A diary for Mrs Dupre's family - part 3

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This is the third section of Mrs G Luce Dupre's diary, kept during the Occupation for her absent children. It covers 1942 and we have illustrated it with drawings by celebrated Jersey artist Edmund Blampied of the war years.

Islanders became very thin on their meagre wartime diet

20 March 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 20 shillings a pound for sugar - but that is being stopped now.

Our meat bill for the week is only 1s 9d. 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 48 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.

3 April

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.

12 June 12

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.

19 July

Uncle Wilfred has taken great interest in my diary, and has had it typed and bound, up to 12 June. 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 of 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.

V-signs signalled islanders' hopes, if not their belief, that the war would soon be over

28 July

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 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 for manoeuvres, they looked terrible, and made such a noise.

2 August

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 15) 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". I 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 on 6 March, before the raid, so I am still feeling very anxious.

30 August

I am now staying at Holmhurst. Queenie very kindly invited me, as Flo, Percy and Dorothy are here for a week. It's so lovely to be all together again, and we are such a happy party. Percy sent his van for me yesterday, and today being Sunday, Father came to lunch.

We have been able to borrow a chair, and so I have been able to get about a little. I went to have tea with Auntie Annie one day, and twice to town, which really looks awful; all the big shop windows are boarded up, and nothing to buy except a few second-hand goods: I tried to get a cigarette lighter for Father's birthday, but there wasn't one to be had anywhere, nor even a watch.

9 September

This is the 47th anniversary of our wedding day, so Father and I have celebrated by going out to lunch at the Marina Cafe at Portelet; not much of a lunch, but we enjoyed the outing and the little change.

16 September

This is a very sad day for Jersey, and indeed for all the Channel Islands. Yesterday an order came direct from Berlin that all English people between 16 and 70 not born in the Channel Islands would be taken to Germany, and we think this is a reprisal for all the bombing done by the RAF in Germany.and All who are taken from here will be placed in a district likely to be badly bombed. I cannot tell you of the sorrow and indignation of the whole Island, for there has been nothing here to warrant such an action.

The worst of it is an Englishman has to take all his family with him, and there are so many who have little children. They only had 24 hours notice, and were only allowed to take a small suitcase and one blanket, a knife and fork, spoon and small bowl for food, and not more than £1. A great many English girls were married today to Jersey boys in order to remain here.

Father went to town this afternoon, and said it was a pitiful sight to see little families walking to town and to the boat. No one was allowed on the Pier to see them off, and the whole place was alive with German guards. They even had machine-guns on the route in case of a rebellion, but what would have been the use ? Nothing could be done - one simply has to obey. Six hundred left today and it is estimated there will be 3,000 more. So many of our friends have to go; we are very thankful that many evacuated before this.

23 September

A great many more have gone since the first lot, and our friends the Cradwicks were supposed to go and had packed up and left their home and gone to the Pier, when fortunately for them the two boats were full up, and quite a number of people were left and told they could go home as no more were wanted.

You can imagine the joy they felt to be free again - even though so many had broken up their homes, and came back to empty houses late at night, but the neighbours were very kind and helped all they could.

We were delighted that the Cradwicks did not go, and they came to see us the next day, but our poor little Daisy Cracknell had to go with her husband, and I hear she was so wonderfully brave over it.

19 October

In the midst of all this terrible business we have had our share of trouble and trial. The death of our darling Babbo has been a shattering blow to us all, and I cannot realise that it is true. Father feels it terribly, too, and has been so sweet and comforting to me. I don't know what I should have done without him. We have had heaps of letters of sympathy, which have also helped, but I feel heart-broken, and longing so for you all to come home again, but my darling Babbo will never come again. I am not at all brave, but cry and cry.

The day before this news came, I was so happy, as we had had three Red Cross letters, one from Emmie, one from Doreen and one from Babbo, in which she said her health was poor and that she had received no news from home.

