Thursday, 9 April 2015

An Occupation Diary – Part 7

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 7
October 27, 1941

We hear now that the Germans are in our house again and have camouflaged it by painting it green and yellow.

The Weeks have had to turn out of their house, also old Mrs Le Brocq - there is supposed to be fifteen thousand troops coming soon, so that almost every house will be occupied - they have even taken Victoria College and the boys have to go to Halkett Place School.

Last Thursday night we were nearly blown out of bed by explosions - a British plane came over and dropped a lot of bombs, but no one was hurt, though several houses were wrecked. The Germans' firing on it was terrific and shook the house terribly - I was glad when it was over, but the plane got safely away.

Last week a lot of foolish people painted a huge lot of V's in the Square and other places, so for reprisal those districts have to give up their radio sets and the men to do patrol duty every night -it's too bad that so many innocent people should have to suffer for the folly of a few others.

December 29

Once again Xmas has come and gone. Father and I were quite alone and were quite happy listening to the wireless - King's speech and Christmas Carols- Father had to go to Church in the morning, so we had our dinner at night. A lovely chicken which Mrs Le Neveu had given us and Father cooked it beautifully with the etcs; for dessert we had fruit salad, nuts and cherry brandy - the brandy was a present from Percy Dupre -no Christmas pudding, but Dulcie made us a Christmas cake. She had also given us a big boiling fowl two weeks ago, and a lovely roasting one the Sunday before Christmas, so we invited the Rev. G. Balleine to dinner that evening and we all enjoyed it immensely,

Of course, we spoke of you all and wondered where you all were, hoping you were having a happy time, and that John was on leave and able to spend it with some of you.

March 20, 1942

Such a long time since I wrote, as I find it more difficult than ever, but my general health is much better and they all say how well I look, but of course I have not been able to go out at all as it's been so cold, but getting much warmer now and the flowers are coming out in the garden.

There has been a lot of "Black Market" and people have paid five and six shillings a pound for meat and twenty shillings a pound for sugar - but that is being stopped now.

Our meat bill for the week is only 1/9. Some days we only have soup for lunch and porridge for our evening meal and we are always hungry, especially Father.

I told you about Victoria College being taken over by the Germans, and some time ago they took the Girls College and the girls had to go to Coie Hall, much to their disgust.

A Tank Corps has lately come over and the other day I saw eight huge tanks pass here, they looked terrible and made a fearful noise.

The RAF often pass over here at night, to bomb France, and then the big guns all over the, Island start shooting - the noise is terrific, the house shakes and all doors and windows rattle - I don't like it at all, as it often gives me palpitation and if I am alone I get very nervous. Last night they started at twelve and went on till after three and I scarcely slept at all, and feel rather a wreck today. I am feeling rather nervous about this house too, as several families have been turned out of their homes, with only forty-eight hours' notice.

The Germans have done such a lot of damage to Moorings - they have even taken away the bath, taken away the shelves and stuck their daggers through the doors, and had started to break up the furniture till we got it away.

Most people have suffered terribly with the cold this winter, as there is no coal - wood is rationed and hardly anyone can light a fire till tea time. Gertrude and Jim say they have never felt so cold in their lives and have had terrible chilblains. We have been most lucky as Auntie and I both had got in a good stock before the Occupation, though I don't know what we shall do next winter if the war continues - we are only allowed a small ration of gas, and so have to do a lot of cooking on the lounge fire.

We have had to live mostly on vegetables and been lucky to have this garden, but now we cannot get the seed for this year's growth and is a very poor look-out.

The tea ration was finished about six months ago and people are making it with either carrot or beetroot. We are lucky as Auntie Annie gave us some at Christmas and Leslie has lately sent a three-pound tin.

April 3

My 71st birthday and such a happy day - everyone so good to me. Auntie Flo could not come as the buses are so difficult now, but Dorothy cycled out and brought some lovely jelly, also Dulcie and the children with presents of various food stuffs. The Cradwicks came yesterday and brought home-made marmalade - Father gave me a bottle of cherry brandy.


Craig Williams said...

Hi, will you be publishing any more of this excerpts as I am thoroughly enjoying reading about life during the occupation

TonyTheProf said...

Yes I will be posting at least 3 more entries this week on the Occupation diaries.