Monday, 4 May 2015

An Occupation Diary – Part 14

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.

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 14

August 28, 1943

News has been received in the Island that Major Ogier had died in Germany. He had been taken there for the second time a short while ago, and put into a concentration camp, and there he died.

Previous to that he had been in prison for some months, and altogether had a ghastly time. Dick, his son, is still in German hands under observation, and there is some talk of performing an operation on his brain.

Violet Beer rang up the other day to say she had just received a letter from her brother Harold in Germany, who had received one from Kathleen. She was in Exeter with the four children and staying with Auntie Emmie. I was so pleased and thought how good of Auntie to have so many but it's just like her, always giving and helping others.

I loved hearing about the children, too, and that baby Eric has got over his infant delicacy and is such a lovely perfect baby. We were thankful to hear Eric had recovered from his bad attack of fever.

Yesterday we had the joy of receiving a Red Cross Letter from Doreen; it had taken seven months to come, and she said she had not heard from us at all. I sent her a letter a year ago, and hope she has received it by now.

We are all cheered with the good news from the front, and hope the end is in sight, for we are getting very weary and faint for lack of good food. People who can afford to, buy in the black market and so keep up their strength, but we cannot afford it.

Butter is now 30/- to 35/- lb., pork 20/., eggs 2/- each. Dulcie has been so good in giving us some every week, it is such a help. Our tea was finished ages ago, so now we drink weak coffee substitute as we do not like the tea substitute. The Germans took all our silver money soon after they came, and. gave us German Reichmarks, all paper notes.

I found them such a nuisance at first, and used to get terribly tied up with them, but now I'm quite used to them. Fortunately we had a little money in the Bank, as of course we are not getting our usual supply.

I am feeling so worried about John, as we have had only one letter from him. It seems so strange that no one says where he is, and that he does not write.

It's a long time too since we heard from Peggy, and I'm longing to hear news of little Christopher.

November 4

We had three Red Cross Letters, one from Auntie Emmie telling us of all the visiting she has done - I feel very envious of her seeing all my children, but glad for her sake that she is so well and able to get about. I also had one from Kathleen Dickens with a good report of you all and a specially nice one from Peggy saying she had spent a week with Kathleen, also a week in London, and that Christopher weighs 20 lbs. at eight months. We have also heard through Harold Poole that Eric has been ill again, and that my poor Kathleen is very homesick, I am sure she must be very anxious about Eric.

From the same source we hear that our John is in the thick of it, probably Italy. I have felt for some time that he must be abroad, and I feel terribly anxious. If only the war would stop and you could all come home again.

November 24

Yesterday was a real Red Letter day, as at long last we had a letter from John; the relief was so great that I shed floods of tears, but they were tears of joy, and I soon recovered.

Auntie Flo was here for the day, and we had been talking of John just before the Red Cross letter came, and we were wondering why we did not hear from him. My constant prayer has been these beautiful lines from a hymn:-

Holy Father in thy mercy
Hear our anxious prayer,
For our loved ones, now far distant
'Neath thy care.
Bless them, Save them, Guide them, Keep them Near to thee.

February 14, 1944

What a long time since I wrote in my diary, but nothing very special has happened just lately.

Christmas was just the same as the three previous ones; Harold and Jim and the Cookes spent a week at Holmhurst, though Percy was very seedy and not fit to leave home; but he did not want to disappoint the others. His digestion was so bad, and he felt so very weak, and when they got home again he took to his bed, and never got up again, except to be taken to the Hospital to be X-rayed, when they found he had cancer in the stomach, and the Dr. said he would not live more than three months.

It was a great shock to Auntie Flo, as she had never expected such a thing. He rapidly became much worse, getting weaker every day, and not able to take any nourishment except sips of barley water, and not even that at the last, till he gradually sank, and passed away after only three weeks, but fortunately he did not suffer, except from weakness and sickness. He was so patient and no trouble and quite ready to die, and did not wish them to grieve for him, but it's a great grief to Auntie Flo, though she is so wonderfully brave and self-possessed.

Three weeks after Percy died, Mr. Harrison died; he had had two operations and got over them wonderfully well, then his heart became affected, and he died at Bon Air. Mrs. Harrison is living at Les Genets with Leslie and Eileen until the war is over.

There are two more deaths to report, Miss Cecile Pallot and Mr. John Perchard. Mrs. Perchard will now live at Maupertuis with Johnny, who inherited the farm on the death of his uncle, Dick Crawford, the last of the Crawford brothers.

Six weeks ago l started with a very bad septic foot, caused through a bunion which has been troubling me for years. The pain was intense for three days, until we managed to get some “antiphlogistin ", at least Dulcie did, and that soon gave me relief, until it began to spread, so we had to start all over again as they were afraid of its going up my leg and giving me blood poisoning.

However, it got better at last, and I am quite well now, but still in bed to keep warm, as we have so little fuel, not enough to warm our big lounge, and it has been bitterly cold the last few weeks, and no sun. The sun is shining now, and Frank has sent us a nice lot of logs, so I hope to get up soon. The District Nurse has come every day to dress my foot, wash me and make my bed, and Father has been so good in keeping me warm with hot water bags, plenty of hot food and drinks

March 1

I have got up to-day for the first time, as the bitter north wind has changed to west, and it is a lovely sunny day, so I am sitting in the Sun Parlour and feeling fine.

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