Since then I have felt that she never received my letter after she left Jersey, and I fear that she fretted over it. It is so awful not to know any details, and we are just longing for the next batch of letters to come. Poor Dick! What a blow for him, for I know how he loved her, and how awful he will feel that she was taken when he was not with her, and the children, too: my heart aches for them, and am wondering what has been done about them. To think all this happened over four months before we heard of it. When will this dreadful war be over, and when shall we be able to get proper letters from you ?

28 November

I have not had the heart to write lately, but must try and remember all that has happened. Everything is very quiet here, and a lot of soldiers have gone away - but the Russians are a trial, poor things; they are half starved and very badly treated by the Germans, and so they come round begging and stealing when they get a chance. We are not allowed to give them food, and it's so distressing to have to refuse them.

There have been such a lot of robberies lately, and the other night a Russian got into a house, and the owner attacked him and was killed by the Russian, and the man's sister also badly hurt. We have to keep all the doors locked, and if I am alone I don't open to any Russians. There is still a lot of black market, and people are paying terrific prices; for instance, £6 for one pound of tea,£1 for a pound of sugar, 15s apound for pork, 3s a pound for beans, £1 for a pound of butter, and so on.

9 December

We have had two Red Cross letters today, one from Emmie saying Ivan and Douglas both have a son. Also one from Melville sympathising about Babbo. Dorothy rang up today, they had one from Olive, and that Kathleen has a son. We are so pleased that all is over and well, and wonder what they will call him.

We still do not know where Kathleen is living - Dulcie has put the announcement of the birth as "Somewhere in Great Britain".

22 December

I have not told you that we have a baby grand piano. It belongs to the Parsonage at St Aubin, and, as the Vicar evacuated, Mr Balleine said we might borrow it. You can imagine what a pleasure it is to have some music, especially since we had to give up our wireless. Both Nancy and Jennifer play and sing so nicely.

We were to have gone to Les Vagues on Boxing Day, and Frank was going to hire a car for us, but the Commandant would not allow any cars out for the holidays, so we are going in the New Year.

One afternoon a little while ago we heard some very sharp and heavy shooting quite close, but we did not know till afterwards what had happened.

If we had only gone across the road, and got on the bank, we should have had a front seat view of a wonderful sight, There was a convoy of ships passing St Brelade's Bay, and a flight of eight RAF planes came over, dropped bombs and machine gunned the ships, sunk two and set another on fire. It was all over in a few minutes and hundreds of Germans were drowned.

Last week Gertrude and Wilfrid came to spend a day with us. Father made some lovely bean rissoles and we had quite a nice lunch. Wilfrid brought his flute and the two men spent most of the afternoon at the piano playing and singing.

Last Saturday Jim came and brought a few pounds of white flour, which one cannot get except by black market, and it is such a treat to have some.

Dorothy came after lunch in pouring rain, to bring me a present from Mrs Pearce; such a beautiful foot muff, which she had made, in ruby velvet lined with fur, and trimmed with skunk. I don't know why she should give me such a lovely present, and I feel quite overwhelmed with it. Dorothy also brought a pudding and some jam from Auntie Flo.

23 December

This morning a German came to the door and asked to see Mr Dupre. I was rather nervous, as, generally when they came like that, it is to arrest someone, or to look at the house, but he was quite harmless and wanted Father to play the organ for them at St Aubin's Church on Christmas Day, an hour before our own service. He was quite a young clergyman, and Father consented. It would not be prudent to refuse, as one would very likely be on their black list at once.

27 December

Christmas is over once more, and I would hardly believe it was Christmas Day until Father played some carols before he went to church. We were quite alone, and had a small piece of pork for dinner in the evening, which was a bit of black market, and cost a pretty penny. Mrs Le Neveu sent us a fowl as usual, and we are having that next Tuesday, as we are expecting Percy for the day. Flo was to have come as well, but is not well enough to do so - we are very disappointed, for it had been a long-standing engagement.

They are all spending Christmas at Holmhurst with Harold and Jim as well, and I hear they are having a lovely one.

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