for one of that age.
Auntie Annie is coming to lunch tomorrow. She has not been here since before Christmas, as it has been such a wet winter, and she has had to keep in a lot.
My 72nd birthday, and such a lovely day, I have had lots of telephone wishes and several nice presents. Dulcie and the children came this afternoon and brought no end of presents, flowers, eggs, asparagus, cake, pudding and fudge, all most acceptable. Father gave me a bottle of cordial, and I had one from Percy and Queenie. Jim gave me a pretty sleeping cap, and Gertrude a gold flexible bracelet. Our maid also brought me some eggs.
Auntie Flo was not able to come as she sprained her ankle, but hopes to come at Easter, as they are all going to stay at Holmhurst for Easter. Gertrude came to lunch today.
I am so pleased to hear from Emmie today with a message from Kathleen and Peggy to say they each have a son, Eric Houguet Poole and Thomas Christopher Beales. We had heard from Kathleen about her baby, and were so sorry to hear he was delicate.
We had also heard a rumour. of Peggy's expecting, but thought it must be false as she had said nothing about it, and I was so very disappointed, so you can imagine how delighted I am that she has at last got a son, and I am so pleased with the name. She has kept it very quiet, as I have not heard from her since last October.
April, Easter Sunday
Such a lovely day, just like summer. I have been to St Brelade's Church this evening, as Father had taken his Choir there for an Easter Festival; it was very lovely, and I did enjoy it all. Beryl took me in my Chair as Father had to cycle to be early -the church was packed and the singing was lovely.
Sitting there in the old church brought back memories and made me sad; Laddie and Dilys were married there, also my dear Babbo.
The German Cemetery is quite a feature of St Brelade's and is most beautifully laid out, and such a number of graves there, all planted with pansies. Several more ships have been sunk round the coast lately, three yesterday, so I expect there will by many bodies washed up.
On Easter Monday Father and I were invited to a van picnic by Percy and Queenie, at Brown's Cafe, St Brelade's. Unfortunately Father was not well enough to go he had a bad gastric attack which got worse, so sent for Doctor on Tuesday morning, and now he has to stay in bed several days and take nothing but milk and water, and we are allowed a pint of extra milk a day, also a little rice.
Dulcie as usual came to the rescue and brought half a dozen eggs and other things, so I am able to carry on for myself for a time, and Jim is coming on Friday. It was a lovely picnic, and we had a fine lunch when we got there, and a good tea later on.
Lorna Macintosh was there with her Mother; she has just become engaged to John Dupre (Percy's boy). He proposed by Red Cross Message, to which she replied and accepted. John also wrote to his Father asking him to buy a ring, which he did, and what a beauty it is ! They are all very pleased and like her very much. We have just heard that Miss Elsie Morley died yesterday, also Mr Arthur Balleine. The old Rector died last year, so now the Rectory is empty.
There has been nothing much to relate recently, except that Father's illness lasted quite a long time, and though he is better, he still -feels very weak and gets terribly tired. He was able to resume his duties at Church last Sunday, but the walk back up the hill tires him very much. The trouble is, one cannot get enough food to strengthen him; we have to be so careful with the bread and there are no vegetables until the new ones come in.
We were so pleased to receive a message from Peggy last week, telling us about her little son. I am longing to hear from John; it seems so strange we have heard nothing from him for over a year.
It is the anniversary of our darling Babbo's death today, and brings back all the sadness of a year ago. She is always in my thoughts, and I am wondering what happened to take her off so suddenly, for she could not have been too bad to be able to take the journey with the intention of taking the " Baths ". I was glad to hear from Essie that Babbo did not know she was going to die, for I know how it would have distressed her to know she was leaving her children.