Wednesday, 29 April 2015

An Occupation Diary – Part 13

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 13
July 18, 1943

I have not felt like writing in my diary all this time, but must try and remember what has happened in the interval.

At last we know where Kathleen is with her little family. Violet Beer had a letter from her brother Harold who was deported to Germany and he had a letter from Kathleen, giving her address, which was in Hereford. We always thought she was in Scotland. Now I know, I shall be able to write to her. How she must miss Eric, who is in India and soon getting his third pip.

Major Ogier was released some time ago and allowed to return home, but his son was detained and is under observation as an interesting case. But last week a dozen people were arrested and sent to Germany, - Major Ogier was one of them.

I had a letter from "Daisy Coy" last week in reply to one from me. She said it was a lovely place they were in, and that her health was much better. She is in a large room with thirty other women, and she spends most of her time sewing for herself and others. Their food is very little and poor -but they get good parcels from the "Red Cross". What an awful life it must be, with no comforts, and herded together like that.

Some time ago we were told that the Germans had done a lot of damage to "Moorings", so 1 went there to see, and was appalled at what had been done.

We had an oil container in the shed, and it had been taken into the kitchen and filled with explosive and set alight. The "cook-and-heat" stove was smashed to atoms, the chimney hanging into the lounge, all the windows blown out, huge holes in the floor and ceiling, and debris all over the place. All the doors have been taken away, and also every bit of woodwork in the place. The bath is gone and everything taken from the bathroom. You can imagine how awful I felt to see our poor little Moorings in such a state, and we don't know if we shall get any compensation or not when the war is over.

It's terrible to see all the houses that have been wrecked, and what the people will do when they come back and find their homes gone, I really cannot think. There is nothing but the chimney left at Hedges' bungalow.

The Misses Staniforth have had to leave their house, which was their own property, as the Germans said it was in their way, and they have knocked it down. In fact, there is no end to the destruction done. Black Market prices continue to soar; tea is now £20 per lb., meat 15/- per lb, butter 25/- to 30/- per Ib.,' vegetables are very scarce, and what the Germans don't take people keep for themselves, and by ten o' clock the shops are empty. We are fortunate in having Emmie's garden, and are growing a lot of beans and onions for the winter. Sugar is 16/- per lb.

We have made some new friends this spring, Major and Mrs Tennant, who called to see us and brought some nice books for us to read. We returned the call, and now we are quite neighbourly. We were also invited to Dr Stapleton's house to tea, and they came here the following week.

Also, through Jim, we have been to a Miss Arm's, who has a very nice house at the top of St Aubin's Hill, overlooking the bay. I told you about Mrs Deverell Walker being turned out of her house on the Park Estate - well she took another at First Tower and after a few weeks she was turned out of that, and now she is living at the Wesleyan Parsonage.

August 10

I came here a week ago, and am staying another week. I have every day taken up for lunch and tea, until I leave here. Last Thursday I spent the day at Maryland with Gertrude and Wilfrid, and had such a nice time with them. Friday, Auntie Flo was to have come to tea, but the weather was bad, so Nancy and Jennifer invited me to tea in the nursery, and we had quite a merry time. In the evening Jennifer took me out in my chair through the lanes. The fields look so lovely with all the oats and wheat which is grown now in place of the tomatoes we used to see.

On Saturday I went to Cape House to tea, but it does not look as nice as when we lived there. Sunday we all went to Percy Maine's to tea, and had a lot of community singing. On Monday I went to Mrs Le Quesne's for lunch, in the afternoon Nancy took me to La Rocque for tea at Doris de Faye's.

The weather has been rather bad so far, and this morning it poured. I was going to Auntie Flo's for lunch, so Dulcie packed me up well in mackintosh, capes, rugs and umbrella, and I arrived perfectly dry.

August 16

I have been out so much that there seemed no time for writing my diary. I spent a very happy day at "The Little White House" last Wednesday: Flo was there as well, but unfortunately she missed the last bus and was obliged to walk home. Harold brought me back. On Thursday Dulcie took me to Mrs Bailhache's. It was a perfect day and we had tea in the garden, and what a tea; I haven't seen the like since the occupation. It was Mrs Bailhache's birthday. and she had quite a party, Mr Blampied and Auntie Rose were there, and several other old friends.

On Friday I went to Les Genets to tea, but it was very wet, so could not go round the garden. Eileen is expecting a little one in October, and everyone is so anxious that everything should be all right this time, and she is being very careful and not building on it too much.

I have not mentioned the railway which the Germans have remade all along the coast, and in many places crossing the main roads. They actually ran it through the Willcox's garden, and cut down trees to make way for it.

Dulcie is taking me to see Elsie Le Blancq this afternoon. She is living at Grouville now, having sold her house in town, and has just become engaged to a Mr Herbert Labey. i will tell you all about it on our return;

Later:. We have had a lovely afternoon with Elsie, and congratulated her on her engagement, but did not see Mr Labey. Elsie lives in a charming old-fashioned house which is furnished with beautiful things from her old home.

This evening I have been sitting outside watching a lovely high tide. and a lot of children bathing. Then we saw a convoy of ships, escorted by balloon barrage, crossing the bay and taking away troops from here to Russia.

I am returning home to-morrow, and so ends a delightful little holiday.

August 27

I have been home a week now, and quite settled down to our usual quiet life. Father was very glad to have me back again, as I think he had been bored and lonely.

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