Thursday, 7 May 2015

An Occupation Diary – Part 16

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 16
July 21, 1944

We have heard this week through Mrs Beer of a letter she received from Harold, in which he says "Eric in the thick of it in Burma and is a Gunner". It has made us all very anxious for him, and I'm thinking how anxious Kathleen must be. I am glad she has gone to live with or near Peggy in Isle of Man, and the children will be so pleased to be near the sea again.

I was thankful to hear that our John and the other boys were well and happy, but all longing to come home.

The news is so good, and all feel that the end is in sight, and today comes the news of the attempt on Hitler's life, and unrest in Germany.
We have a nice lot of vegetables in the garden now, and just live on them, as we only get 4 oz. of meat once a fortnight; and we are making tea substitute from dried pea pods - it's very good too. Dulcie is making coffee from dried potato peelings, and says it is very good.
Father made jam last week, some gooseberry and some blackcurrant. He made a very good swap of fruit for sugar, and the jam is lovely.

July 25, 1944

We had such a thrill this morning between ten and eleven o'clock - about fifteen hundred RAF planes passed over the Island on their way to France. All the big guns opened fire, and there was a terrific noise going on. I don't think any were hit.

Dulcie and Mrs Struthers came to-day, brought their lunch and heard the news.

I went to Petit Port yesterday and saw Moorings. All the tiles have been taken off the roof and smashed to bits. Looking in the front door-way one saw the whole of the interior, as they have taken away all the divisions - it is a terrible wreck; they have also taken the two sheds.

Two birthdays have passed this month, Kathleen's and Peggy's. We spoke of you and wished you many happies.

September 6, 1944

Our dear Doreen's birthday to-day, and we all wish her many happy returns. Dulcie came to see us, and we spoke of Doreen and wished we could see her again.

This long separation is very hard to bear, and we hope when the war is over she will be able to come back.

We are having rather a bad time just now, as the gas is cut off altogether, and water is on for only a few hours a day, and there is only enough food to last till Nov. 30th. However, the news is so good that we hope the war will be over before that date, when we shall be able to get rid of the Germans - there are fourteen thousand of them here.

We have no means of cooking here, except on the lounge fireplace, and have very little fuel, and not much hope of getting more.

January 14, 1945

I have neglected my diary for a long time, and will start again for the New Year, hoping this is the last year of the war.

This last Christmas has been quite different from the four previous ones. Percy and Queenie very kindly invited us to Holmhurst for five days, and we were delighted to accept, as Flo and Dorothy were to be there, also Harold and Jim, and Wilfred and Gertrude.

We were twelve for meals every day, and what lovely ones they were, and how we did enjoy them after the poor food we had been having for so long. The rooms were so warm, too, and everything was perfect. We had been going through a bad time, as all our food was exhausted owing to the Germans taking so much. They have taken all our flour, most of the potatoes and com, and now we only get a weekly ration of 3 oz. of meal and a few potatoes; we used to get 3 oz. of butter, but they have taken that and half our milk.

We were just on the verge of starvation when the Red Cross ship arrived, loaded with food for us and Guernsey, done up in parcels like the prisoners of war get, and we get one each every month. What a joy it was opening them! We were just like a lot of children with their Christmas stockings! We have only had the first one, and are expecting the next in a week's time.

The fuel question is very serious as there is no coal or coke; we are allowed 1 cwt. of wood a month, but cannot get it, as there is no transport, the Germans having taken all the lorries and most of the horses, and all the petrol. Having so little wood, we are only able to have a little fire to cook our dinner and boil a kettle for tea, and it's only four points above freezing in the lounge.

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