Tuesday, 7 April 2015

An Occupation Diary – Part 5

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 it.

An Occupation Diary – Part 5

March 15, 1941

Such a lot of people we know are getting awfully thin and worried looking, and very soon there will be many more out of work. All the little shops have 'closed down and the bigger ones only open three days a week. Most people cannot get enough bread, and vegetables are so dear to buy -we are lucky to grow our own and almost live on them. I don't know what will happen if this war goes on another winter. There would have been plenty of food in the island if the Germans hadn't taken so much away and so many of them living here.

The latest thing is that they have taken all the lorries, besides private cars. Auntie Emmie's car is still here, as I told them it was a 1933, and they only wanted newer ones, but they may come yet and take the tyres.

Some time ago a party of young Frenchmen escaped from France in a little boat and landed on Guernsey, thinking it was the Isle of Wight - they were captured and made prisoners and brought over here and some sent to Guernsey. The ring-leader was tried here in the Royal Court by Germans, found guilty and taken out to St Ouen's in a lorry with four guards and his coffin, and then shot.

There has been such a lot of talk about it that the Commandant has issued an order, if anyone is heard they will be dealt with the same way.

Seven hundred more troops have come over and are going to the Camp at Portelet, and are going to make a concrete road through the grounds of Noirmont Manor and build a fortress at the Point. They often stop and lean on the gate to look at the garden and I'm always glad when they move on.

There are such a lot of flowers out here, especially violets, and there have been some lovely sunny days when I have been able to get out and pick some, but it's turned cold again.

March 30

Sunday afternoon and Father has just gone to Church - I was looking out of the window when three German soldiers stopped and leaned on the gate, then opened it and came in, swaggered up the drive and sat down on the rockery while the other two took a snap of him in several positions --they all looked very hard at me, but I stared them out and was just boiling with rage and would like to have ordered them off - Father would have, like a shot.

We have been told that Germans have been hanging around our house. a lot, so Father went out to look, but everything was quite all right. All the same, I feel anxious about it. Yesterday I saw four of those six-inch guns pass here. They were twenty or thirty feet long and looked very formidable. They have pinched them from the French and are setting them up on the coast near Corbière - in case any British ships come anywhere near, and a lot of Artillery has come too. One of the guns has been set up on our headland at Petit Port, so it's just as well as we are not there.

June 10

Back at Ipsilanti and have not been well - had to stay in bed about ten days as I had got over-tired with all my gadding about, but am better again. Father took me out yesterday as we have had a bathchair tent for the summer - it will be so nice to be able to get about a bit.

Auntie Emmie's car number was called up this week and it was taken away yesterday - I felt so sad seeing it go, thinking of all the lovely drives I have had in it and of how upset Emmie would be having to hand it over to the Germans - it was in such beautiful condition too.

However, to my joy and great surprise it was returned today, having been rejected as too old. I am so glad, and Emmie will be one of a few to own a car after the war.

Last week I had the pleasure of receiving a Red Cross letter from Emmie and was delighted to hear they were all well and together, somewhere in Devonshire we presume.

July 25

It's quite a long time since I wrote as my fingers are so stiff, it's difficult to hold a pencil, also very difficult to feed myself - I am getting so much thinner too, there will be nothing left of me by the time I see you again. It all makes me think of my dear Babbo and hoping she is in better state than I am, but she is young and more hope of recovery for her.

A lot of birthdays have passed since I wrote and we thought and spoke of you all those days with very loving wishes.

That which I have been dreading for some time, has happened. The Germans broke into “Moorings" two weeks ago. The Le Neveus rang up and told us late one night, so Father got a lorry and went there next morning and as the Germans were out, he got all the coal which we had left, also my couch and three easy chairs and brought them here. The Le Neveus were so good and worked all day, dragging out the mattresses and anything they could carry to their house.

In the meantime, Dulcie and Dorothy had arrived and worked like blacks all day, taking all they could, and managed to get hold of a man with a lorry to bring it here and we have stored all we could in Rosemary's room and the shed. We were very lucky to get so much away while the Germans were out, as they would have prevented our taking anything away. They are allowed to take anything they like from empty houses and all who have the keys of empty houses are ordered to give up all mattresses or be heavily fined.

There are between four and five thousand soldiers here now and they have to find accommodation for them. Every house at Corbière is occupied now and the place is swarming with them - I am glad we are not there. After the Germans came there was a lot of unemployment, so the States put them on roads, repairing and widening, also on our headland making a twelve-foot road all round, for pedestrians only - now they are widening Petit Port road and making it a two-way traffic, which we don't like at all, especially as they are taking fourteen feet of our garden, and no compensation for us - I dread to think of what the place will be like when we go back after the war.

No comments: