Hedley's diary - 9

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Hedley's Liberation Diary

27 August - 8 September 1945


Hedley Clement's post-war diary is a work of fiction, based on reports in the pages of the Evening Post in the days, weeks and months following Jersey's liberation from German Occupation on 9 Mary 1945. Researched by Marion Falle and written by Mike Bisson, this diary will gradually build into the most detailed history ever produced of the time. It will chart the island's return to normality after the dark days of occupation

August 1945

Monday 27th

  • As I wrote a couple of days ago, the King has sent us a new boss. The last Lieut-Governor left prematurely in something of a hurry in July 1940, and now his successor has been sworn in and is formally in office.
Doris and I joined a large crowd in the Royal Square on Saturday afternoon. It was several rows deep by 2.30 when Lieut-General Sir Arthur Grasett, KBE, DSO, MC – sounds like a brave soldier - arrived with Lady Grasett for his swearing-in. He was received by Bailiff Coutanche and a general salute was accorded by the guard of honour of 100 men drawn up facing the Royal Court. Their commander, Capt Burgers, was presented to His Excellency, who then proceeded on his tour of inspection. He also had a few words to say to each of the officers of the Liberation Force lined up near the statue. The whole ceremony occupied about ten minutes and General Grasett then entered the Court house for the swearing-in ceremony.
We remained outside, of course, but I gather that the Full Court was present for the ceremony and a number of military and naval officers were also in attendance. They all stood as General Grasett arrived and he took his seat alongside the Bailiff and handed him his Warrant of Appointment, which was then passed to the Viscount, and on to the Attorney-General, who read it and moved that the oath of office be administered.
As General Grasett took the oath of office, a salute boomed forth from Fort Regent – it's not often that guns have been fired up there - and the guard of honour in the Royal Square stood to attention.
The Bailiff, in his address, said that at midnight last night the Military Government of the Island came to an end and there was restored the traditional Government of the Island. But there remained until that morning one last step to be taken in order to fully restore fully the system of government as we knew it of old, and that was that the general should take the oath of office as Lieut-Governor. That had now been done and another page in the history of the Island had been turned over.
His Excellency thanked Mr Coutanche for the exceedingly warm welcome tendered to his wife and himself. He was very conscious of the honour which His Majesty conferred on him by appointing him as Lieut-Governor of the oldest possession of the Crown, the Island of Jersey. He said that he had been in Germany until quite recently and knew he had a lot to learn; there was still a lot to be done but it would be his duty and pleasure to help them to return to those days of prosperity, happiness and welfare which the people so richly deserves. We joined in the hearty cheers as His Excellency and Lady Grasett left the building and the guard of honour presented arms.
  • An interesting football match between a team picked from players who have not been resident in the Island since 1940 and an Island XI, will be played at the FB Fields on Friday next kicking off at 6pm. We will welcome back former Muratti stars Tommy Hamon in goal, Sid Nobes, centre half and ‘Teddy’ Lees, inside forward as part of the Overseas team. The Island XI has not been picked yet but the selectors cannot afford to experiment as the ‘exiles’ will be all out to show that they can still produce the goods. The pitch is being specially prepared for this game, and no other matches can be played at the fields until the season officially opens.
  • Tarring of the surface of King Street has been going on during the past few days. Not before time because the roadway has got into a very bad state during the past five years, but is it necessary to have the clouds of dust every time a car passes? When Doris and I went to town on Saturday the shopkeepers were complaining bitterly, as were their customers. Why can't the surface be watered to keep the dust down?
  • It's not only our boys who are coming forward to join the Forces. Vacancies are now available for cooks, stewards and pay writers in the Woman’s Royal Naval Service and it is expected that there will be a queue of applicants on Wednesday at the Royal Naval Headquarters, Terminus Hotel, Weighbridge. No doubt others will be applying for one of several vacancies for student nurses at the General Hospital, which is a fully recognised training school. The successful applicants can expect to earn £40 in their first year, rising by £5 in each of the next two years.
  • We know a mother of six children, and another expected, who was badly in need of a pram. An appeal in the EP resulted in one being delivered to their office yesterday, together with a cot.
  • Members of the St John Ambulance Brigade, including Nursing and Cadet Divisions, paraded on Thursday evening in the grounds of Summerland, Rouge Bouillon, on the occasion of the visit of the Secretary-General of the order, Brigadier WBC Barne. He arrived by air and was met at the Airport by Dr J R Hanna, Commissioner for Jersey. Brigadier Barne inspected the parade, which was under the command of J Le Prevost (Divisional Superintendent). He stopped and chattered to everyone, including two have given 17 blood transfusions between them. He said that after too lengthy a war people tended to become lethargic, but the efficiency he had seen would act as a stimulant and encourage those people who join the Brigade in the future to achieve as high a standard as was set by the Division during the German Occupation. The Order of St John appreciated the fine work done by the Division and asked him to be the bearer of a cheque for £500 as a contribution towards the reconstruction of Jersey’s Division.
He spoke of the excellent work done by the Ambulance and Nursing Divisions in the various hospitals in the Island during the Occupation. He also commented on the valuable work which had been done by the Brigade in the distribution of all Red Cross supplies which had come to the Island. He concluded by complimenting them on the splendid way in which the exercises and parade had been carried out.
  • Three members of the Liberation Force, A Kenyon, J S Heywood and G F Lloyd, have given a silver cup called The Liberation Cup to the Caesarean Cycling Club for one of their events. They were very impressed by the enthusiasm for cycle racing shown by members of the club and also by the friendliness at the club room. The cup has been placed as a perpetual trophy for the sprints. The first competition for it will be held on 2 September.
  • We are about to get soap again. I'm sure the whole population could do with a good wash after so long without. All wholesalers and retailers of soap are being asked to send the Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, in the next week, the names and addresses of their prewar suppliers together with the types of soaps required.

Tuesday 28th

  • Doris' cousin John Houiellebecq and his wife Emily, of Alphington Villa, Patier Lane, have been fearing the worst having still heard nothing of their 17-year-old son James, who was imprisoned in April last year for stealing arms from the Germans. He steadfastly refused to divulge the names of his comrades, and on the evening of Thursday 23 June he was sent to France without even a chance to say goodbye to his parents. Since then, no news has reached them and as the St Malo area was heavily bombed the night he left the Island, they assumed the ship which took him away had been sunk. Doris has heard from his parents that last week a letter was received by Mr Turner of Bagot Laundry, from Sgt Joe Krebs, 2nd US Air Corps, who was taken from Jersey the same time as Beeches Old Boy James. In his letter Sgt Krebs enquired about young Houiellebecq, saying he would like to hear from him. He expressed his profound gratitude to the ‘young British boy’ who, he said, had shown him such great kindness. Mr Turner passed the letter on to John and Emily, who are writing to Sgt Krebs in the hope that he will be able to throw some light on the mystery. Of one thing they are now certain, the ship was not sunk, as Sgt Krebs states that they reached Sr Brieuc safely. John has written to the British Red Cross and other organisations, but all enquiries have drawn a blank and they have almost given up hope. We trust, most sincerely, that reassuring news may still be received. [1]
  • With no official information coming through about the fate of those known to have ended up in German camps, their friends and relatives are desperate for any possible news. Alice Dutot, matron of the Gardner Home, is appealing for anyone who has returned from the notorious Buchenwald concentration camp who may know anything about the fate of a young Frenchm cousin, Joseph Lebedinski. He spent several holidays with her before the war, the last time in 1938. She knows that he was in the French resistance and made three attempts to join the fighting French forces. On the third he got to sea but his compass went wrong and he landed in Alderney. He was sent to Germany and is known to have been in Buchenwald, undergoing a very bad time, in February last year. A parcel was sent to him about that time but it was returned. Nothing more was heard of him and Alice would be grateful if any information which may lead to tracing him could be supplied by any of the Channel Islanders who were in that camp.
  • Others are fortunate to receive better news of their loved ones. Jules Connan has just been reunited with his mother and other relatives in the Island. Jules, who has dual nationality, was serving with the French Forces from September 1939, but was wounded in the fighting in the Somme, escaping from hospital in night attire when the Germans advanced into the town. Acquiring clothing along the way, he got down to the coast and with 17 others found a motor boat in which they got safely away to Jersey. When he realised a few days later that the Germans were likely to take the island he left quickly for England, still suffering from the effects of his wound. He reached Southampton and joined the Free French Forces. After a period of training in Liverpool, he was posted to a French warship in the Portsmouth area. Speaking French fluently, he soon won promotion. He has since been reunited with his mother Rose, to the great joy of both.
  • I wonder how big our island debt has grown following the Occupation. I know my own finances are not that good. Speaking at yesterday’s sitting of the Guernsey States, Jurat Leale revealed that Guernsey faced a debt of nearly £7 million.We have not been told, but presumably ours is even greater. ‘It will be a bitter disappointment to many people,’ said Jurat Leale, ‘that compensation for only part of the war damage to Guernsey property will be met by the British Government. Help from them is promised but must be restricted to the essential minimum. Hard times are still ahead, and we are certainly not through the wood, and the danger of economic collapse is not past. We have had five grievous and barren years. We must be realistic, face the solemn facts, and study matters very carefully before rehabilitation charges can be decided.’ I suspect that the situation here is no better
  • We are told that Going My Way, which is being screened all this week at West’s, is a film which should not be missed. It is said to be the outstanding role of his career, for the King of the Crooners, Bing Crosby. He plays a Roman Catholic priest, a part which earned him an Oscar last year. Another actor in the film is Barry Fitzgerald, late of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, who takes the part of Father Fitzgibbon. The story tells of the Church of St Dominic, New York, which has fallen on evil days since its foundation by Father Fitzgibbon 45 years ago and how Father Chuck O’Malley (Bing Crosby) is sent by the Bishop to pull it round without hurting the old man’s feelings. How he does it and the unconventional methods he adopts apparently form a highly interesting and diverting story. We must try to get to see it, but because getting home at night is still so difficult we may have to sleep on a friend's sofa afterwards.
  • Preparations are now complete for the great Methodist Youth Festival which starts tonight in the Great Union Road Methodist Church with a programme of hymns. Performances will continue at Grove Place tomorrow and on Thursday. The choir, which will lead the singing is composed of young Methodists from various parts of the Island gathered together by James Le Montais, the conductor, and Oswald Breton, the organist. Proceeds will be divided between the Help Holland Fund and Methodist War Emergency Fund.
  • I don't always agree with what the paper says but I have to say I fully support their leader calling for Noirmont to be opened up to the public, challenging the old feudal rights which should have been abolished many years ago and are allowing May de Gruchy, widow of Jurat Guy, who owns the land, to keep the public away from this prominent coastal position by erecting notice boards proclaiming ‘Trespassers will be prosecuted’. A lawyer pal of mine says that these signs are meaningless, because there is no law of trespass in Jersey, but how are mothers who would like to take their kids to the cliff for a picnic, watching the ships go by, to know this? I fail to see how excluding the public from Noirmont wastelands can be of any benefit to Mrs de Gruchy. Could she not make a gesture and grant even a right of way to these wastelands for the benefit of the public until such time as the National Trust can afford to buy the land from her? Even better, why don't the States, who are looking for a suitable memorial to those islanders who lost their lives in both wars, forget any idea of a statue opposite the Pomme d'Or and buy Noirmont Common for the public? I'm sure that Mrs de Gruchy would accept a sensible price for what is largely wasteland.

Wednesday 29th

  • My mate Donald Le Feuvre had the misfortune to be driving in the opposite direction on Monday night when hit by a military ambulance coming from Gorey along the coast road. Royal Army Service Corps driver AJ Hurr, was involved in a series of accidents between Fauvic and Le Bourg having ‘borrowed’ a military ambulance and, together with another soldier, taken it for a joy ride. He gave Donald's car a sweeping blow, crashed into and badly damaged the gate and wall of the house known as Eastbourne, near Transvaal corner, and some time later in the evening at Le Bourg, hit a car belonging to Reg Morley. He drove off after each crash. The ambulance was found some time later at the Grand Hotel. Hurr was detained by the military police and is likely to be charged before a military court. Let's hope they kick him out of the island to serve time in one of their military prisons.
  • It seems that once the remaining liberating troops have left us after clearing away the more obvious military remnants of the Occupation, we can expect little help from the UK Government to get back on our feet. If we are going to return to our prewar prosperity that is only going to be achieved by our own hard work. That is the gist of what has been said by one of the most influential trades union leaders, Eric Hyman, the Channel Islands’ representative of the Transport and General Workers Union, who told a mass meeting of his members at the Town Hall to give of their best in the strenuous times which lie ahead, because in the long run it would be a paying proposition for them.
I agree. If we keep moaning about how hard done by we all are, and keep debating who has suffered most, we will get nowhere. We will only be saved from bankruptcy if every one of us works, and works very hard. Jersey, like the rest of the world, is about to enter a very critical phase. Wages are soaring and the money to provide wages must be found in industry itself – one cannot just stretch out one’s hand and pluck wage packets off a money tree. The money has to be earned and, in the last resource, it is the worker who must earn it. The employer may plan and direct but the working man must actually do the job, and if he does not do it in such a manner as will provide a certain surplus for the owner of the business, then bankruptcy is the next step. And bankruptcy means closing down and men out of work. Only by united and determined effort will this little Island, so dear to the heart of each one of us, emerge from this critical period as successfully as it survived the five grim years of the Occupation.
  • There was another large crowd of people on the Albert Pier yesterday afternoon to say goodbye to relatives and friends leaving by the Hantonia for Guernsey and Southampton. Everything went well for a time, but the crowd later took advantage of the limited number of police on duty and broke through the barriers to swarm on to the landing stage. Sergeant George Le Blancq and one police constable did all that was possible but found themselves powerless to get the crowd back and the Assistant Harbourmaster found it difficult to prevent people from invading the lower landing stage where passengers were embarking. Owing to the low state of the tide it was hoped to get the ship away at 4.30, but there were several Service latecomers and, although the gangways had been withdrawn, one was put back to allow these men to get aboard. As a result of these delays the vessel grounded and it was not until 6.30 pm when the tide had turned that she was able to get away.
There were 342 passengers on board, made up of 84 civilians for England, 55 for Guernsey, 136 Service personnel for England and 67 for Guernsey. These numbers included 22 young women who were joining the NAAFI, four officers and 72 other ranks of the Royal Artillery (the last batch of the 620th Regiment) and Sgt-Major Owen and 45 other ranks of the Corps of Military Police. Incidentally, the MPs, during their short stay with us, have carried out their difficult duties extremely well. They have made many friends here and we wish them well. They may have been an annoyance to some but certainly not to all.

Thursday 30th

  • The Public Library has recently received from the Channel Islands Book Committee in England a gift of over 800 books, both fiction and non-fiction, published during 1940 to 1945. These books are being put into circulation as rapidly as possible, and classified lists will be published at intervals in the paper.
