Trinity residents' Occupation memories

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Trinity residents'
Occupation memories


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A set of personal recollections of the Occupation by people living in Trinity in 2020, published in the parish magazine, Trinity Tattler that year, and added to the site in 2023. Most of these people had moved to Trinity in the years after the Second World War

Ruth Picot, nee Billot

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Ruth was seven years old at the start of the occupation and lived at Ville Bree in St Martin with her parents and two sisters.

Her aunt, uncle and their children, together with some very good neighbours and their two boys, lived close by, forming a little community in which the children all played together.

Ruth has pleasant memories of this time: “There was a bell on the chimney of Ville Bree which my father would ring to warn the other households that the Germans were about and on the look-out for things like radios, extra pigs being kept etc.

"It was quite normal for farmers to keep an undeclared pig so that,especially at Christmas, pieces of pork could be given to the many friends who regularly called at the farm. At the time I was not aware there was a wireless in the house, as our parents didn’t want us to know, should we ever be interrogated, but I had my suspicions because whenever special friends or relations came to visit, they would all huddle into thepantry!

The bottom shelf of the pantry was made of wooden planks on a ground floor, which could be lifted. Some of the ground had been removed to make a space to conceal a radio.

Rabbits

We kept a lot of rabbits and our job when we got back from school was to get their food from the hedges. The meat was very good and usually made into a casserole, which was a substantial meal. Mum would put the skins to dry and then gloves would be made. The rabbits were kept in the garage and my dad rigged up a security line with wire that was connected to the kitchen. Sadly, the warning failed to go off one night when someone cut through the wire and went off with all the rabbits

The girls would take turns to make the butter in the churn. The milk would be put into large enamel bowls for a day or two and the cream would be skimmed off. It was quite a task because in the summer the cream would get too hot, so we had to add cold water to make it turn, and in the winter it was too cold, so hot water would have to be added.

My uncle used to light his oven on a Sunday, fuelled with gorse and other bits gathered in his woodland area and the whole neighbourhood would take their Sunday lunch, such as it was, to be cooked. We would put our earthenware pots into the oven, filled with beans and a bit of pork, if available, and leave them there until the next day. They were always very well cooked as the oven retained its heat for a long time after the fire was out.

Part of our diet was winkles, limpets and razorfish which we got from Archirondel. We also collected seawater, put it in flat tins which we left on the roof of Grandma’s conservatory to evaporate until the salt remained. Carrots and parsnips were grated and dried to make carrot tea and parsnip coffee, which was not very palatable. Sugar beet were scraped and cleaned, put in the copper to cook and then pressed to make syrup, which was very good.

Terrible grey bread

The bread was terrible, grey, with bits of husk. Potato flour was also made; it was a lengthy process involving all the family, but the result was fantastic, just like cornflour, which made wonderful cakes.

My father was not in good health and whenever he was poorly we would be sent to stay with my paternal grandparents. On one occasion walking home from school on the main road, with three or four other girls stretched across the road, laughing and joking, a German officer passed on his bike and before we knew it, had jumped off and smacked me across the face.

I was very distraught and ran crying down the road to my grandparents. The only explanation I could give was that I used to lick my lips to moisturise them and possibly the German thought I had stuck my tongue out at him. I couldn’t walk along that road for a long time after.

My dad had dismantled his lorry and hidden all the moveable parts in different lofts on the farm. In anticipation of our liberation, it was reassembled in the last week of April. Unfortunately the petrol we needed to get into town, which was kindly promised by the lorry driver who collected our milk every day, didn’t arrive on Liberation Day, but there was still cause for much celebration.

Out came the Union Jack, which had been hidden in the rafters somewhere, and it was hoisted on the flag mast in the garden. My sisters and I were amazed to see these things appear from nowhere. There was a service of thanksgiving at the Parish Church, which the family all attended.

The jubilation continued the next day, when the petrol arrived, and all the neighbourhood crammed into the back of the old Dodge – about 32 of us, adults and children - and drove down to town. We saw the ships anchored next to Elizabeth Castle with the front down and all the Tommies pouring out, throwing sweets and chewing gum into the crowds.

Liberation Square was packed with people. It was a wonderful experience; the most memorable day of my life and it is impossible to put into words how exhilarated we were. What has remained with me since those days was the wonderful community spirit, we all had during the occupation, that food must not be wasted and I now realise the strain and stress our parents were under to provide for us. Above all though, is that freedom of speech to do, or say what we like, when we like should never be taken for granted.

Margaret Renouf, nee Gallichan

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“On 1 May 1942, on my sixth birthday, I started school at Helvetia. Living in Trinity meant a journey into town on the local buses. They were powered by gas, made by heating charcoal on small boilers, and were unreliable.

The local farmers were ready to help and the Le Sueur, Picot and Ahier families decided to use a horse and van covered with a tarpaulin to transport the school children into St Helier. It looked just like a covered wagon used in cowboy films. Every Monday I was at the bus stop and I always heard the noisy bus/van approaching as all the youngsters were enjoying themselves. I was little and managed to squeeze in and probably sat on someone’s knees.

Happy time

It was a happy time, meeting children from other schools, such as Victoria College, De La Salle College and other private schools. My parents had some cousins living near the school and they were happy to look after me from Monday to Friday, so I stayed in town during the week and went back home for theweekend.

The cousins, Florence Luce, Lydia Bichard and her daughter Doris, were so kind to me that I felt safe and happy in their home. Florence and Lydia spoke fluent French as they had lived in Gaspe in Canada and Lorient in France. I was happy to learn lots of new words.

My parents supplied them with milk, butter, veg and fruit, as food was scarce in St Helier. Thanks to the farmers and the cousins, I was able to be at Helvetia in the war years 1942 to1945 and then to 1948. I remember Mrs Haines and her daughters Miss Phyllis, Miss Norah, Miss Enid Le Feuvre for speech training, Reg Nicolle for gym and Mrs Arnold, who was a popular teacher. The prinicipal, Mrs Haines, made sure all went well.”

A Luftwaffe band in King Street in 1940

Daphne Tingley, nee Gibaut

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It cannot be fun having to live with blasting a short way down the road, but that was Daphne Tingley’s experience. During the Occupation she lived close by the Underground Hospital when it was being built. The Germans did try to warn neighbours when it was about to happen, because there would be rocks flying in the air and bouncing off roofs, but that didn’t always work.

One day, when Daphne was on her way home from St Lawrence School, she found her way barred by a German soldier. He spoke no English and she no German, so she was understandably alarmed when he bundled her to the side of the road. When she heard the sound of the blast she understood, and she and the soldier parted on better terms than earlier.

Slave workers

They used to see slave workers on their way to and from the work of building the hospital and she recalls they presented a miserable sight. Their house had a pump in the back garden and the workers used to stop on their way from work to wash off the dust and dirt of the day.

Towards the end of the Occupation occasionally German troops would ask them for food, but they had nothing to give. One day a German knocked at the door and asked Daphne’s mother to cook a chicken, but they had no coal for the range. The soldier left and returned with coal and the chicken was duly cooked. He departedwith his chicken and the family had the broth.

One day one of Daphne’s brothers was exploring a derelict cottage near the Underground Hospital – which his mother had strictly forbidden – and fell through rotten floorboards and knocked himself out. A German doctor who was driving past stopped, brought him home and tended to him until he regained consciousness.

On Liberation day Daphne walked to the Pomme d’Or, where she met her uncle and his family. The area was so crowded they could not get close enough to see what was going on. She does recall standing on the slipway watching the ships unloading vehicles. She recalls a Jeep with British soldiers stopping at the bottom of their road and giving them sweets. After Liberation, theUnderground Hospital was sealed, but Daphne admits to sneaking inside and seeing the operating theatre and beds.

She has one lasting memory of the Occupation: an abiding dislike of swedes


Ursula Taylor, nee De La Mare

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During the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the Liberation Ursula Taylor decided to write down all the things she could recall so that her memories could be passed down to her grandchildren

"I was three and a half when the German forces arrived in Jersey and the Island was forced to surrender. We lived in Trinity at the time. My mother,my sister Roselle, Ninin (an elderly aunt who lived with us) and myself were in the kitchen at Egypt Farm as it was then. Ninin was bathing my younger brother Carlyle in a bath tub by the Aga when we heard aircraft flying very low overhead. My parents had been expecting the Germans to come as rumours of their arrival had been rife for days.
"Mum shouted "Quick get out of the house", fearing they would bomb us. Ninin picked up Carlyle, wrapped him in a towel and we ran to the back of the house, in the cotil, and lay flat under a huge oak tree.
"The planes came over again, they were flying so low we could see the pilots in the cockpit and they were firing bullets at us. We could hear the bullets landing in the tree, but thankfully no one was hurt.
"I seem to recall that Liberation lasted for quite a few days before people began to settle down to normal life again. Cars and lorries began to appear – some had been hidden under piles of straw or mangolds in sheds. The young lads had a great time raiding the German bunkers. The soldiers had left rifles, binoculars and pistols. One thing I remember is that they had reels and reels of yellow ribbon – used as markers I suppose.
"My brothers Winston and Bunny got me enough yellow ribbon for my hair to last me for a few years. Dad would not let them keep the rifles and pistols they found but he did let me keep the ribbon.


Maggie Moisan, nee Richomme

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Margaret Rose Richomme was not quite five years old when her sister came rushing into the house to say that an aircraft had bombed the harbour. Maggie’s mum was so terrified that she took the children with their pet dog and cat and hid under the big brass bed until, after a while when nothing had happened, they had to come out because it was milking time. Maggie’s father and brother had both left the island to join the British Army

When Maggie went down with whooping cough there were no pharmacies to alleviate her discomfort, so it was a very old natural remedy, still available in some parts of Europe, that she had to suffer. Du Sithopd’jus d’Colînmachons was made by shelling live snails and putting them in a muslin bag with brown sugar, then collecting the syrup that drains through overnight. Apparently, it did the trick.

How can one describe how different life was then? Maggie’s mother used to grow tobacco plants the leaves of which she dried and smoked. They kept rabbits which were fattened for the pot and their skins dried to make mittens.

Crowds outside the Pomme d'Or Hotel on Liberation Day

Clothes were swapped, handed down, reused and altered to fit. One green cardigan Maggie was given had its sleeves cut off to be sewn up as a pair of socks.

One oasis of normality in all this was school, and Maggie has happy memories of her time at St Mary’s with all her friends, under the headship of Mr Le Dain


Daphne Minihane, nee Noel

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During the Occupation Daphne Minihane’s family lived in a house in Byron Lane, meaning that she and her sister could walk to school at FCJ and her two brothers to De La Salle

On 8 May she can recall her father taking the four children down to the Royal Square to listen to Churchill’s broadcast, which she recalls vividly. Then on to the harbour to observe the Royal Navy ship as it ‘stood off’ behind Elizabeth Castle. She was 13 at the time, and so old enough to take in the significance of what she was witnessing.

She recalls on the next day being outside the Pomme d’Or and watching the Union Flag going up. More especially she recalls it being hoisted at Fort Regent by Capt Le Brocq. For her, that was the true signal the Island had been liberated. And there was singing, lots of it. And flags emerged from everywhere. One interesting sidelight has emerged: people who had not been to town much found themselves wandering round the cemeteries, noting, sometimes with surprise, who had died. Cemeteries as early social media, perhaps?

Discussion turned to food. Of course, after Liberation, food rationing was still in force as it had been before. During the Occupation Daphne recalls queuing with her mother outside the Central Market, where they had to wait for the German quartermasters to complete their shopping beforethe locals could move in.

Their father grew vegetables in their garden and had a garage nearby where he kept chickens and, although Daphne did not find this out until after Liberation, his crystal set. She recalls sending potatoes and swedes up to the bakehouse. Necessity was the mother of invention: Daphne recalls slack from the coal yard being mixed with tar and then wrapped in paper to be carried home for burning. Messy, but “needs must”.

Gradually food improved. Red Cross parcels had started to be delivered and Daphne recalls the finest cup of hot chocolate she ever drank when her mother mixed cocoa powder with sweetened condensed milk. Not perhaps the recipe of choice today, but a realtreat, nonetheless.

Two other anecdotes emerge: the time her sister, who had never seen a banana before bit into one with the skin still on it, and the time her father cycled – on his hosepipe tyres – from Town to St Ouen to fetch butter and milk from Frank Mauger. On his way back he was warned there were Germans stopping people outside the Grand Hotel. So, he put the butter on top of his head with his trilby on top. As he was stopped outside the Grand Hotel the butter had started to trickle down his face. “Hot?” asked the German who waved him on.


Bob Norman

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During the Occupation, the German forces ensured that Rozel Bay was well fortified from attack from the sea, land and air. This included a resistance nest at Rozel Fort, tank traps on the beach and a mobile field gun mounted on the front lawn of The Moorings, the Trinity home of the Norman family.

The Normans had moved from Westmount in St Helier to the property adjoining Rozel slipway just before the start of the war, buying it from a Mr Blackburn, who lived opposite.

Robert Norman recalls that his parents, Bob and Lucille Norman, had two visits from the Germans. “The first time they came they asked us to move, but my father said we weren’t going to budge. The second time they came, they gave us just two hours to get out.

Lift on lorry

We couldn’t find any means of transport so in the end they gave us a lift in the back of one of their lorries.”

Apart from Robert, the family included his younger brother Francis. Another brother, Charles, was born after the war. Robert explained that in some respects itwas fortunate that their former home at Westmount had not yet sold, as it gave them somewhere to go. It was also fortunate that it still had some furniture left in it.

One of the first properties to be commandeered at the start of the Occupation, The Moorings was used as a defence position and as billet accommodation for the gun crew. When there was a change-over of personnel, the house would be empty for a day or two.

Somehow or other Robert’s father got to know when this would happen as he would cycle to Rozel and nip into the rear garden to pick the loganberries and other fruit growing there. The family moved back to Rozel in 1946 and remained there for many years.They used money from the sale of their Westmount home to fund repairs to TheMoorings and also had the trenches and barbed wired removed from the garden


Dennis Pallot

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“I was five-and-a-half when the Occupation started. I remember that planes flew in really low over Gorey Village, where we lived, and we all had to hang something white from the windows to show we had surrendered.

I went to Grouville School. At lunchtimes my friend and I would dash off to what later became Maison Gorey Hotel, and was then occupied by the Germans. There was a side lane that led to a courtyard at the rear and this was where the soldiers had their lunch.

We would just stand and watch and if we behaved ourselves we would sometimes be given leftovers by the cook. Once he called us inside and, putting his finger to his lips, stuffed half a loaf up each of our coats and said 'Reise, Reise', which we thought probably meant ‘go’ or’ run’. Anyway we went and we ran! He couldn’t be seen to be giving away food!

There was also a PoW camp on Gorey Marsh and we used to go there sometimes and be given the occasional piece of toast. We used to follow the German soldiers when they were marching with their guns on their shoulders and we put sticks on ours to be like them. They often used to sing when they marched.

For us children it was all a great adventure. On 9 May my older brother and I borrowed our parent’s bicycles and cycled down to St Helier. We were right outside the Pomme d’Or Hotel and saw the Union Jack raised. There was such a crowd. We then cycled to Victoria Quay to see one of the boats that the British had arrived on. We all felt such a relief that it was all over and it was a very exciting day.


Sheila Le Var, nee Rault

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Mr Rault, Sheila’s father, was conscripted in France in 1939, having done his National Service, and when his wife gave birth to their third child, Alan, back in Jersey, he was able to return home to support her. He had to find his own way back and managed to board a coal boat for the journey home.

He started working for the Waterworks, but when the Germans arrived and took over the company, he refused to work for them and left. Meanwhile, through a friend, Mr Gotel, who worked the farm at Trinity Manor, the Raults became caretakers of the manor during the Occupation, when Mr Riley and his butler, Mobley, had to move to England.

Initially the family lived in the wing of the manor, and it was hoped that their presence would keep the Germans away, but in 1942-43, Trinity Manor was commandeered, and the Raults were forced to move into one of the manor cottages as the occupying forces moved in.

The family kept chickens and rabbits and had to bring them inside every night for fear the Germans would steal and kill them. They also had a crystal set, and when this was reported to the German authorities, the cottage was turned upside down. The rabbits and chickens went, but thankfully, the radio, which was carefully hidden in the potatoes,survived and is still around to this day.


German Cycle Company 319 parading through the Parade. All cyclists and motorists were made to use the right side of roads

David Luce

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"We lived at Trinity Post Office,now The Post House, and when the Germans arrived I remember that all houses had to show signs of surrender, such as white sheets hanging out of one of the windows.

"It was not long before swastikas were flying on the flagpoles of public buildings. Germans, in formation, often marched along the roads, singing on the march. I can still hear the echoes of their songs.

Change in traffic rule

"In due course we had to attend to Orders that appeared in the Evening Post. One I particularly recall was the day when we had to ride our bicycles on the right hand side of the road. I had four miles to ride to Victoria College and it was indeed an uncanny experience on the first morning the new law came into force.

At least the roads were fairly quiet as nobody had any petrol to put into their cars. To have a decent bicycle to ride was a real luxury in those days. A tyre or inner tube would appear in the Exchange and Mart columns in the Post for some other commodity.

Then the day arrived when we were ordered to hand in our radios. We made our way to the Parish Hall to hand them in. But our postman had a crystal set and brought us the headlines in his cycle repair kit.

We also had to hand in our Jersey and English money to the banks and to receive Reichsmarks and pfennigs. It was a strange experience, but in due time we got used to it. Events that transpired in the course of the war, and which saddened us, included the deportation of English-born residents to Germany.

Red Cross letters

The only written messages we could send out of the island were Red Cross letters which could contain only 26 words! Replies might be received after several months. I have one such which my uncle sent me. He was serving abroad with the RAF.

Among the many prisoners-of-war was a young Russian who was taken in by local residents. As electricity was in short supply, my father, who was the organist at Ebenezer Methodist Church, was glad of his services to pump the organ so that there would be wind in the bellows. Otherwise, the organ would have remained strangely silent.

As goods in our shop were in ever shorter supply we used to go down to Bouley Bay to fetch some sea water and boil it down on the stove in our kitchen. The water evaporated, and the salt was at the bottom of the saucepan. We dried it out in the sun.

Food parcels

Then we grew sugar beets and used the syrup for sweetening. There was no more sugar to buy. 1944 saw the arrival of the SS Vega, bringing us some Red Cross parcels from Canada. As parishioners brought their ration books to our shop they received their parcels which contained packets of tea and cans of meat and fish, the likes of which we had not seen foryears.

There were also large sacks of white flour with which my father baked hundreds of loaves in his baker’s oven.

9 May 1945 will never be forgotten. It was great to be down at the harbour with thousands of people to welcome our troops as they stepped ashore. One of myrelatives, describing the day, wrote that “the air was electric with joy”! And very soon we received warm greetings from Buckingham Palace.

Elaine Le Sueur, nee Carre

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Elaine was 15 at the start of the Occupation, during which the picture on the right was taken, and lived with her family at La Pointe, a farm about five minutes from Grosnez Castle in St Ouen. Elaine always felt she missed out on her teen years and shares her memories.

Bombing

"On 28 June 1940, as the war was getting closer, the Germans dropped a bomb on Les Landes and on the harbour where farmers were waiting with barrels of potatoes to be shipped to England. A couple of days later, we were told to hang white sheets at the window for surrender.

"Living on a farm, I was never hungry, and we had chickens, rabbits, eggs, milk, plenty of veg and also pigs, one of which would be killed on the farm, hidden and salted. A salt cellar was dug in the chicken house and we would uncover it to take two pieces of pork out and then cover it up again.

"I would cycle to town on most Saturdays from St Ouen with little pats of butter for a few friends. The Germans would come to the farm to see that we sent enough milk to the diary.

"Our new lorry was taken from us and the wireless set. We did have a crystal set, though, hidden in the horse stable, which would tell us a bit of news about how the war was going. Most days, some 35 to 40 German soldiers would pass by our farm marching from Plemont to Les Landes with their band and singing their songs. It was nice to hear a bit of music.

"We made loads of potato flour, which we scraped, and worked the pulp several times until the flour would settle at the bottom of the trays and dried in the sun. We also cooked sugarbeet in the copper so had plenty of syrup to use as sugar. I would get our rations from the shop at Millais and the bread was brought to us by horse and van. Mrs Gould kept the shop and she was always so friendly and lovely. She kept a Russian and he would be at the window, happy and smiling, but someone reported her and she was sent to prison camp in Germany, where she died.

House searched

"One day, when I was on my own, two German officers came to search the house. I had to open the cupboards and show them around. When we came to the storeroom, they saw a sack hanging from the ceiling and took it down. My father worked as the manager in charge of Farrell’s threshing machine at Le Marais and had managed to keep a sack of wheat because my sister Ivy was getting married and he wanted to make her a cake. My father was sent to prison for three weeks, but said it was a lovely holiday, with no work and playing cards with some men he knew.

"On Sundays we would walk twice to St Ouen’s Methodist Chapel.There were always a few young men waiting for the girls to come out and one from Trinity, George, came to ask me if he could take me home. That was in 1942 and a year later we got engaged. I cycled into town to meet George and his sister at the jewellers and they managed to find a ring, but it was the only one left, so I could not choose. George cycled from Trinity to St Ouen three times a week, but the tyres on his bicycle were getting worn out, so they were fitted with hosepipes, which made it much harder to pedal. We got married six months after the Occupation.

"After the invasion in Normandy in June 1944, food was getting really short, particularly for many families who had no gardens. The Vega came in January 1945 with Red Cross parcels and we cycled up to the Parish Hall to collect ours. What a delight to open them and see a lovely white loaf, chocolate biscuits and much more we had not seen for five years. I cannot remember why I missed out on 9 May, so I didn’t see the English Tommies arrive and all the excitement that went on in the square, but I count myself very lucky not to have felt hungry during our five years of occupation.”


Ruth Le Breton, nee Pallot

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Ruth Le Breton’s memories of the Occupation illustrate just what a traumatic time it was, especially for the young. As a very small child, she awoke one night from a deep sleep in her house at Mont a l’Abbé to find German soldiers in her bedroom blinding her with a torch and demanding answers to questions.

Terrified, she watched with her sister and three brothers as her father was peremptorily arrested and marched off to prison. His ‘crime’ had been listening to the news at a neighbour’shouse and the punishment was solitary confinement in Newgate Prison. His only consolation was that on Sunday nights at an arranged time he would stand on the toilet seat In his cell while Ruth’s mother stood in the doorway of the Opera House so that they could wave to each other.

La Rocque

During the Occupation, Derek and his mother lived with his grandmother and two aunts at Beechwood, La Rocque. Derek vividly remembers when La Rocque was bombed on 28 June 1940. It was early evening and he was limpeting for the cats with his mother and Aunty Susan in the rocks at the bottom of the long slip.

Ruth Le Breton’s brother took over his father’s duties as Superintendent of Cemeteries and she would go with him sometimes to the Stranger’s Cemetery, now the Crematorium, where she would witness ragged and starved barefooted Russian prisoners come to bury their dead comrades.

Ruth’s mother, like many others, found it increasingly difficult to feed and clothe her five growing children. After what must have seemed like an interminable time, news camethrough that the Vega was expected to arrive with Red Cross parcels. It’s hard to imagine what simple pleasures had been missed over the years of Occupation but some idea might be had from the way that Ruth’s mother became, in Ruth’s words, ‘ecstatic’ at the thought of once again having a ‘nice cup of tea’.

The end of the Occupation could not come too soon for the family, but especially for Ruth, who had been left £20 in an aunt’s will and could not wait to buy the bicycle she had dreamed about for almost as long as she could remember


Marcel Jeanne

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Song of Release

At the start of the invasion I was six years old and we lived in St Martin. I was playing in the garden when an aeroplane passed overhead at a very fast speed and it was being shot at by a following plane. I was so frightened I ran into the house hitting my head badly on the door knob of the kitchen door. A few days later my father told us that a plane had fallen in a field at Maufant.

The next thing I remember was the German soldiers’ horses and carts in the road and in the farmyard of Les Vaux Farm and Brookvale Farm across the road. Then there was the building of bunkers in the cotils and chalet-style buildings on the flat land. These were for soldier’s accommodation.

An officer took two rooms at Brookvale Farm for himself. My father was told that we had to blacken the windows at night and everyone had to be inside their houses by 10pm. As I grew older and time went by, I heard of gun batteries, mines, barbed wire, and bunkers being erected around the island.

The top German commander took over Victoria College [1] as the German HQ. I felt it was like the Jersey people were being imprisoned by the Germans. When we were liberated it was a great relief. I remember a song was written for the children to sing. It was called ’Our Song of Release’. I went down with all my family to the celebrations on 9 May and was there outside the Pomme d’Or Hotel. There was a huge crowd and a lot of noise. I was now 11 and I was very glad it was all over.


Derek Le Cocq

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During the Occupation, Derek and his mother lived with his grandmother and two aunts at Beechwood, La Rocque. Derek vividly remembers when La Rocque was bombed on 28 June, 1940. It was early evening and he was limpeting for the cats with his mother and aunt Susan in the rocks at the bottom of the long slip. He tells the story.

"We saw the first planes fly over and I remember my mother, dressed in a pink cardigan, standing on a rock and waving thinking it was the RAF. A second group of planes came along, flying quite low. By this time we were in the rocks at the bottom of the long slip. One bomb landed at the top of the slip in the road, killing three people.

Hid in rocks

"We hid in the rocks, Mum and Aunty on top of me to protect me. Then the second bomb landed at the bottom of the slip blowing sand and mud everywhere. Fortunately, it didn’t go off and as soon as the planes had passed over, Mum and Aunty grabbed me and propelled me up the beach towards the steps and into the house. Much later I found a crater on the left-hand side at the bottom of the slip which was still there after the war."

The second bombing incident Derek remembers was in 1944. One morning he was looking out of his bedroom window when he saw a strange looking aircraft coming from the south-east up the main La Rocque gutter. Derek picks up the story.

"Plat Rocque House, and the nearby Conway tower, were defence positions. I saw what I now know to be an American P38 Lightning fighter bomber dropping two bombs at Plat Rocque, one landed in the middle of La Rocque Harbour in the mud, but it didn’t go off. I believe it is still there today. The other landed in front of a house called Rockston, badly damaging some of the houses and a shop in the area. The Germans started firing back with their MG34 machine guns from the top of the tower and the high rate of the return fire made a tearing sound that reverberated all around.”

The final incident Derek recalls was when a Heinkel plane was shot down by the Germans in 1943. It crashed just past Brig-y-Don and the crew were killed. Derek recalls seeing the plane.

"I used to cycle to school on the inner road, but on this day, Colin Sutton and I took the coast road and saw the plane in the field burning away, with the ammunition exploding from the wreckage. On our way back home that afternoon the plane was still smouldering and popping and we peeped through the hedge to get a better view. I remember a piece of shrapnel pinged on the spokes of my bike and then the hot piece of metal bounced into the road. We took that as our cue to cycle back home."  


Barry Fossey

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German soldier's pistol

On 28 June 1940 Barry Fossey was six years old and can still recall seeing aircraft and hearing the sound of explosions in the harbour before his father grabbed him and his sister and took them under cover at their home, Lyndale. He remembers the troop carriers flying overhead as the occupying forces were ferried in.

As farmers, the family were able to avoid the deprivations of town dwellers, but the Germans kept a very close eye on them. All their animals were recorded and had to be accounted for on a regular basis. Occasionally his father would be ordered to take a chicken to the parish hall to supplement the German rations. At threshing time, which was overseen by soldiers, all the full sacks were counted, but it was sometimes possible to divert their attention long enough to spirit a sack of grain away into hiding.

When in St Helier, Barry and his mother would always step off the pavement to allow German officers to pass. The population had been warned that they must not obstruct the occupying forces in any way. Despite living under their total control, Barry feels no animosity. Most of the soldiers in the Island were a long way from the battle-hardened troops that fought on the continent and some, especially during the final years of Occupation, became objects of pity rather than scorn.

One soldier who visited the farm discovered, in a back room, a wall map of Europe on which Barry’s father had marked those German cities which, according to the reports on his crystal radioset, had been bombed by the allies. One was the home town of the German soldier who had not heard from his family in many months. Instead of ripping down the map and reporting it, the soldier broke down and wept before their eyes.

Later during the Occupation, Barry’s father passed a spot where a soldier had been sleeping in the hedge, possibly as a result of over-indulgence. Amazingly the soldier had left behind his pistol, which Barry’s father picked up and took home. One can imagine what would have happened if he had been caught. Barry, who is familiar with firearms and has all the necessary permits, has the Polish Radom pistol to this day locked up in a secure place.

In the years immediately before the war, a young German had worked on Barry’s farm for a while and one day, while in town after the Germans had landed, Barry saw the man and his mother spoke to him. Apparently he was now acting for the occupation forces as an interpreter. One can only speculate but it is possible that this man had been part of a covert pre-war surveillance program to gather information about the island, a spy in fact. Who can say?

Roselle Green, nee Le Breton

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Although they lived in St Helier, Roselle and her brother, Brian, spent a lot of time staying with their uncle and aunt, Henry and Flo de La Haye, at Homestill, Rue de la Petite Falaise. Aunty Flo worked for Mrs Sybil Luce at Trinity Post Office, where her husband, Percy, was the village baker, who delivered bread over a wide area, as well as, in this spare time, being a long serving organist at Ebenezer Chapel.

Roselle and Brian would often accompany Flo and they would meet the Luce children, David and Sybil. Roselle remembers going with them to Rockmount (where Mr and Mrs Becquet subsequently lived, and playing in what was then an empty house -the Germans having ripped it apart, burning all the wood so that it was acomplete shell, but otherwise a good place to play.

Mrs Luce had a nephew, Graham Colback, who could swim, but not very strongly. During the Occupation, Islanders were forbidden from going on to Rozel Harbour, which was guarded by German soldiers. One summer’s day, Graham was swimming out in the bay and heading out to sea when he suddenly started yelling “I can’t turn! I can’t turn!” Roselle was watching and quickly alerted the German sentries who broke their rules and allowed Graham up the steps and back on to the pier.

There was also an occasion when Roselle and her friend, Shirley Assinder, were allowed, as a treat, to take her new baby cousin, Rosemary Le Breton, out for a walk in her pram. The baby was then only about three months old and ‘very special’. On a narrow bit of pavement they met a German soldier who let them pass but, when they had passed, called out to them. Being good girls, they thought they shouldn’t talk to him, but he kept on calling. In the end, they did look around to see what he wanted. He was holding up the baby’s blanket which had dropped from the pram and they had to thank him very much.

On Liberation Day, Roselle, Brian and their parents walked up the steps in Pier Road to Fort Regent where, from the grassy verge, they could look down to see the German soldiers being boarded on to the landing craft for their journey to England. It was then down to the area in front of the Pomme d'Or Hotel where they were pulled up on to a lorry already crowded with jubilant Islanders – a day Roselle will never forget  

Joyce Haines, nee de Caux

Charing Cross in 1940, nearly deserted when few locals had reason to venture to town
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Joyce lived throughout the Occupation at the junction of Rue de la Falaise and Rue des Bouillons. Her father worked on a farm nearby and the family grew their own vegetables and kept a few chickens, which meant that Joyce has no memory of the sort of deprivation endured by some town dwellers,especially during 1944 and 45. On Thursdays, she recalls, there were little treats that used to attract several of her friends from Trinity Primary School on a regular basis.

She has vivid memories of going to St Ouen, riding on the crossbar of a bicycle ridden by her father. The purpose was to collect a leg of pork for Christmas dinner, which she had to conceal from German patrols on the return journey by gripping it between her knees and covering her legs with a blanket.

Joyce was taught to speak German at school, by Miss White, and discovered that she was able to pick up the language quite quickly. When German inspectors visited she was often chosen to recite poems to them in German, but deliberately stumbled over many of the words in protest.

She remembers the thrill of receiving Red Cross parcels containing little delicacies that she had never seen or tasted before. The tins of food had to be hidden from the German soldiers billeted at La Profonde Rue who, by the end, were malnourished and desperate.

Joyce recalls going to St Helier on Liberation Day with her friend, Edna Gibaut, and walking all the way back home afterwards


Lawrence de Gruchy

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For ten-year-old Lawrence de Gruchy, the writing was on the wall for the Occupation from the time of the invasion of France. The waves of aircraft passing over and past Jersey on their way to France, some of them dropping “chaff” – strips of tinsel – to confuse any embryonic German radar, were a clear indication that things had taken a turn.

Living in the country as they did, food had been less of a problem during the Occupation than for the inhabitants of town. Lawrence’s house had a big garden, where his father could grow potatoes, carrots, parsnips, strawberries and apples, and he recalls the Gallichans gave them a pint of milk every day for the children. And then there was the paradox of Jersey animal husbandry. For some reason when the Germans came round to keep count they found no sow in Jersey had ever had more than eight piglets – a phenomenon known nowhere else.

Lawrence recalls getting the news about the forthcoming Liberation from his father. He worked in Bisson’s bicycle shop in Halkett Place and was friendly with a lot of people as a result of servicing their bikes. The news reached him via customers who had heard the news on illegal crystal sets. Lawrence learned that 11 am on 8 May 1945 was to be the time of the Armistice and he walked into town. He recalls the Royal Square was ‘standing room only’. The States Building had two loudspeakers mounted on it to carry Churchill’s historic words, broadcast live by the BBC. Islanders responded with an explosion of joy and emotion when they heard him say: ‘And our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today’. The Germans, who were still nominally in charge, did nothing to prevent this.

Lawrence walked into town the next day as well. Luckily for him he was allowed on to the roof of a building – a States building at that time, he recalls – opposite the corner of the Pomme d'Or Hotel. From there he had a grandstand view of the troops arriving and the flag-raising. He also saw German PoWs, who had been rounded up and were being held at the Albert Pier – behind their own barbed wire. Afterwards he walked back home via Westmount, where he got a grandstand view of the allied troops and vehicles disembarking.

Cars came out of hiding on Liberation Day, and even some lorries. Lawrence’s father had a motor bike that emerged at the same time. And clearly the creativity employed in hiding the vehicles had extended to concealing petrol for them as well.

Food supplies improved almost immediately, although moving from home-baked flour straight to white bread was a strange transition. Lawrence also recalls that the changeover from Reichsmarks back to Sterling happened quite quickly


Faith Herbert, nee Stevens

Queuing for pet food at the Animal Shelter, where Faith lived with her parents

Faith Herbert got a grandstand view of Liberation in St Helier from her perch behind where she lived.

Animal Shelter

Faith was born and brought up at the Animal Shelter on St Saviour’s Road where her father was the manager. There is a cotil behind which leads up in the direction of Victoria College. On 9 May1945, at the age of 10, she and her family walked up the cotil and saw the Union Flags gradually going up all over St Helier.

On the 10th or 11th, she cannot recall exactly which, she joined her friends and their mother at the Abattoir. Tommies were still coming ashore throwing sweets, there were still crowds and she briefly got detached from the group and lost.

In the summer of 1945 her father, who was a lay preacher and who had also staged shows during the Occupation, organised a show at the Opera House. There British soldiers taught her a new dance - the Hokey Cokey.

Towards the end of the Occupation she recalls young German soldiers shooting errant cats and dogs for food. That put her in mind of the start of the Occupation when her father had to put down some 4,000 dogs as people abandoned them on leaving the Island. There was no time to use anaesthetic, and anyway, one assumes that supplies were being conserved for human use, and so they had to be shot.

Faith attended Girls’ College, initially at its old site in Rouge Bouillon and then, when it was taken over as a hospital, it moved to Coie Hall in Janvrin Road (now flats) and then finally Victoria College Prep until it could return to its own home. Faith then became a teacher and taught in a States primary school for her entire career.




Lil Chevalier, nee Le Maistre

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German soldiers at St Aubin in 1942. Lil Chevalier found the occupying troops 'polite and well behaved'

"I was nine years old when the Occupation started. I lived at Les Pres Manor in Grouville and I attended the Girls Collegiate in Colomberie with about 50 pupils. I had to walk there and back every day. I loved school. I remember the teachers very well; there was a Miss Hoskins, Miss Le Feuvre, Miss Clough and a Miss Hunt. We finished school at 1pm as in the winter there was no heating and it was cold and also, we had a long way to walk home. I would walk with my friends the long way back along the coast road as they lived at La Rocque. We still had homework to do when wearrived home.

We had a lane to the side of our house that avoided going up and over the hill and the German soldiers and horses used it a lot. One day they were going through and me and my older sister, Vera, were terrified as our Dad was listening to the radio for the British news, and he had the window open. He had handed in our best radio but kept the older electric one. Vera would take down the news in shorthand, transcribe it and then dad would take it around to good friends in the parish. We made him put the radio in its hiding place which was behind the big dog box in front of a cupboard.

I remember hearing that Hitler had sent the best of the German soldiers to the Channel Islands and I always found them to be extremely polite and well behaved. At Liberation I was 14 and on May, the day the war actually ended, I went with my mum to the Royal Square. We walked there and back and the square was crowded with people celebrating, we were very happy. Everything changed after the Occupation, but gradually. There were more goods inthe shops, but there was rationing for a while. But there was no more curfew and the young people could go out more.


Len and Eileen du Feu, nee de Gruchy

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Len was 15 years old when the Germans arrived and the stark realisation that life was about to change began to sink in during a rare trip into town. He was sent to see Dr Gow in Clarendon Road as two of his fingernails had been wrenched off while loading potatoes, and as he passed the Royal Hotel, he noticed a guard on sentry duty on the steps. As a lively teenager, the impending restrictions often got him into trouble, with at least three scrapes with the German authorities

The first was on 20 April 1943, when curfew was extended for an hour for ‘the loyal population to go to St Helier to listen to the band’. Len and Charlie Ahier enjoyed the extra hour of curfew in the company of Eileen and Dulcie de Gruchy at St Catherine. Just before the agreed extended curfew, they came out of the lane at the top of St Catherine’s Hill straight into a patrol who were not aware of the extra hour rule. Len and Charlie were duly marched to Rozel Mill and spent the night sitting on a box of ammunition in the guardroom. They were allowed to leave the next morning, but without their ID cards, which were returned by Centenier Le Marquand at Trinity Parish Hall the following day.

A few nights later, again while cycling back from St Catherine by St Martin’s Arsenal, a little too fast, Len was stopped by the same patrol and marched to Bouley Bay Lodge, with one officer in front and two behind who uttered ‘Raus, Raus’ when they passed Les Noyers and Len indicated that he lived there. He was ‘ticked off’ by an officer who spoke perfect English and sent him on his way. By this time curfew had gone and with another guard to pass at Profonde Rue on his way home, Len was pleased to be given the password for the evening ‘Berne’.

The third occasion was when he bumped into another patrol close to Trinity main road cycling home, once again at quite a pace. The officer took his ID card and told him to report to the Brabant Headquarters of the Feld Gendarmerie the following morning, which was a Sunday. When he turned up, all the officers were asleep, but soon awoke to issue the 8 mark fine.

Len’s most touching occupation story, however, is one of the well-spoken, young German officer the same age as Len at the time – around 18 – who visited the farm at Les Noyers following reports of a light showing. It became clear the officer wanted to stay and engage in conversation. Len’s father told him “we’re on opposite sides, we can’t entertain you’, to which the officer clicked his heels and left. It was only a couple of nights later when Len met the young officer again as he cycled past St Martin’s Arsenal and was told “don’t be late tonight, we’ve got some manoeuvres on.”

Len wishes he could have met the officer again under different circumstances to thank him for his kindness. Eileen recalls Liberation Day when she and Len cycled to town and left their bikes in Beach Road at Stan Le Ruez’s house. They walked to the New North Quay and saw the boat going out with the Bailiff, Attorney-General and German Commandant on board to sign the agreement.

Another ship was anchored in the bay and the Tommies soon spilled out into LiberationSquare. Eileen recalls an English officer with a load ofnewspapers under his arm, which were gone in no time! Eileen and Len then fetched their bikes and cycled up Trinity Hill dropping into Bel Respiro, the home of Reg Mourant, on their way home.


Neville Ahier

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"When the Occupation started my Dad had two guns. He spent ages greasing them so they wouldn’t rust and wrapping them up in sacks before burying them in a little patch in the front of Ville es Normans, where we lived. When it was allover, could we find them? We never did in the end.

"My old mum used to put a few spuds out so that the slave workers could come and eat them. They used to eat them that quick as they were starving, but it got too dangerous so she had to stop doing it that way. We would see groups of German soldiers marching past the house. We used to take broom handles and goose-step behind them. We would go to the meadow near where Pallots is now, as there was an anti-aircraft gun there.

"They weren’t all bad the Germans, they used to carry soup in a cart, that’s how they would feed the soldiers near us. One time a solider offered us some of their soup. I remember that I took some and it was good soup, too. Our school was with Mrs Coutanche at Sion. I hardly spoke any English as it was and of course twice a week we all had to learn German. I can only remember a couple of words now.

"I remember Liberation Day well. We went down to the harbour in the horse and van and there were so many people there. The troops were throwing out sweets and chocolates and I caught one. It tasted good! The day after we were liberated we went to look in the bunker just in the field near home. The door was left open and we went in. There was stuff everywhere, guns and all that kind of thing. We could have taken anything, us kids. But when we told our Dad, did he go mad;, he was worried it could have been surrounded by mines, you see."


Dulcie Ahier, nee de Gruchy

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Many families had hidden crystal radios to keep up with the progress of the war

"At the start of the Occupation the Germans took over Wrentham Hall, in St Martin, and another big house behind our farm which was in between them. Then they wanted the farm. So we moved to Glenvale (now Flag House). There was my father, mother, my sister and me and I was 16 years old. One day we heard hobnail boots coming up the path and my father was listening to the radio. We were very frightened. My father hurriedly hid the radio away under the floorboards and covered it with a rug. The Germans knocked at the door, but they were just lost and all they wanted to know was how to get back to the farm which they had put us out of.

"Another time, before the D-Day landings I think, we could go on the beach, which was before they put up the barbed wire. We saw shoals of whitebait, and with them were mackerel and snipe, and there were hundreds and hundreds of them. The sea was absolutely seething, it was absolutely magical. Everyone was in the water catching them to eat later and to give some to family and friends.

"On Liberation day my fiancé and I went down to the area in front of the Pomme d’Or Hotel. We saw the British soldiers throwing sweets and fruit and saw the Union Jack raised. We met some other young friends and afterwards walked home together. I had to take my shoes off as my feet were so sore, but I was so full of elation, it was a wonderful day."



Philippa Bertram, nee De La Haye

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"When the Occupation started I was three and when it finished I was eight. My daddy took me to what is now Liberation Square on 9 May and we first stood near the Jersey Museum. Dad had me on his shoulders and kept telling me to kiss the Tommies as they were coming down the steps from Pier Road.

"One time he bent down and one of the soldier’s helmets cut him very badly on his forehead. Then we went in front of the Pomme d’Or Hotel and the soldiers were throwing sweets and cigarettes and I picked up loads, my pockets were bulging. Afterwards we walked back home to Sion. My mother who had MS and my little three-year old sister and one-year old brother hadn’t come with us.

"The next day my friend, Sonia, and I went back to St Helier with our autograph books and some soldiers were sat on the sea wall. They wrote in our books and made some little drawings. When we got home our parents were standing in the road shouting at us. We hadn’t told them where we were going and they were very worried about us. We really copped it. There was a real sense of elation in the Island and I remember it as a really exciting time ".



Mazel Boleat, nee Le Gresley

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We moved to Clear View in Trinity in January 1944 from Chestnut Lea. Sleeping with my Grandma, we would hear the Germans passing the house with horses and drays. I don’t know where they were going at 7am.

Cousins would come to see us and we would run around the house into the road and back to the back yard. One time my brother Frederick came up the path into the road straight into a pack of German cyclists, and they all went flying. We would cycle to my other grandfather at La Tenue, in St Mary, through the lanes. Coming back was so frightening with all the barbed wire barriers on Mont Gavey, where we would have to show our identity cards.

On Liberation Day we walked with my grandmother to West Park to see the Tommies and the boats that came to liberate us. That was a day to remember! It was the first time we had seen oranges and sweets





Bernard Vautier, Egypt Farm

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Egypt Farm 19th century watercolour

A watercolour painting of Egypt Farm from 1889, even allowing for artistic licence, shows a substantial series of buildings on the site. Few properties in the Island can boast the exceptional seclusion and setting of the place but, alas, neither can Egypt Farm these days because it essentially no longer exists save for a few overgrown ruins.

During the war it was occupied by Bernard Vautier, his six siblings and his parents. Bernard’s family ran a baker's and grocery shop at the bottom of Mulcaster Street.

On 30 June 1940 Luftwaffe aircraft appeared over St Helier and bombed the harbour area, one bomb landing outside the shop and completely destroying the façade. The Constable of Trinity at the time, Snowdon Benest, knew of the family’s plight and was also aware that Egypt Farm had been abandoned by the owners, who had fled to England. It was agreed that the family should move into the farm and pay for all stock and equipment which had been valued by Maillards.

And so a grocer became a farmer. After a couple of years, despite the very fine architecture of the farmhouse and outbuildings, the occupying German forces chose to use it for target practice for their guns at Les Platons. This meant that the Vautiers had to evacuate.They may well have had some warning, but in the event they were given one hour notice to get out. Bernard’s mother was frantic with most of the children running wild in the woods at the time.

Bernard’s father, apparently not a man given to quiet subservience, declared that the Germans were not going to get his lorry and tractor and when they left, he drove the vehicles a short distance from the farm to a place overlooking a small ravine that went down towards Petit Port.

There he first put the lorry on the edge, then he put it in gear and jumped out. Next came the tractor. Both went crashing through the bushes fifty feet below. Back at the farm, when the Germans arrived to evict them, he brought out under a blanket his crystal set radio and calmed his wife, already beside herself with worry having just managed to find all the children, with words quite incomprehensible to the watching Germans.

The family was moved to Ville Machon on the Rozel road. The Germans then started to pound the site at Egypt with their artillery and use it as a training site for urban combat. The remaining ruins speak of a splendid former glory with even the pig sties exhibiting quite marvellous stonework around the entrances. Few pigs ever lived in more salubrious circumstances.

Down in the woods just below the ravine there is still a small reminder of Mr Vautier’s stubborn refusal to be intimidated by the occupying forces. Tangled up in the undergrowth, it is still just possible to see rusting panels of what used to be one of the sides of the lorry, a fading relic of occupation. It was not uncommon during the immediate post war years to come across unexploded shells in the fields around.


Marlene Vautier, nee Laurent

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Marlene Vautier remembers the first time she saw German soldiers marching along the road past their home, Commercial House, which stood where the Trinity Arms is now situated. They went on to occupy a number of houses in the parish - Bouley Bay Lodge, La Profonde Rue, La Rosiere and Ivy Farm, now called Maison Maret, which became a military hospital

As children, Marlene and her friends played right under the noses of the occupiers but were untroubled by them. When he wasn’t looking, they even mimicked the rather short and rotund German commandant who led marching practice along Profonde Rue.

When the family moved to Maison du Haut, Marlene and twin-sister Pam joined the Church choir, which they loved, going to and from practice in the dark winter nights. Later they were forbidden to use the Church for practice and went instead to Belwood Farm, but the walks were longer and more scary, although they were never bothered by anyone.

Life was hard and there was always plenty to do to put food on the plate. Marlene’s parents worked on various farms in the parish and so had rather more access to food than the unfortunate town dwellers. Her father grew vegetables and Marlene recalls, with no great pleasure, how when their milk soured, her mother would stir some sugar beet syrup into it and serve it as dessert. Salt was valuable as a preservative and the children had to bring seawater up from Bouley Bay in cans to be boiled down. At other times they would walk the fields after harvest and glean the dropped grain which was ground in a coffee grinder to make flour.

After the D-Day landings it became clear that time was running out for the occupying forces. Things actually got harder as supplies for the Germans began to dry up and even the small quantities of flour from the gleaning would be confiscated if they were unlucky enough to meet a German patrol.

Then Marlene clearly recalls a sense of “something’s going to happen” when it became clear that the Germans at Bouley Bay Lodge and at other sites in the parish were gathering their equipment together. The rumour was that they were going home, although some worried whether there was going to be a home to go back to. Marlene didn’t go into town on Liberation Day; however, she is sure she could hear the commotion as far as Trinity.


Michael Vautier

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A Vautier family gas mask

During the Occupation Michael Vautier lived with his parents on a remote farm, La Vallette,situated on the southernside of Le Mourier Valley. They had no gas, no electricity, no running water and no indoor sanitation, so when services were curtailed during the Occupation, there was no impact on the household.

His father’s main aim, living under the new severely restricted regime, was to provide for his immediate family, the extended family and some close friends. All these people who shared, to a greater or lesser extent, in the farm produce would give what help they could, especially at planting and harvest times. From the child’s perspective it was a time of close family and community spirit, even to the extent that Michael recalls it as having a ‘party atmosphere’ much of the time, especially when the curfew resulted in guests staying overnight.

He has only very happy memories of those times, although he readily admits that for his parents, things would have looked very different, but he was never made aware of their anxieties and fears.

Sorel Point

German troops were stationed close by at Sorel Point and Devil’s Hole and the track connecting the two locations passed straight through the farmyard. German soldiers were a constant sight, but Michael never felt threatened by them. More worrying were the Russian prisoners from Ronez Quarry, from where stone was taken by railway to construct the coastal fortifications across the Island. The slave workers were worked beyond endurance and beaten daily. Rather than receiving food, they were let out of their camp at night to scavenge across the countryside for whatever they could steal. Michael’s mother would secretly leave several glasses of milk in the farm buildings every night for regular visitors.

One of them had about him a certain dignity and calm, despite his desperate circumstances, and by sign language alone commanded respect and confidence. He was obviously an intelligent and educated man. By a series of gestures, he indicated to the family that he had the skill to work silver. He measured Michael’s mother’s finger with a strand of straw and persuaded her to give him a florin (a two-shilling piece worth 10p today) which in those days had an appreciable amount of silver in its composition. A few days later he returned with a ring which he had fashioned out of the coin. He did the same for other members of the family. Michael still has his ring to this day. Soon afterwards, however, the man stopped coming.

We are used, nowadays, to accepting, nay expecting, that tomorrow will be better than today. That the world will become, each day, a better place than it was the day before. Not so under the Occupation. ‘Things went backwards’,said Michael. Each year there was less. There was no fuel so horsepower once again became the motive force. Clothes were patched and mended. Wooden sabots replaced shoes. Trees were felled for fuel. Barter replaced the cash economy. Close friendships persisted and family ties strengthened, but the fear of collaborators and spies together with the curtailment of mobility meant that the social world outside the family shrank away.

A Russian slave worker's skill turned a florin into a silver ring

Children protected from reality

Parents tried to protect their children from the harsh realities and comforted them with promises that one day things would be different. Mrs Follain, who lived in Michael’s grandmother’s house at Grantez, told her son that one day an aeroplane would come and bring chocolates and on 14 June 1944, it seemed as if this promise was to be fulfilled. The boy, in his garden, saw what Michael had also seen as he was on his way to school. An aircraft was heading towards Grantez and looking as if it would land. The boy ran into the house to give the good news to his mother. who ran out with him to see what was happening.

What the boy had failed to register, but what Michael now standing on a hedge-top and straining to see and the boy’s mother could clearly discern, was that the aircraft, an RAF Typhoon, was on fire and out of control. They stood and watched as it ploughed into the house they had just come out of, destroying it completely. The Belgian pilot was Squadron Leader Henri Alphonse Clement Gonay, DFC, shot down by German flak. He had joined the RAF in 1940 and served with 235 Squadron during the Battle of Britain. Later a road was named after him in St Ouen.

Michael’s father had a fine two-wheeled trap and a lovely grey mare Cocotte to pull it. His parents would use it to go into St Helier to secretly take produce for family and friends. On one occasion they encountered a checkpoint and feared that the eggs, butter and pork they were carrying would get them into serious trouble, so before reaching the roadblock they turned around and returned home.

The next morning German officers. together with the parish Constable, arrived at the farm to ask why he had turned away from the checkpoint and hurried away. An explanation which included a busy farmer’s disinclination to spend his day in a queue was not well received and his treasured Cocotte was commandeered and replaced with Gerry a malnourished and tired German horse to work on the farm. It was some months before poor Gerry was in any fit state to do any work at all.

Recharging batteries

April 1945 saw a growing awareness of Liberation. It was well known through the use of illicit crystal sets what was happening on the European mainland. Michael’s father had one such set which was powered by batteries. One of the weekly chores for Michael and his sister was to take a hand cart a couple of miles to a neighbouring farm to have the batteries recharged. The cart had a false bottom and the two collected dandelion leaves and suchlike along the way to put in the cart so that, if stopped by a German patrol, they could say they were collecting fodder for their rabbits, which all farms kept as a food supplement.

When 9 May dawned, Michael’s father was up early to milk and bring fodder to the animals which were kept close to the house for security reasons. Gerry was, some whatironically, gaily decorated with red, white and blue ribbons before being harnessed to takethe family to town while the family alsatian dog was left to guard the farm. They joined crowds who had poured out on to the streets to greet the British liberators.

Sometime later in the day, Michael and his mother were astonished to see, smartly dressed and looking well, the Russian ring-maker who had visited their farm and whom they had assumed was now dead. He had found refuge and remained hidden and looked after in someone’s home for many months. He embraced Michael’s mother and spoke a few words of thanks before merging back into the crowd once more.

Upon returning to the farm in the evening, they found that, despite leaving the dog on guard, the house had been broken into and a great deal of their food had been stolen. For children of a certain age at that time, the Occupation, with its restrictions and deprivations; the constant presence of armed soldiers and brutally treated slave workers; the whispers, nods and winks of mysterious adult communications, had been a normal way of life.


Tony Barnett, deportee

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The camp was liberated on 28 April 1945

One of those deported from Jersey during the Occupation was Tony Barnett, of Rue de la Lande, Trinity. Although he has lived in the parish with his wife, Doreen, for over 14 years, his childhood home was in St Clement, where his parents, John and Esther, ran a grocery store.

The news that the family had to leave the Island came as quite a shock for Tony, who was just seven years old at the time. ‘My whole world turned upside down,’ he said. ‘I asked a lot of questions. What had I done wrong? Where were they taking us? What was to become of the house, the shop the family ran and our lives?

Sister marries

"My parents could not say. My dad took charge, suggesting that my sister, Barbara, who was 19, should marry her Jersey-born fiancé, Dennis Poignand, to avoid deportation. The arrangements were speedily made with the wedding taking place the next day at St Clement’s parish church. This enabled Barbara and her husband to stay in the family house and to ensure it remained safe.

"There was little time for Tony and his parents to pack for their journey, although orders stated that they should dress in warm clothes and strong boots, and there was no time to say goodbye properly to loved ones. Tony says he vividly remembers standing on the Albert Pier waiting for deportation.

"We stood there for a long time. We lined up to be counted, as the German officials liked to do that over and over again. My dad was worried that there were still four of us on the deportation list, so he stepped sideways during one of the head counts and it must have worked, as they never asked where my sister was. But we knew where she was and when we looked up to the walkway where there was a large crowd of anxious friends and relatives, she was waving and blowing kisses, with tears streaming. She mimed to me that my dog would be OK and it was a comfort to know that.

To Germany

"Once we had boarded, all we knew was that we were on our way to Germany. My parents put on a brave face, but we had very little privacy, not much to drink and we were worried sick about what awaited us at the end of the journey. Three days later, travelling by train, we arrived at Biberach camp and it was worse than we feared. It stood at the top of a hill which we climbed with heavy hearts. It was a military camp with long huts, lots of barbed wire, turrets and fearsome-looking guards. There were soldiers everywhere. It was over-powering and I hated every minute of it.

"We were there for six weeks then moved to Wurzach. The building there looked nice from the outside, but inside it was filthy, and my mother despaired at the conditions we were expected to live in. Although then a dirty prison camp, the 18th century baroque castle had undoubtedly once been a grand residence with its features including a curved, white marble staircase overlooked by a ceiling painted with elaborate frescoes."

Tony recalls that there were around 600 deportees housed in the building. The men and boys over 12 went in one section and girls and younger boys went with their mothers in another. Five mothers and their children shared Tony’s room, sleeping on straw mattresses in bunk beds.

"It was hard at first as there was a lack of food, just soup and black bread served twice a day. It was wheeled round on a hand-cart by a lady we nicknamed Siegfried Annie. You can imagine how happy we were when we received Red Cross parcels with things like Klim milk and tins of spam. We were also sent exercise books as we were able to have schooling arranged by internees who had been teachers. I was able to get together with the other children, but at curfew time we had to return to our rooms.

Horrible guards

"The guards on arrival were horrible, hardened Nazis, but when they were sent to the front-line, their replacements were far kinder. They allowed us out and accompanied us on walks to the nearby hills and forest and to the neighbouring town. The people there were friendly and helpful and most of them did not want war. The guards were also apologetic when we were liberated and shook hands with all their prisoners."

Tony described the countryside as beautiful, saying that he loved the changing seasons, especially winter when people travelled on sleighs over the snow. Freedom for the deportees came on 28 April 1945 in the form of the Free French 2nd Armoured Division who tore down the perimeter fencing.

"We were lucky because they initially didn’t realise it was a prisoner-of-war camp. They thought it was a German stronghold and were going to blast it down."

Journey home

The journey home was arranged around a month later with the family travelling in an American, open-topped lorry to a Dakota troop-carrier plane heading for England.

"It was thefirst time I had flown. I was hospitalised when we arrived in the UK as I was suffering from malnourishment. After that, we stayed for a while with my mum’s sister in Salisbury before returning to Jersey on the mailboat."

The family went on to move from St Clement to the shop and post office across the road from Grouville Parish church. Four further moves followed for Tony before settling in his present home at Trinity.

"I love it here and have no plans to move again," he said.

Over the years, he has made several return visits to Biberach and Bad Wurzach, including for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the internment camp, accompanied by his wife, four children and three-year-old grandson. It has also been an opportunity to pay respect to the Islanders who did not make it back and whose graves are in the cemetery at Wurzach, now known as Bad Wurzach to denote its role as a spa town. They include Tony’s friend, Raymond Gould, who died there, aged just ten. Tony has also seen the camp building transformed back to its original glory, now used as a home for the elderly, a training college, and a therapy centre.

The 1,186 people deported from Jersey to Germany during World War Two are remembered with several memorials in the Island, including a plaque on the Albert Pier, and in a spirit of reconciliation, freedom and friendship, St Helier twinned with Bad Wurzach in 2002


Irene Ahier, nee Nicholas

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A Christmas party in Stockport for evacuated Channel Island children

Having been evacuated to the UK, Irene Ahier was unable to join in with the Liberation Day celebrations in St Helier. She made up for it afterwards, celebrating the Liberation anniversary with the choice of 9 May as the date for her wedding to Bert Ahier in 1952. That was the year that Irene and Bert moved to Le Douet, Trinity, where they brought up their three children -two daughters and a son.

As a child, Irene lived at First Tower and was eight years old when war broke out. She recalls that her mother Agnes, known as Queenie, received a telegram, stating that her father, Albert Nicholas, who was serving in the army fighting in France, was missing. He was presumed killed, just before the fall of Dunkirk. Fortunately, Irene’s father spoke excellent French and had made his way, along with a handful of troops to Cherbourg, where a small fishing boat took them to England. Irene’s father sent a postcard to her mother stating he was safe and well and suggesting that maybe they should evacuate to England.

Irene explains that her uncle, Peter Freeley, had also been fighting in France and was evacuated from Dunkirk to England. He then took compassionate leave to return to Jersey to organise the evacuation of his wife Eileen and son Paddy and Irene’s maternal grandmother. Irene added, ’He also helped us as we didn’t have the required papers, managing to get us on board the Brittany coal boat to Weymouth.

We initially all lived in Stockport, where a Quaker family took us under their wing. They were very kind. They found us a house, scrounged some furniture and gave us some clothes as we brought very little with us in our suitcases from Jersey. We did not stay long, about a year, as the bombing was horrendous, and my uncle, who was being deployed overseas, wanted the reassurance, along with my father, to move us to a more peaceful environment.

It was decided that we would join my other aunt, Nora, who had been evacuated to Wakefield in Yorkshire. There were no air raids to contend with and there was a good supply of food, especially fresh vegetables from the neighbouring farms. We shared a house with her and her seven children, so we were never lonely or short of playmates, especially as my mother, to earn some extra money, worked in the Avro Aviation Factory making Lancaster Bombers’.

‘My grandmother, who looked after us, ruled us with a rod of iron, although she did have a soft spot for my cousin, Paddy Freeley, the youngest, who was only three.’ Irene adds that her mother drummed into her and her sisters that England was not their home - Jersey was - and when the war ended, they would all return there.

After VE Day, due to a mix-up obtaining the necessary permits, Irene, her sisters and mother and father, who was now demobbed, did not return to Jersey until September 1945. Irene remembers that it was very emotional sailing back on the mail boat. ’We were all on the deck as we approached the Island and I remember, as we rounded Corbiere, my mum bursting into tears and again when we reached the harbour, finally home

Maureen de Gruchy, nee Boustouler

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“In the summer of 1940, it became clear to Islanders that the Germans would invade us as they already controlled northern France. I had an older sister, Denzie, who had been diagnosed with cancer in 1938 and needed treatment in London. Instead of just my mother going with her, it was decided, in those uncertain times, we would all go

My father was a valet to a Russian Prince (George Chavchavadze) who lived in Jersey – a concert pianist – and he offered to pay for treatment for Denize. Travel arrangements were chaotic, with so many people trying to leave the Island before the Germans arrived. My father queued for two days for tickets and we finally left on a coal boat bound for Southampton. I remember lying on the floor of the hold and trying to sleep. As we could only take what we carried, my mother had dressed me in four dresses.

Treatment for nine-year old Denize was not successful and my parents headed north for Bolton, to my paternal grandparent’s home, where sadly Denize died. I often try to imagine the misery of those days for my parents, leaving their home behind, a dying child and two other children, aged four and three – and now in a vast (by Jersey standards) strange place. Not only that, my mother discovered she was pregnant again. My sister Gina was born in 1941.

We were billeted in a disused shop – 239 Derby Street. I had diphtheria not long after arriving and was in hospital for three months, having to learn to walk again afterwards. That aside, I do have fond memories of Bolton; it was where I started school and made my first communion. And it was where I made my first friends. The house next door was let to a Guernsey family and I became ‘best friends’ to this day with the daughter, Kathleen.

We used to see British Tommies out on manoeuvres in our back streets from time to time, and the occasional air raids. My father was unable to join up because he had TB in his foot, so he became an ambulance driver. He would often be called up on the moors behind the town, where a plane had crashed, or bombs had been dropped.

My parents often chatted about Jersey and the Channel Island Reunion meetings were held in various towns in the north. All this talk of beaches, weather, crops, family etc – how I longed to see it rather than hear about it. Occasionally Red Cross messages would be received, but the few lines they contained were so skimpy, it was nothing. Oh, the excitement of D-Day in 1944 – eight years old and I was sure we were on our way home.

But no. Then VE Day and VJ Day. Still in Bolton. After Liberation Day, parcels were allowed to be sent to the Islands. I do not know how my mother could afford it, but we regularly sent bits to Jersey; biscuits (still on ration), polish, matches and soap are among the things I distinctly remember going into those parcels. They had to weigh no more than 15lb. I can see my mother now at the GPO with her hand underneath the scales keeping them up so the true weight didn’t show.

