A Rector remembers

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Recollections of the German Occupation by the Rector of St John, The Rev Raymond Hornby (1898- ) from The Pilot, 1995

Five years of occupation by enemy forces was a very hard and difficult time, but thank God we came through all safe and sound.


I can remember that day in June 1940 when my wife and myself were in the garden at the Rectory of St John as I was then Rector of the parish. In those days the Rectors were still members of the. States; it was not till after the war that both the Rectors and Jurats came out of the States and were replaced by what are now known as Senators.

The German commander said that we were to continue meeting at the States, but we were very careful not to discuss matters which we felt were not a concern of the occupying forces. We used to meet regularly as a small committee appointed by the States consisting of the late Deputy Le Masurier, who was chairman, the managers of the Electricity Company, Waterworks Company and Gas Company, and myself.

We were able by making false statements of the accounts of the Gasworks, Electricity Company and waterworks, to keep things going for longer than they would have been if the Germans had got to know the financial position of these companies.

We always had in our minds that the Occupation would not last long and that we would be freed by the British, so it helped us to live through those difficult years.

We were allowed to hold services in our churches, but one had to be very careful in what we said in our sermons, as there was always a German soldier hiding behind one of the pillars of the church: listening to every word. Members of the congregation would give one a sign that there was a German present in the congregation.

Feeding the community

The woman folk had a very difficult time trying to keep us men fed, and I feel that they need to be highly mentioned. Those who were able would collect corn in the country, although this was forbidden by the Germans, and they used to take it to be ground into flour at a mill in the parish, I think it was St Ouen, to take to the elderly and needy.

We came through after five long years when we had no news of our families and friends who were in England. Little did we realize at that time that it would be so long, and always lived day by day thinking that the end was near.

It seems long ago that one has forgotten many of the things that happened. The Rev Cohu, who was acting Rector of St Saviour, used to ride around the town on his bicycle shouting "Good news, it all will soon be over", he was trying to cheer people up, but unfortunately the Germans arrested him and sent him to a concentration camp. We never heard of him again but we understood that he had died.

There are of course many things one could relate if one's memory went back that far. It is sufficient to say that we came through it all and remain to tell of some of our experiences and are thankful that we are here still.

I am sure that there are others who could give a better account and be able to relate instances which I have forgotten.

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