  • There has been confusion regarding the cashing of £5 Bank of England notes. The EP tells us that there is no restriction on the cashing of such notes, but notes above that denomination such as £10, £20, £50 or upwards must be forwarded to the Bank of England in London. I wish I had one or two of those.
Ours can! The youger ones don't even know what custard is
  • Why are we not getting cocoa, coffee, custard, fish and meat pastes? Who is holding them up? Returning evacuees have been expressing their surprise that certain foodstuffs, not rationed in England, cannot be obtained here. Based on what they have told us, I am amazed that it is impossible to obtain cocoa, coffee, mustard, pickles, potted fish and meat pastes, custards, blancmange, and in fact a whole host of other things which were looked upon as the ordinary, everyday necessities in pre-war days, and which, while they are now luxuries to us here, are in some cases in fairly plentiful supply in England and, moreover, are not rationed.
One evacuee who lives just down the road from us said: ‘Surely after three months some, if not all of these things, should be available in Jersey shops.’ When I told her that they were not and never had been and, as far as I could see, would not be available for months, she wanted to know why – and so do many other people. Everybody is blaming everyone else, of course, but the tale is that there is no shortage of all these things. The problem is getting them to the island when all foodstuffs must be bought collectively through the Purchasing Commission – they even count spices as food. Dick Riches, the manager at the RM, where we went to do our weekly shop the other day, told me: ‘We have pretty well every possible commodity on order but we cannot get even one consignment through, not even salt,’ he said. ‘The wholesalers don’t know this Purchasing Commission and won’t trade with them, that is my opinion. After all, they have been trading with local firms for years and want their goodwill, which they cannot get from a States Purchasing Committee.' There are plenty of excuses, but no custard. The first excuse was shipping, then it was the Far East War. Now that is over what will be blamed next? When will the Purchasing Committee get off their fat backsides and get us some cocoa and blancmange?
  • I suppose things could be worse, though. One of the most cheerful sights for those of us who spent the five Occupation years in the Island is the markets with their well-laden stalls. As we gaze on apples, pears, plums and other fruit and vegetables, we cast our mind back 12 months ago when about the only things on the stalls were flowers.
  • Now that the war is finally over, people need to know when it officially came to an end. There are all sorts of tenancy agreements and other documents which refer merely to 'the end of war' without actually stating which war is meant. Apparently the official answer is that war with Japan officially ended on 15 August. Legally, 15 August is now the date governing agreements made ‘for the duration’. But this only refers to house tenancies and special orders will have to be issued covering such items as war damage claims, contracts and agreements containing war clauses.
  • Now that we have got rid of the Hun, who prevented development of any sort for five years, efforts are afoot to make the Howard Davis Park what it should be – a restful pleasance. A walk through the park shows that the flowers beds are a galaxy of colour, particularly at the Plaisance Road end, where there is a very fine bed of dahlias. Work has been going on for some time on a rockery just outside the rose garden and now that cement is available, a fish pond is being made at the foot of the rockery. Beyond this, the area of lawn which was put under vegetables during the Occupation - quite unnecessarily for it never produced a decent crop – is being returned to grass. Trees are to be planted in place of those felled during the last five years, as they become available, and as time goes by the park will become what it was originally intended to be, a place for the rest and recreation of the public.
But, the public must help. It has become common during the Occupation for people to take a short cut across the lawns and to pick flowers as and when they wished. The staff, under Mr Lovett, the head gardener, are working hard to get the park into good order, but there is little encouragement for them if people persist in making their own pathways across the grass and trampling down flower beds, to say nothing of stealing blooms. The War Cemetery in the park has been looking very well this summer, the graves being very effectively decorated with pink ivy geraniums, blue ageratum and verbena and silver foliage plants.

Friday 31st

  • What should prove an interesting broadcast is to feature in the BBC’s popular feature In Town Tonight when our former neighbour Norah Macready, who left the Island a few weeks ago to take up a position with Jersey Airways in London, will be among those contributing, either this Saturday or next. She has written to her parents Lawrence and Louis to let them know.
  • They don't half exaggerate in the EP! Yesterday they reported that there was an accident the Airport when a Jersey Airways plane collided with a vehicle as it was taxiing for its take off. No one was injured but the machine was badly damaged and the occupants shaken. Today they have had to issue a correction, having been informed by the airline's management that what happened was that the aircraft was just moving off the tarmac when it ran into a hand mower, which had been left on the edge of the grass. The handle of the mower slightly damaged the spat of one of the wheels but there was no other damage and the passengers were not affected.
  • Last September we looked forward each night to hearing what became known as the ‘newspaper plane’, then the ‘pop’ as containers of leaflets were released. Details have now been released concerning these ‘bomb deliveries’ and the Daily Telegraph has now reported that Nachrichten fuer den Truppen – News for the troops – the first daily airborne newspaper in the world, was born two months before D-Day under the direction of the Psychological Warfare Division of Shaef. At first 200,000 came off the presses daily. On D-Day a million copies gave the German troops their first full authentic story of the biggest military event of all time. The paper led many Germans to give themselves up on promise of safe conduct. Special bombs, each containing 10,000 newspapers, burst at 1,000 feet and scattered the papers. When the Allies crosses the Rhine, Nachrichten was supplemented by Shaef, a paper produced to help in controlling liberated prisoners and German civilians.
  • Our good friend Winter Le Brocq, the well-known local playwright, recently sent a number of his plays and poetry selections to the Unity Theatre Society and has received a very encouraging reply from their president Mr Ted Willis, who says that he is recommending one of the plays, A Little Bag of Chips, for production by one of the branches of the society. ‘I think you have a sense of poetry and the stage which, in combination create real theatre. I like A Little Bag of Chips better than anything I have read for months,’ wrote Mr Willis, who also invited Winter to meet the society as soon as possible with a view to future work for them. Well done Winter. I hope that this invitation will lead to success in your chosen sphere.
  • A bad habit of parking cars on pavements is a legacy of the recent enemy Occupation and there have already been accidents thorough this practice. For instance, only a few days ago, Walter Morris, who is blind, walked into a car parked on a pavement and was badly shaken. This practice should cease. We don't live on the Continent, where I know that the Frogs do exactly the same – our pavements are for pedestrians.
  • Changes to what is rationed, and what isn't, seem to be announced every time a civil servant opens his mouth. Little or nothing is being derationed, but from 13 October soles for making into sandals or slippers will be rationed. Rubber bathing shoes are now rated at five coupons a pair for men’s and women’s, two for boys’ and girls’ and one for infant sizes. Blackout material, hitherto coupon-free, will be rated at two coupons a square yard, though quite what we need blackout material for now is beyond me. Sandals are rated at nine coupons for men, seven for women, and three for boys and girls. Infants overcoats and raincoats are rated at four coupons. Handkerchiefs are now rated at ¼ coupon if they are not more than 1 square foot in area. Cushion covers and other household textiles are now rationed only if they are ‘made wholly of materials which are not rationed goods’.

