Wednesday, 8 April 2015

An Occupation Diary – Part 6

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 6

August 2, 1941

My dear Babbo's birthday today and our loving wishes go out to her wherever she is. Last Sunday, Father took me to Church in the evening, as it was a special service - I went in my wheelchair, which he took right into Church and I sat in it all the time. It was such a treat to hear him playing the organ again and I did enjoy it all. Coming back, we came along the old railway line, which is really beautiful now.

I am sure you will all be very sorry to hear we have lost our dear little Sandy - we think he must have been poisoned, as he was only ill such a short time. We have felt it very much, for he was such a sweet cat and I know how very sorry John will be.

The other night, as I was just going to bed, there was a terrific explosion which shook the house and made all the windows rattle - the next day we heard that a British plane had come over and was fired on by the Germans but fortunately did not hit it.

Food is very scarce now and we are living practically on French beans and potatoes - there is no flour to be had and people are making it out of potatoes, which is very good, but a trouble to make.

We are bartering some beans for flour. People are also making coffee out of parsnips Dulcie makes a lot as they drink mostly coffee and she is going to let us have two of their rations of tea.

We only get two ounces of tea a week between us and are only able to make tea once a day and then pour boiling water on the old tea leaves for the next meal. Very soon there will be no tea at all. There has been no cocoa for months and I don't know what Auntie Emmie would do if she were here, as she drinks nothing else.

September 2

I have just returned from a week's holiday at Holmehurst. Flo, Percy and Dorothy were there as well and it was so lovely to be all together again. I had not seen Flo for three months and was shocked to see the change in her, she had lost 2 1/2 stones since I last saw her, and has not been at aII well

Percy and Queenie were wonderfully kind and couldn't do enough for us - they gave us such beautiful meals, which we all enjoyed so much, after the light diet we get now-a-days. Both Flo and I feel so much better for the change and good food.

As usual, Dorothy was most kind in helping me to dress and do my hair. She also borrowed a wheelchair and took me to see Auntie Annie one day. Another day she took me to Gaudins to meet Gertrude and Jim, Flo came too and we were all so pleased to meet again.

We had to take our own food, as Gaudins only provide a cup of tea for each person.

I haven't told you about the nice girl we have had for the last seven months. She comes at nine till twelve every day, gets my breakfast ready and when I get up about eleven, she helps me dress and do my hair. I have also the District Nurse to come and bath me twice a week, which is very nice.

Oh ! I must tell you how I made the journey to Holmehurst - Percy sent one of his smaller empty vans and put an armchair in it. I sat in the chair and Father and the driver lifted me right in. It was so comfortable and quick and they lifted me straight into the house, where I had such a welcome. Father stayed for dinner, and again on Sunday. I came back the same way. Everyone is so good to me, far more than I deserve.

September 6

Our dear Doreen's birthday today and we send her our loving wishes, with the hope that we shall soon all meet again. This long parting from her is very hard to bear and I fear sometimes I shall never see her again - but that is only sometimes, when I feel rather downhearted. Michael had his birthday the end of July and must be fifteen now, and am sure is a very dear boy. He has such a lovely expression I wonder if he is still at school.

Still no letters come for us and there have been thousands come to Jersey just lately. Some people get such a lot and others get none. Val has had over thirty from his wife and Auntie Gertrude a lot from Derek. I do so long to hear from John, as we have had none from hint yet and I'm always dreading he may be sent overseas. We should like to hear of Dick, too.

September 9

The 46th anniversary of our wedding day and to my great joy I had a Red Cross letter from dear Emmie. It was lovely to hear from her again and that she is pleased we are living in her house. There are a nice lot of apples in the garden, but cannot make any jam as we have no sugar, only getting 6 ozs. a week.

September 22

Father's birthday today and such a lovely day that we thought we would like to celebrate. So we set off in my "chair" to Portelet, as we had heard there was a cafe where they gave a light lunch, and it was quite good. stuffed marrow, cabbage and potatoes, and a little rice mould. There were lots of Germans about, but we don't take any notice of them now. A lot went away lately and two thousand more came.

We heard that the Germans had left Moorings and so I determined to go there one day and have a look round. Adele, our maid, took me in the chair and as I had the key, we went in. The house was rather in a mess. All the cupboards and drawers out on to the floor and locks broken and several things missing. Only one bed there and, worst of all, they had taken my lovely oak gate-legged table.

I should like to move all the furniture, but am afraid, as there was an order that no one must move any, and one might be imprisoned for doing so.

The house is sure to be occupied again, and there would be trouble if the furniture was gone.

October 17

Since I last wrote I have been to Moorings again, and spent a day there, and as there were no Germans about, we decided to move everything except the very big pieces, like the dresser, and the next day got it all away by a horse and van. We brought a lot here and the rest at Adele's home where they have an empty room - I feel so relieved and so far nothing has been said - and if they want to occupy it again, will simply take what they want from some other house.

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