Wednesday, 15 April 2015

An Occupation Diary – Part 8

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 8

June 12, 1942

A little time ago, an order came out that all the Wireless sets were to be given up by the 20th and in the meantime some foolish persons sent out leaflets telling people not to give up their sets, which of course upset our friends and they promptly arrested ten prominent Jerseymen, Harold Giffard being one and Tony Huelin another. We are particularly sorry for these two, as Giffard had such a long stretch of prison a year ago and is in very poor health. Tony's wife is expecting a baby any day and it must be awful for her. They are all in ordinary cells and no one allowed to see them.

Unless the culprits confess before the 30th, these ten men will be sent to concentration camps in France or Germany.

Everyone was very sad at giving up their sets, and we shall never see them again. It is so awful not to know what is going on, especially as the news was not too good last week. We hear that some people have kept hidden very small sets and are listening in to the midnight news, so we may hear scraps sometimes - but it may also get the whole Island into serious trouble.

July 19

Uncle Wilfred has taken great interest in my Diary, and has had it typed and bound, up to June 12th. It is awfully good of him, and I am so pleased with it - as I shall now be able to send it to you when the War is over. My writing is so bad now that you would scarcely be able to read it otherwise.

This is the second instalment, and I will continue from where I left off - as I was not able to write much at Pontac, owing to all my gadding about!

My first visit was to Maryland - where Gertrude and Wilfred are living. It is such a lovely place -the garden a mass or roses - not forgetting the lovely view. We had a fine lunch in the lounge hall, and tea in the drawing room, which is a charming room, and Gertrude had arranged so beautifully. They were both so sweet to me, and I did enjoy myself. Wilfred had fetched me in the chair, and took me home again.

There has been a fear of smallpox in the Island - owing to there being such a fearful crowd of foreigners here whom the Germans had brought over for labour - and so the public were advised to be vaccinated - many people were quite ill after it. Poor little Jennifer had a bad time and was in bed several days. Nancy was quite all right, and Dulcie did not "take" at all and was done again, which still did not take.

I had a lovely day with Jim at The Little White House. She had a tin of tongue for lunch, which was a great luxury these hard times - also a bottle of wine. Everyone was so generous in bringing out their treasured stores, and I felt so honoured to be made so welcome.

On Sunday evening Nancy took me to see Gerti Cole at Fauvic - it was such a lovely walk as she took me through the lanes, and actually ran with me all down Fauvic Hill people did stare. On our way back we called to see Doris and Phil in their lovely home at La Rocque. They too had invested in a goat, and were almost as thrilled as if it were a baby.

The last Sunday I went to St Clement's Church. Dulcie cycled as we were rather late, and Jennifer took me in the chair and ran all the way. I saw quite a number of old friends there - Mr Blampied and Auntie Rose and others. After lunch Dulcie took me to see Mrs Le Quesne and we had tea in their beautiful garden. Everyone said how well I looked and that I walked so much better than I did last year. The next day I had a car to bring me home, and Gertrude had asked me to stop at the gate and say goodbye - she was there with a dainty little tea on a tray, wasn't it sweet of her!

My next stop was at Black Rock, where Mrs Pearce and Auntie Flo were waiting to say goodbye and give me a beautiful bouquet of carnations.

July 28

Father took me to Church on Sunday evening and we went through our favourite walk, the old railway line, which is very lovely. It was a "Musical Service" and very good too. We brought the -Rev Balleine back with us to dinner, and he helped push me up the hill. We had a very nice meal of tinned salmon, salad, tomatoes and potatoes, and a milk mould and jam to follow. Dulcie and the children came out on Tuesday and brought their lunch with them, and then set off for a long ride through St Brelade's and on to Corbière, to see all the changes the Germans have made - their huge camps, railways and tunnels.

On Wednesday all the tanks passed here on their way to St Brelade's for manoeuvres, they looked terrible, and made such a noise.

August 2

I forgot to tell you that our nice maid got married at Easter, and I went to St Brelade's Church to see the wedding.

We were very fortunate in getting another girl, though much younger (only fifteen) but quite as good, and so nice. She lives quite near here, so I am able to get her for an afternoon occasionally, and she takes me out in my chair.

Last Friday she took me to Petit Port and we called to see Mrs Le Neveu. I was very shocked to hear that the Germans had taken Mrs Hedges' bungalow right away - there were six rooms, and nothing left but the chimney - all the furniture wrecked or stolen. Donaldson's bungalow has suffered the same fate, and several others.

It is Babbo's birthday today, and I am longing to hear from her again --- and thinking so much about her, hoping she has had my letter by now.

As you know, I cannot do any sewing at all, and so Daisy comes fairly often and does all the mending and renovating, generally the days Father goes to town, and I am so glad to have her company. She is such a dear little soul, and seems to love coming. Dulcie and Ada carne yesterday and told us they had not been able to get as far as Corbière the other day, as the Germans were firing across the road, and turned them back.

Just after lunch today we saw a terribly sad sight. Quite a thousand Russian prisoners passed on their way to a camp at La Moye, having walked all the way from the pier, they looked terribly ragged, dirty and almost fainting, and holding each other up. It was really heart-breaking to see them. Father and I went to the gate to see them pass, and Father said to one "Russia?" He answered "Ukraine". 1 felt so distressed for them, and thought of how bravely they had fought for us.

Ever since the raid on Exeter I have felt very anxious about Emmie, Ruth and Rosemary, and longing to hear they are safe. I had a message today from Emmie, but it was sent 26th March, before the raid, so I am still feeling very anxious.

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