September 1945

Saturday 1st

  • They're building us some new boats, but we are going to have to share them with the Isle of Wight. Southern Railway has ordered three new vessels to be used on the Channel Islands and Isle of Wight services. The first is a passenger ship of 3,000 tons capable of a speed of over 20 knots and with accommodation for 1,460 passengers and crew. All three are expected to come into service early in 1947.

Monday 3rd

  • A cow which went for a midnight stroll the other night down our road and locked the stable door behind her. Or did she? Farmer Eugene Allenet complained to the police that his cow was missing. Centenier Garden, accompanied by Det Con Shenton, went to the farm and saw the empty stall and traced tracks of the animal down the meadow. Eugene declared that he had locked the stable the night before and had placed some cabbage leaves in the stall with the cow. In the morning the stable door was still locked but the occupant had gone and the police noticed that the cabbage leaves and stalks were comparatively fresh even though they had apparently been locked in the stable all night. Later in the day the cow was found at a neighbouring farm and returned to her owner. The police found this all very peculiar, for, while they are quite prepared to believe that the animal went, or was taken, for a moonlight walk, they cannot quite swallow the fact that she presumably unlocked and relocked her door, but there is little they can do about it.
  • I was not aware that a ladies netball League has been functioning during the last few years. It can't have been easy. There were two divisions, with teams from most of the parishes, and transport to the games was the greatest problem. However, the teams were keen, cycles were found, and enjoyable evenings were spent in travelling and fulfilling fixtures in various parts of the Island. Apparently many games were watched by a fair number of supporters. Had it been possible to advertise them, no doubt quite a few more would have turned up. This summer’s fixtures are nearly completed but one or two decisive games still remain to be played.
  • Who remembers? I do. Six years ago today, England and France declared was on Germany.
  • Just before nine o’clock this morning crowds began to gather on the Victoria Pier, taking up advantageous positions to witness the arrival of relatives and friends on the troopship Princess Maud. Rain, which up till then had been falling heavily, abated and the sun came through. As the minutes passed, so the crowd grew and shortly after ten o’clock there must have been around five or six hundred people. The Princess Maud is operating as a troopship, bringing garrison troops to the Islands, and as there was sufficient accommodation the total was made up with Channel Islanders who were waiting to proceed home on leave.
The Princess looked a grand sight as she steamed across the bay, and as she swung around the Castle one could pick out the troops as they leaned over the side, the majority wearing lifebelts. At last the gangway was in position and the leave men came ashore, the first being Corp W G Robinson. ‘Gee! At last!’ he said as he hurried off to greet his relatives. Another early man ashore was S/Sgt L Rousseau, who is in the French Army. ‘I was in the Militia previous to joining up in 1939,’ he said. ‘I saw service in France and was evacuated from Cherbourg when the Germans overran that part of the country in 1940.’ He then joined de Gaulle’s Free French Army. Another Jerseyman home again was CQMS Gallichan, who, previous to the war, was employed at the Airport, and has since won a name for himself in the English football world as a referee and linesman.

Tuesday 4th

  • I hear that work is already well under way compiling a Channel Islands Roll of Honour and Service. The work is being undertaken by the CI War Relief Association in London. During the conflict no official information on serving men and women was available but they started the work of compiling the Rolls with information gathered from private sources. Now they are appealing for all details of service by islanders in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Merchant Navy and Free French Forces. The Rolls compiled after the Great War are being added to all the time as more information becomes available and it suspect that work on those for the recent war will be worked on for years to come.
  • The news of islanders sent to the Hun's concentration camps is not all bad. We have learned that the Rev Father Albert Durand has survived the dreaded Dachau Camp and has been reunited with his parents after more than five years enforced separation. On Sunday morning at the Church of St Thomas he celebrated his first High Mass. Having started his education at De La Salle College, Albert was at a seminary in France when the Germans overran the country in 1940. Two years later, after his ordination, he was arrested as a British spy, imprisoned in a fortress and then sent to Dachau. Father Jor, in the course of an eloquent sermon, declared that it was a blessed day for the parish of St Thomas. He pointed out that the young priest was celebrating Mass in the presence of his father and mother, Bert and Emily Durand, and other members of his family, with the exception of his brother John, who was serving in the forces. It was a great day for the young priest, who grew up within sight of the church, where he made his first Communion and where he was confirmed.

Thursday 6th

  • It did cross my mind to start keeping bees during the Occupation, but Doris is terrified of the little beasts and said that there was no way we were having a hive in our garden. Many others have thought differently and bee-keeping has become increasingly popular. With the shortage of sugar and sweet stuffs generally, honey has been much prized and large numbers of people who previously regarded bee-keepers as cranks, started keeping their own bees. Membership of the Bee-Keepers’ Association went up from 30 to over a hundred, and most of these members have found a new and very interesting hobby and intend to continue it.
One of the great difficulties for the would-be keeper of bees during the Occupation was the lack of equipment – hives, shelves, wax and containers for the honey. Local enterprise, however, solved the problem and managed, under great difficulty, to supply most of the needs of the bee-keeper. Hives, together with most of the other appliances necessary, were made from local wood. Special mention should be made of G D Laurens, the Queen Street merchants. The dairies also gave their help by supplying the cream cartons for which they no longer had any use to be used as containers. The association was not pleased with those who took up bee-keeping solely to make money by selling their produce at exorbitant prices – honey reached 25 shillings a pound in some cases. But there was no blackmarket among members of the association. A large percentage of members' produce was given to the hospitals and other institutions. That proves that not all, or even the majority, of the local bee-keepers were out to profit from the unfortunate circumstances which then reigned.
Another cause of great worry among bee-keepers was the amount of thieving that was going on, especially by members of the German forces. At least 150 colonies were destroyed by these marauders during the Occupation. Bee-keepers took every possible measure in an effort to prevent the loss of their colonies. Some camouflaged their hives, others put their hives on the roof out of reach and some even brought them into their bedrooms. Doris certainly wouldn't be allowing that. This year there has been great mortality among colonies due to the bees, when getting dew from potato plants in the early morning, also absorbing arsenate of lead. In some cases thousands of dead bees have been swept up outside hives. During the Occupation the amount of honey given by the bees went down considerably. The experts think that the cause of this was vibrations from gunfire and bombing. Bees are very sensitive to vibration.

Friday 7th

  • The Treasurer of the States has acknowledged receipt of £1 sent to him anonymously as ‘Refund of profit on the sale of two British £1 notes during the Occupation’.
  • I'm not sure whether this means that we are going to get custard and potted fish but apparently The Board of Trade announced last night that utility and other special distribution schemes are now adopted in the Channel Islands. Manufacturers who supply areas including ports from which shipments are being made to the Channel Islands may now execute their orders in receipt of permits and units from Channel Islands’ customers.

Saturday 8th

  • Yesterday I bumped into my old friend Frank Ahier, a Captain in the Merchant Marine, no less. He told me that he is master of the P and O RMS Canton and has been engaged throughout the war in helping to maintain sea communication between Britain and almost every quarter of the globe, for the Canton has not been exclusively engaged in traffic to the East. Frank told me that on one occasion, when a convoy of 70 ships was anchored in Northern waters, he found to his surprise that the master of the ship next to his was another Jerseyman, Capt Syvret, of St Ouen. He has encountered many Jerseymen in all parts of the world and in all walks of life. Although he could have retired, Frank preferred to carry on throughout the war and has been fortunate to come through safely after many exciting adventures. He intends to make a few more voyages and then, at his St Martin’s home, drop his anchor for the last time and settle down for a well-earned rest.

Notes and references

  1. Eventually it was learned that James Houillebecq died in Neuengamme Concentration Camp in January 1945
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