The story of a man and his crystal radio set

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From WW2 People’s War – An archive of World War Two memories, written by the public, gathered by the BBC

People in story: Arthur Linthorn Le Masurier

Contributed on: 24 April 2005

Desperate for news

The late Arthur Linthorn Le Masurier lived with his wife Kathleen in the family home in La Rue de Samares, St Clement. He had been unsuccessful in evacuating the Island despite having queued for days. As days and weeks passed by, having had his wireless set confiscated, he was desperate to have news as to what was really happening with the war. He knew how to make a Crystal Set, and had all the necessary items to make such a set, but at the same time he was fully aware of the penalties for owning one.

Arthur’s longing to hear accurate news eventually made him consider how he could safely use the Crystal Set. Having made the set, he placed it into a Queen Mary cigarette tin. He then realised he would need to find a way of devising a method of warning when listening to the news to give him time to hide the set.

The cottage had a long path from the front gate to the front door. Five feet away from the back of the cottage was a dry granite party wall covered in thick ivy. The kitchen door led onto the back of the cottage. Arthur invented an alarm system. When the latch of the gate from the roadside was lifted, a bell rang in the house. He had dug a trench along the pathway where the wire was hidden, and this wire led into the house which was attached to a bell. If the bell rang, Arthur had sufficient time to dismantle the set, go out the back door and hide the box in a hole where a small granite stone was easily removed and returned, then covered by the ivy.

On one occasion Arthur and Kathleen had been listening to the news and the bell jingled. Mad panic, but the rehearsals paid off. Whilst Arthur was statching away the precious crystal set Kathleen made the kitchen look as normal as possible, and when the knock on the door came, Arthur was back in the kitchen and ready to saunter to the front door. It was only a neighbour to find out if they had heard any news. That was the one thing hardly ever shared with neighbours in case they were to accidentally divulge the source of news to the enemy.

The Islanders had little opportunity to show radical resistance to the occupiers, however many of them used subtle ways of showing their contempt. Arthur was a carpenter by trade. He was ordered to repair a flagpole at one of the manor houses occupied by the Germans. He reluctantly went to see what was needed. The pulley wheel had broken and this was what he had to fix. He did ‘fix it’. When the flag was hoisted it only managed to get half way up the pole and then jammed. Each time the flag was lowered or hoisted the flag would jam half way up. When the pulley was checked there was nothing wrong with it. A carpenter’s small secret!!

Recalled by his daughter Margaret Hull (nee Le Masurier).

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