Germans search an attic

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An Occupation tale by Graeme Harvey, a Jersey resident who lived through the Occupation years

A cat among the canaries

We lived at 2 Library Place. Mum and Dad were caretakers for Edward Falle Le Gresley, Solicitors, and Bois & Bois Advocates.

Up in the attic, Dad had an aviary of canaries. Somehow, a cat got in one day and caused havoc, so Dad put a wire mesh over the window. Now at that time, the Royal Square was home to many pigeons. The story was that someone told the Germans that these could be used for sending messages to England, but on reflection, I think they they were seen as a source of food. Anyhow, the idea was to catch the birds. A net was put up on a contraption, much like a football goal and placed up near the statue, and the birds enticed into it.

Whilst this was going on (it took quite a while, because the birds weren’t that stupid) someone in the German Office next to the Library must have noticed the wire mesh on the window across the Square. So one Sunday morning there was a rapping of the front door and there stood an NCO with two men, wanting to inspect the room, as we may have been hiding the pigeons. Up they came and saw that it was just an aviary, which by that time only contained a couple of canaries. They were satisfied, but as they came out of the attic, the one in charge noticed a trap door to the roof. He insisted on seeing what was up there, even though my father told him that nobody had been up there since he had been living there (about 12 years). Nevertheless the NCO insisted, so a chair was brought and up he went and opened the trap. Down came a pile of soot and dirt all over him. His two men roared with laughter, but the language that came out, it was a good job it was in German!

He had to be brushed down and have a wash. My sister, Pat, and I didn’t see any of this as we were ushered into the front room out of the way. But Mum and Dad delighted in relating the story. Luckily they didn’t come into the front room, because in the corner was a crystal radio set, and that would have been trouble indeed.

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