Thursday, 2 April 2015

An Occupation Diary – Part 2

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.

The Pilot at that time was facing major financial problems, and printing this diary helped to win back readers.

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 2

August 2 1940

My dear Babbo's birthday today - Father and I send our loving thoughts across the sea to you dear and best wishes for many happy returns of the day.

We had quite a bit of excitement the other day. Several planes suddenly appeared over the house and a real fight was going on just in front of us on the sea and quite close. The firing was terrific for a short time until they chased each other out of sight. The Germans said they were only practising - but we think some were R.A.F. and there are some over here, at night especially.

One of the laws is that no one must be out after ten at night, or before 5 a.m. and the blackout is strictly kept.

We are having perfect weather and everything looks so lovely that one cannot realize there is a war on - and we wish so much that you had all been able to stay here. We hear of Air Raids over England every night, and wonder if you have to be dodging in and out of `Shelters'. I do hope not, for it must be trying for the nerves.

When the Germans came, it so happened that there were a lot of Service men here on leave and they couldn't get away - they were all rounded up and put into the concentration camp, where the Germans and Italians had been - then last week they were all sent to France or Germany. Two of the men resisted and were shot, but not killed.

August 7

Last Sunday was a perfect summer's day, but Monday, August Bank Holiday, was very disappointing a thick fog all the morning and very little sunshine all day. There were extra buses that day, so Flo and Percy came out to tea; we were so glad to see them again and hear all the news. They told us that no one was allowed on the beach or any low water fishing or fishing boats. You can imagine what a disappointment that must have been to so many who had planned differently.

There were all sorts or rumours going round, one that the Germans were expecting an attack from the R.A.F.; another, that they were afraid people might escape in the fog by boat. We know now it was because a fisherman was taking up his net and found the bodies of two dead Germans in it. It seems there have been several planes brought down and lots of dead bodies washed up. Planes have been flying very low on the beach today looking for them and I hope none will be washed up about here.

There was a continual stream of planes arriving yesterday and are supposed to have brought a thousand troops over. It is quite thrilling to sit in the garden and watch them.

August 8

This afternoon, Dulcie and Dorothy cycled out and we sat on the terrace and had tea, during which a great lot of planes passed over us, about 45- The next. day we were sitting there again and for a couple of hours we heard bombs dropping the other side of Guernsey and thought that something must be happening over there - the next day we heard that the Guernsey Air Port had been wiped out by the R.A.F. and a lot of Germans killed. So now we are expecting any day for ours to suffer the same fate and wonder if we shall feel anything of it here.

The Germans here seem to be very nervous, expecting an attack any day, and are keeping their planes on the move a great deal, they circle round and round here, forty or more at a time, and we spend most of our time watching them. At night, too, I lie in bed and see them darting about in the sky like a lot of falling stars and the search-lights are very pretty to watch.

September 4

Nothing much has happened since I last wrote but the weather remains lovely, very hot, but not too hot for me - I sit in the sun most of the day and am feeling much better for it.

The buses are getting fewer and fewer, and it’s also getting more difficult for us to continue living out here and will be worse in the winter and so we have decided to go and live at Auntie Emmie’s house, for the winter at least.

Father would not be able to get to Church as now no lights are allowed on cycles and from Eminie's he will be able to walk, it also will easier be for our supplies, and I hope too that we shall get a few more visitors, as I think there will still be a few buses to St Aubin's.

I shall be very sorry to leave here for many things and shall miss the view very much, also I. feel rather anxious about shutting up the house - there have been such a lot of robberies in houses that are shut up - but Mr Weeks has promised to keep an eye on it.

September 8

I am feeling very down today, after hearing on the wireless of the awful air raid on London last night, and am so afraid that some of you may still be in or near London and I hope and pray that you are all safe. I think constantly of how awful if must be, having to get up in the night so often to go into the shelters, especially with the children, and my poor Babbo too. Your nerves must be shattered with it all.

Everything is very quiet here and life goes on much the same - but of course business is very bad and the shops will soon have sold all their stocks. We may be able to get supplies from France later on, but everything will be very tight

I hear there are over a thousand German troops in Jersey, but we seldom see any about here, though something unpleasant happened a week ago at the `Light House' during the night. Soldiers went there and took away the two Keepers who were on duty and left two there who ransacked the place and took all their papers and lamps etc. as they suspected there had been some signalling going on. The Keepers were taken to the Air Port and questioned for hours and did not let them go till the following night, and no one knew where they were.

Nearly every night we hear an R.A.F. plane go over and immediately the search-light sweeps the sky and the bay - I see it all from my bed and Father sits outside till all hours watching it all. It is very exciting as they are expecting the Air Port to be bombed any night now. All the people living within 1 1/2 miles of the Air Port have been ordered to evacuate at once I think we are just outside that radius.

September 12

This morning we saw a convoy of twelve large boats - French liners, Father says, and this afternoon there has been a similar lot - all on their way to try and invade England. We heard Mr Churchill's speech last night and my heart sinks to think of the awful ordeal which our country will soon have to face. It does not seem possible that we are living in such times and when I think of so many of our dear ones in the midst of it all, I feel frantic with anxiety. If only I knew you were all in some safe place.

The weather has turned quite cold and we have a fire today, as my pains have been very bad all the week. I am trying to do a little bit of sorting out and packing, ready for our move on the 28, and shall be quite glad to get to Emmie's sunny house for the winter.

No comments: