A diary for Mrs Dupre's family - part 2
This is the second section of Mrs G Luce Dupre's diary, kept during the Occupation for her absent children. It covers 1941 and, we have illustrated it with drawings by celebrated Jersey artist Edmund Blampied of the war years.
20 January 1941
Ever since Christmas the weather has been bitterly cold and we have had difficulty in keeping warm. It must be dreadful for poor people, as one is allowed such a small quantity of coal a week - fortunately there was a good supply here and we have been able to get a load of logs, though very dear. There is no paraffin at all and no candles to be bought. Many people have no kitchen range or gas stove and have to do all their cooking on their sitting-room fire. Auntie Emmie's friend Miss Nicholson is one of them. I don't know how people manage who have no electric light, paraffin or candles; they must have to go to bed by daylight or sit in the dark.
I have told you how difficult it is to get food, except our weekly rations, tea, margarine, sugar, salt, flour, oatmeal flour and meat. There is no salt left and so now it's made from sea water and we get quarter of a pound a week for two - the same as the other rations.
I must give you an example of our meals the last two days. Breakfast, porridge and a cup of hot milk; dinner, a plate of artichoke soup and slice of dry toast; tea, bread and butter and jam, and pot of tea - never any cake; supper, a good-sized rice pudding. Tomorrow we shall have meat and vegetables – the next day a vegetable pie.
This suits me all right, but Father says he is always hungry. One can only get 2oz of tobacco a week and 20 cigarettes, so he has to be careful with that too.
Several people have been had up for being out after curfew and they are fined and imprisoned for three or four days - so you see how careful one has to be.
I am waiting for better weather to go to town and get my hair done again.
Several birthdays have passed since I mentioned the last - there was dear old Tim nine years old and must be getting a fine big boy. Then sweet Nancy whose plaits are getting very long with curly ends - then Jean Marie, my eldest granddaughter of 13, who I am sure is a comfort to her dear mother all this time.
Mrs Baskerville came to see me yesterday and told us how the Germans come into people's houses to see if they are holding meetings of any sort and so she has given up holding the Mothers Union, which she had at her house. She told us how a neighbour had a German in an upstairs room and he excused himself by saying "he wanted to see what the view was like".
There are crowds of Gestapo about, in the buses and tea rooms at Gaudins, so one has to be very careful what one says. Mrs B said if one came to her house she would mop the floor with him, as she speaks German very well - but she would soon find herself in prison like Mrs Morrison, wife of the ARP chief warden. She was in a shop and says a German Officer came up behind her and pinched her behind, and she turned round and smacked his face - he followed her out and made her get in a car and took her off to prison where she had to stay two or three weeks.
Of course, this is unusual, for taking them on the whole they are very well behaved, though they mostly look very miserable and long for their homes. They say it will be so long before they can go home, as when they have conquered England, they will have America and all the colonies to take.
I haven't told you about Nancy's experience - she and another girl were cycling home from school when a German police stopped them and said that he must take their bikes away, as they were riding two abreast, which was not allowed. They said they didn't know and would he let them off this time, but he said "No" for it was in the paper and they should have seen it, and so he took their bikes and they had to walk home.
Jennifer was near them and was very upset and implored him to let Nancy off but it was no good - Dulcie went to see the Commandant but he said he could do nothing, as it was now in the hands of the police and the children must learn to obey the laws.
Nancy had her bike back after a week and now they are very careful to ride one behind the other.
Milk is very scarce here now and we only get 4oz of butter between two a week, so have been using the cream to make a little. There has been no chocolate or sweets of any kind for months. I feel so sorry for the children, for they must miss it so, especially as there is so little sugar. I often wish for some chocolate myself. Father saved up three cigarettes recently and swapped them for two pounds of sugar. There is a long column in the "EP" every night asking for exchange of eatables - food is our chief topic of conversation these days and so far we have not suffered, but the future does not look too bright, as bread is now rationed which will come very hard on the poor people who eat so much of it. They say, too, that the tobacco will be all finished next week - how bad tempered all the poor men will be, to be sure
There was a man shot on the Five Mile Road last week for walking in the danger zone after curfew - he was caught, but escaped and would not stop, so was shot dead.
We have had visitors today, and they all bring rumours of what is going to happen, such as "no buses at all after next month" and no electricity very soon and no tea - all the tea in the shops was very soon finished, and so the States took over all the stock at Sun Works, which was a huge one, as they had not been able to ship the last load, and since then Sun Works have been packing for the shops - and that will only last till middle of April. Annie very kindly brought us a couple of lb tins of tea, which we are very glad of, as our ration does not last all the week.
We have just heard that Colonel Le Gallais has been killed by a bomb in Yorkshire. It seems a pity he went away, as his house is being wrecked by the Germans – about 50 of them living in it. The same thing is happening in Melville's beautiful house - I feel so sorry for Melville and Vi and wonder if they are still in England, or if they went to South America to look after the business.
St Valentine's Day and dear Auntie Emmie's birthday and I send her my loving greetings for many more happier days to come.
On Thursday, Dulcie and Ada came as usual. Ada brought some of her home-made butter and Dulcie brought some of her prunes, some ginger cake and a bottle of milk.
Auntie Flo and Percy came also and they brought sandwiches for tea, also sugar, tea and milk, so we were well supplied and did not have to use any of our rations.
As I have not been able to go out all the winter, I could not get my hair done, so one day last week I got Sheila Nugent to come here and she cut, shampooed and waved it very nicely. It's very doubtful if I shall be able to get a perm, if the electricity gives out soon and I hear people are rushing to get it done while they can.
How very old-fashioned we shall all be when the war is over, as there is nothing to be bought in the way of frocks, hats and coats now, so everyone will be able to wear out all their old clothes. Shoes especially are terribly scarce and there is no leather to mend with - Father had to pay 10s some time ago to get his soled and heeled, and now they are soling them with lino.
Such a lot of people we know are getting awfully thin and worried looking, and very soon there will be many more out of work. All the little shops have closed down and the bigger ones only open three days a week. Most people cannot get enough bread, and vegetables are so dear to buy -we are lucky to grow our own and almost live on them. I don't know what will happen if this war goes on another winter. There would have been plenty of food in the island if the Germans hadn't taken so much away and so many of them living here.
The latest thing is that they have taken all the lorries, besides private cars. Auntie Emmie's car is still here, as I told them it was a 1933, and they only wanted newer ones, but they may come yet and take the tyres.
Some time ago a party of young Frenchmen escaped from France in a little boat and landed on Guernsey, thinking it was the Isle of Wight. They were captured and made prisoners and brought over here and some sent to Guernsey. The ringleader was tried here in the Royal Court by Germans, found guilty and taken out to St Ouen in a lorry with four guards and his coffin, and then shot.
There has been such a lot of talk about it that the Commandant has issued an order, if anyone is heard they will be dealt with the same way.
Seven hundred more troops have come over and are going to the camp at Portelet, and are going to make a concrete road through the grounds of Noirmont Manor and build a fortress at the Point. They often stop and lean on the gate to look at the garden and I'm always glad when they move on.
There are such a lot of flowers out here, especially violets, and there have been some lovely sunny days when I have been able to get out and pick some, but it's turned cold again.
Sunday afternoon and Father has just gone to church - I was looking out of the window when three German soldiers stopped and leaned on the gate, then opened it and came in, swaggered up the drive and sat down on the rockery while the other two took a snap of him in several positions - they all looked very hard at me, but I stared them out and was just boiling with rage and would like to have ordered them off - Father would have, like a shot.
We have been told that Germans have been hanging around our house a lot, so Father went out to look, but everything was quite all right. All the same, I feel anxious about it. Yesterday I saw four of those six-inch guns pass here. They were 20 or 30 feet long and looked very formidable. They have pinched them from the French and are setting them up on the coast near Corbière - in case any British ships come anywhere near, and a lot of artillery has come too. One of the guns has been set up on our headland at Petit Port, so it's just as well as we are not there.
Back at Ipsilanti and have not been well - had to stay in bed about ten days as I had got over-tired with all my gadding about, but am better again. Father took me out yesterday as we have had a bathchair tent for the summer - it will be so nice to be able to get about a bit.
Auntie Emmie's car number was called up this week and it was taken away yesterday. I felt so sad seeing it go, thinking of all the lovely drives I have had in it and of how upset Emmie would be having to hand it over to the Germans - it was in such beautiful condition too.
However, to my joy and great surprise it was returned today, having been rejected as too old. I am so glad, and Emmie will be one of a few to own a car after the war.
Last week I had the pleasure of receiving a Red Cross letter from Emmie and was delighted to hear they were all well and together, somewhere in Devonshire we presume.
It's quite a long time since I wrote as my fingers are so stiff, it's difficult to hold a pencil, also very difficult to feed myself. I am getting so much thinner, too, there will be nothing left of me by the time I see you again. It all makes me think of my dear Babbo and hoping she is in better state than I am, but she is young and more hope of recovery for her.
A lot of birthdays have passed since I wrote and we thought and spoke of you all those days with very loving wishes.
That which I have been dreading for some time, has happened. The Germans broke into Moorings two weeks ago. The Le Neveus rang up and told us late one night, so Father got a lorry and went there next morning and as the Germans were out, he got all the coal which we had left, also my couch and three easy chairs and brought them here. The Le Neveus were so good and worked all day, dragging out the mattresses and anything they could carry to their house.
In the meantime, Dulcie and Dorothy had arrived and worked like blacks all day, taking all they could, and managed to get hold of a man with a lorry to bring it here and we have stored all we could in Rosemary's room and the shed. We were very lucky to get so much away while the Germans were out, as they would have prevented our taking anything away. They are allowed to take anything they like from empty houses and all who have the keys of empty houses are ordered to give up all mattresses or be heavily fined.
There are between 4,000 and 5,000 soldiers here now and they have to find accommodation for them. Every house at Corbière is occupied now and the place is swarming with them - I am glad we are not there. After the Germans came there was a lot of unemployment, so the States put them on roads, repairing and widening, also on our headland making a 12 foot road all round, for pedestrians only. Now they are widening Petit Port road and making it a two-way traffic, which we don't like at all, especially as they are taking 14 feet of our garden, and no compensation for us - I dread to think of what the place will be like when we go back after the war.
My dear Babbo's birthday today and our loving wishes go out to her wherever she is. Last Sunday, Father took me to church in the evening, as it was a special service - I went in my wheelchair, which he took right into church and I sat in it all the time. It was such a treat to hear him playing the organ again and I did enjoy it all. Coming back, we came along the old railway line, which is really beautiful now.
I am sure you will all be very sorry to hear we have lost our dear little Sandy - we think he must have been poisoned, as he was only ill such a short time. We have felt it very much, for he was such a sweet cat and I know how very sorry John will be.
The other night, as I was just going to bed, there was a terrific explosion which shook the house and made all the windows rattle - the next day we heard that a British plane had come over and was fired on by the Germans but fortunately they did not hit it.
Food is very scarce now and we are living practically on French beans and potatoes - there is no flour to be had and people are making it out of potatoes, which is very good, but a trouble to make.
We are bartering some beans for flour. People are also making coffee out of parsnips. Dulcie makes a lot as they drink mostly coffee and she is going to let us have two of their rations of tea.
We only get two ounces of tea a week between us and are only able to make tea once a day and then pour boiling water on the old tea leaves for the next meal. Very soon there will be no tea at all. There has been no cocoa for months and I don't know what Auntie Emmie would do if she were here, as she drinks nothing else.
I have just returned from a week's holiday at Holmehurst. Flo, Percy and Dorothy were there as well and it was so lovely to be all together again. I had not seen Flo for three months and was shocked to see the change in her, she had lost 2½ stone since I last saw her, and has not been at all well
Percy and Queenie were wonderfully kind and couldn't do enough for us - they gave us such beautiful meals, which we all enjoyed so much, after the light diet we get now-a-days. Both Flo and I feel so much better for the change and good food.
As usual, Dorothy was most kind in helping me to dress and do my hair. She also borrowed a wheelchair and took me to see Auntie Annie one day. Another day she took me to Gaudins to meet Gertrude and Jim, Flo came too and we were all so pleased to meet again.
We had to take our own food, as Gaudins only provide a cup of tea for each person.
I haven't told you about the nice girl we have had for the last seven months. She comes at nine till twelve every day, gets my breakfast ready and when I get up about eleven, she helps me dress and do my hair. I have also the district nurse to come and bath me twice a week, which is very nice.
Oh! I must tell you how I made the journey to Holmehurst. Percy sent one of his smaller empty vans and put an armchair in it. I sat in the chair and Father and the driver lifted me right in. It was so comfortable and quick and they lifted me straight into the house, where I had such a welcome. Father stayed for dinner, and again on Sunday. I came back the same way. Everyone is so good to me, far more than I deserve.
Our dear Doreen's birthday today and we send her our loving wishes, with the hope that we shall soon all meet again. This long parting from her is very hard to bear and I fear sometimes I shall never see her again - but that is only sometimes, when I feel rather downhearted. Michael had his birthday the end of July and must be 15 now, and am sure is a very dear boy. He has such a lovely expression I wonder if he is still at school.
Still no letters come for us and there have been thousands come to Jersey just lately. Some people get such a lot and others get none. Val has had over 30 from his wife and Auntie Gertrude a lot from Derek. I do so long to hear from John, as we have had none from him yet and I'm always dreading he may be sent overseas. We should like to hear of Dick, too.
The 46th anniversary of our wedding day and to my great joy I had a Red Cross letter from dear Emmie. It was lovely to hear from her again and that she is pleased we are living in her house. There are a nice lot of apples in the garden, but cannot make any jam as we have no sugar, only getting 6 ozs. a week.
Father's birthday today and such a lovely day that we thought we would like to celebrate. So we set off in my chair to Portelet, as we had heard there was a cafe where they gave a light lunch, and it was quite good: stuffed marrow, cabbage and potatoes, and a little rice mould. There were lots of Germans about, but we don't take any notice of them now. A lot went away lately and 2,000 more came.
We heard that the Germans had left Moorings and so I determined to go there one day and have a look round. Adele, our maid, took me in the chair and as I had the key, we went in. The house was rather in a mess. All the cupboards and drawers out on to the floor and locks broken and several things missing. Only one bed there and, worst of all, they had taken my lovely oak gate-legged table.
I should like to move all the furniture, but am afraid, as there was an order that no one must move any, and one might be imprisoned for doing so.
The house is sure to be occupied again, and there would be trouble if the furniture was gone.
Since I last wrote I have been to Moorings again, and spent a day there, and as there were no Germans about, we decided to move everything except the very big pieces, like the dresser, and the next day got it all away by a horse and van. We brought a lot here and the rest at Adele's home, where they have an empty room. I feel so relieved and so far nothing has been said - and if they want to occupy it again, will simply take what they want from some other house.
We hear now that the Germans are in our house again and have camouflaged it by painting it green and yellow.
The Weeks have had to turn out of their house, also old Mrs Le Brocq - there are supposed to be 15,000 troops coming soon, so that almost every house will be occupied - they have even taken Victoria College and the boys have to go to Halkett Place School.
Last Thursday night we were nearly blown out of bed by explosions - a British plane came over and dropped a lot of bombs, but no one was hurt, though several houses were wrecked. The Germans firing on it was terrific and shook the house terribly - I was glad when it was over, but the plane got safely away.
Last week a lot of foolish people painted a huge lot of Vs in the Square and other places, so for reprisal those districts have to give up their radio sets and the men to do patrol duty every night -it's too bad that so many innocent people should have to suffer for the folly of a few others.
Once again Xmas has come and gone. Father and I were quite alone and were quite happy listening to the wireless - King's speech and Christmas Carols. Father had to go to church in the morning, so we had our dinner at night. A lovely chicken which Mrs Le Neveu had given us and Father cooked it beautifully with the etcs; for dessert we had fruit salad, nuts and cherry brandy - the brandy was a present from Percy Dupre. No Christmas pudding, but Dulcie made us a Christmas cake. She had also given us a big boiling fowl two weeks ago, and a lovely roasting one the Sunday before Christmas, so we invited the Rev G Balleine to dinner that evening and we all enjoyed it immensely,
Of course, we spoke of you all and wondered where you all were, hoping you were having a happy time, and that John was on leave and able to spend it with some of you.