A diary for Mrs Dupre's family - part 5
This is the fifth section of Mrs G Luce Dupre's diary, kept during the Occupation for her absent children. It covers 1944 and we have illustrated it with drawings by celebrated Jersey artist Edmund Blampied of the war years.
14 February 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 doctor 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. 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 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 it 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
I have got up today 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.
There does not seem to have been much to write about the last three months, and we are getting very tired of the suspense of waiting for the Invasion to start. We were very thrilled with the good news about Rome, and the account of the entry of the Allies. The same night we were kept awake with the sound of thousands of RAF planes passing over the Island - the house rocked and shook and the noise was terrific, like an earthquake. I knew something extraordinary was happening, but it did not occur to me that it was the Invasion at last, and was quite surprised to hear in the morning that it really had come.
Were we thrilled and excited! I must tell you that Father had hidden his wireless instead of giving it up, and so we were able to listen in, and heard all the thrilling accounts of the landing, and the correspondents' reports. We were listening in nearly all day on Tuesday, Churchill's speech, the King's speech, and the service by the Archbishop of Canterbury. We have missed nothing since.
It is such a joy to know we are doing well, though our thoughts and prayers are with our brave boys at the front, and the terrific ordeal they have to face, and the sacrifice. My constant thought is for my dear John, and all whom we love who are in danger. We, of course, are in a state of siege; although a lot of Germans have gone away, there are still a good many left, and we are wishing they would go, as then the British would come and set us free, and would also bring us food and medical supplies, which are so desperately needed.
The Hospital is full of wounded Germans, who were rescued from the sea last week, when several boats were sunk. Unfortunately for us, the Germans are taking so much of our food away; they are taking 24 cows a week from the Island and our stock of butter and sugar, so now our rations are being reduced, and there is only enough gas to last till July, as there is no coal and nothing can come from France now. The Harbour is full of disabled ships, and I don't think the Germans could get away even if they wanted to - they say they would rather be taken prisoner than fight.
We went to Mrs Tennant to tea one day last week, another day to Mrs du Guerin, and on Monday to Miss Arm. Harold and Jim were spending the weekend there, and they all came on here each evening to hear the news.
The Germans have cut off the telephone, so we are not able to ring up. Also, there is only one bus a day, and only for people who work in town, and we are feeling very cut off.
Some American planes came over one day and dropped a bomb at La Rocque, hoping to hit a gun, but hit several houses instead; this makes the people living on the coast very nervous. We are hoping soon to hear Cherbourg has fallen.
June's birthday today, 11 years old, too, and she must be getting a big girl. I do hope the flying bombs do not get as far as Hereford. I think so much of Kathleen all alone with her little family.
Dulcie came yesterday and told us about the affair at La Rocque. There were 14 houses wrecked, and many people injured and homeless. Some have gone to a nursing home, others have been taken in and cared for by kind neighbours. Dulcie has been very busy helping, and has a family living in Miss Bowles' house next door. She actually saw the bombs drop, as she happened to be outside attending to the goats.
Last night planes were overhead for several hours. We think they were German, as they were not fired on, and must have been travelling backwards and forwards to France, taking officers away, as that is their only way to escape now.
We hear that Cherbourg has really fallen, and we hope to hear all details later on.
It is very quiet here these last few days, no firing or explosions; the Germans are very nervous, expecting an attack any moment.
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.
We had such a thrill this morning between ten and eleven o'clock - about 1,500 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 today, 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.
Our dear Doreen's birthday today, 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 20 November. 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 14,000 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.