We finally left Bolton on 15 September 1945 for London and spent two nights in Battersea before finally departing on the evening of the 17th, arriving in Jersey the following day. I was so excited; the sun was shining, and it was a glorious day. All my mother’s family was on the quay to greet us, together with loads of aunties, uncles and cousins. It was a changed Jersey for my parents though. All their furniture had been dispersed among family and friends, so it was a case of begging for a bed here, a chair there.

One has to remember that for five years, nothing had come into the Island. Still, we were pleased to be home

John Green

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Biberach

There are two very important dates imprinted on John Green’s mind; 16 September and 28 April - and he recalls why.

"It all started on the evening of 15 September 1942. We were all in bed, well after curfew time, when there was a very loud banging on our front door. A German soldier was there with our local Centenier. They handed my father a letter with instructions that the following day our whole family; father, mother and four children (the youngest only just three) were to be at the Weighbridge by 4pm when we were going to be sent to Germany. That gave us just 16 hours. We were told to take with us identity papers and for everyone, warm clothes, strong shoes, food for two days, meal dishes, drinking bowls and, if possible, a blanket – all of which we would have to carry ourselves.

"That in itself was a problem as our two youngest needed a lot of clothing, but they couldn’t really carry anything, in fact they needed a lot of carrying themselves. A lot could be said about our boat and rail journey– which took three days, not two – but eventually we arrived at our first camp at Biberach, which had been a former holiday camp for German youth, rather like Plemont, but much bigger.

"It was then taken over by the military as a prisoner-of-war camp for over 1,500 prisoners. At the beginning, there were 250 prisoners from Jersey and after about six weeks, that number grew to about 600. We were sent to another camp at Wurzach, a large building which had been used as a Catholic College before being a prisoner-of-war site. Although it was a very grand, dominant building in the centre of the little town, it was in a very dirty condition when we arrived. This was to be our home for the next two and a half years.

"There are a lot of tales which could be told about this period. When we got there we were on German rations only, largely potatoes, swede soup, rye bread and substitute coffee. If we had had to live on that for the rest of our time, I am not sure many of us would have survived, but by Christmas that year, the Red Cross found out we were there and parcels began to arrive and the food problems were eased.

One of our problems was that in the camp of 600 people, nearly 200 were children of school age. We had no teachers, no school books, no paper, nothing like that, and we had to do thebest we could to stop them running wild. Fortunately, the Red Cross were able to help, providing books, sports equipment, painting materials, music, including instruments, and scripts for plays – even exam papers, which I took advantage of.

Eventually, there was another date to be remembered – 28 April 1945. We had known for some time that the Allied troops were getting nearer – but the war was not yet over by any means. Most days we were seeing hundreds of bombers going over and we could hear the bombing too. On 27 April the Allies reached the village nearest us – about three miles away – and the local Home Guard, mainly Hitler Youth or Dad’s Army type soldiers, opened fire on them. The Allied tanks merely retired to the wood, opened fire on the village and flattened it.

The next day, the Allies (Free French) came on towards Wurzach. They did not know anything about our camp and at first their guns were all aimed at our building. But a group of our men went up the road to meet them carrying a large Union Jack they had manufactured somehow. The troops came on to the centre of the town, saw our camp, broke down the gates – and we were free: 12 day sbefore Jersey’s Liberation.

So now you will understand that two dates - 16 September and 28 April - are very important dates to me and probably all the other UK-born men and their families living in theChannel Islands who were deported and sent to German camps on the personal orders of Adolf Hitler.

Bill Hughes

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Bill Hughes is the last survivor of five British-born residents who lived in Trinity during the Occupation and were deported. He was sent to four different internment camps and spent time in Munich prison. Hitler first gave instructions for non-Island born British residents to be deported in 1941, but his orders were never carried out and it was not until September 1942 that Bill, his parents and many others, were given two hours notice to get to the Weighbridge.

They sailed to St Malo on the coal boat on 18 September 1942, boarded a train arriving in Germany in the early hours and slept in a barn for the night. The next morning they were deloused, stripped, shaved by Polish prisoners of war and taken to a camp in Biberach for married couples. Rumours soon went around that those family member sbetween the age of 17 and 50 would be separated. Despite reassurances from the person incharge of the camp that he would not be separated from his parents Bill, aged 17 and four days, was transferred to Laufen internment camp on the German-Austrian border on his father’s birthday.

He was the youngest of about 35 from Jersey who moved and they took Bill under their wing. Everyone had their chores to do, including being detailed under guard to collect the loaves of bread. On one occasion, following the RAF bombing of the factory, the loaves were resting on shards of glass, which also found their way into the bread. When two inmates from the Jersey group disappeared, the remainder were put in Munich Prison as punishment, ten people to one cell. There was no natural light, just a vent in the roof, and inmates were disoriented as evening meals were dished up at breakfast time to add to the confusion.

Liberated Laufen internees

The RAF were carrying out a series of raids on Munich and the explosions always happened at night.

Bill remembers George Parrott from St Ouen having his 21st birthday while in Munich prison and toasting his health with a glass of water from a cracked mug. Bill was released from prison and spent two months in Lieubenau camp, which was mostly inhabited by middle-aged and young ladies - British Red Cross nurses captured in Poland in1939. From there, he moved to Kreuzberg in northern Germany and then returned to Laufen.

Towards the end of the war, Bill remembers the relief of receiving the British Red Cross parcels, which came from Switzerland on German railways. He also recalls hearing the RAF bombing Obersaltzburg and feeling the vibrations of the bombs through the rock, despite it being 15km away.

At 3pm on 4 May 1945, Bill was liberated by the Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division, US Army, also known as the Band of Brothers. In Bill’s company were 12-14 senior allied officers who were related to dignitaries and the SS German soldiers were threatening to capture them. They had to remain in the safety of their camp for two to three days until the Americans eventually drove the SS away. Finally free, Bill and his fellow internees were examined and immunised by doctors, and interrogated for mistreatment. Having received a clean bill of health, Bill was deemed fit to return to England, and spent the next six weeks waiting to come home.

On 21 June 1945, he landed in Hendon in a Dakota in an old shirt and battledress trousers that were burnt in a furnace on his arrival. He was reclothed, fed and told that his parents, who he had not seen for four years, had been liberated from Biberach on 23 April by the Free French and were living with a cousin in Twickenham. He was taken to the station and recalls a Red Cross lady wishing him all the best, and remarking, “there goes another 40-year old disguised as a person of 20”. This comment has stuck with Bill as he realised that his experiences had added years to his life.

As he stood looking at the board of train times, he felt a heavy hand on his shoulder and was asked for his papers. It was the Military Police looking for deserters and, quickly realising who Bill was, they ushered him into a first-class carriage. Bill was reunited with his parents at Waterloo. He has lived every day as if it were a bonus day. No matter where he is, at 3pm on 4 May, he stops to think about the day he was liberated and remembers just how lucky he was

Jean Jeanne, nee Houguez

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"I was born in Trinity and was five-and-a-half when the Occupation began. My grandmother had nine children and my mother was one of the oldest and I was the eldest of her four children. I had a brother of four-and-a-half and two sisters, three-and-a-half, and six weeks. My grandmother called all the family together and they decided that to be safe we would all go to England, including the husbands. One of my aunties took my grandmother’s dog to the animal shelter to be put down as you were not allowed to take your pets.There was a huge queue of others doing the same.

We went to the harbour with only one suitcase per family. At the place where we arrived and went up the harbour steps,there is now a plaque to remember that time. We caught the last boat out of Jersey - it was a coal boat and we travelled in the hold. We left everything behind in our Jersey home, but my other grandfather moved everything to his house and put our belongings in his attic. One of my mum’s sisters missed the last boat and stayed in Jersey.

You should have seen the state of us when we got to Weymouth. We went by train to London and then on to Bolton. On the journey the Red Cross and the Salvation Army were wonderful, giving out milk for babies and food for children. On arrival they took our photographs outside the town hall. Then my family was given a house, sharing with another Jersey family. The Bolton people were fantastic; we were given furniture, kitchen equipment and clothes, everything we needed. My dad worked in a factory that made parts for the de Havilland aircraft. He was also an ARP warden in his spare time. We had to hide when the German planes flew over. It still gives me the shivers even now if I ever hear that siren.

We came back in September 1945 with another baby in our family. We retrieved all our belongings but couldn’t return to the same house as it was now rented by someone else, but it was just great to get home to Jersey


Eileen Simmons, nee Gallichan

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Eileen and Ilse

"During the Occupation my uncle, Howard Cabot, walked from his home Roche d'Or down to Bouley Bay to get sea water for distilling into salt. Salt was needed to preserve food, to make saline solutions for infections, etc. Karl Tross, the German soldier on guard duty at Bouley Bay, fetched the sea water for Howard. They spoke briefly in English. It was some ten years after the Liberation that Howard received a letter from Karl asking for a pen-friend for his 15-year-old daughter, Ilse, who was learning English at school.

I was interested to learn German and welcomed the idea of having a pen-friend – and so our friendship began, a close friendship which has continued for 65 years, over four generations, including exchange holidays. We corresponded for nine years before meeting one another when I holidayed in Germany in 1964, staying with Ilse in Asslar. She remembers her father talking about farming on the Island, especially the cultivation of the Jersey Royal.

As a prisoner of war, he worked on a farm/nursery near Nottingham. He learned more about agriculture and market gardening which he put into practise when he returned home to Asslar. He sold his cigarette ration to fellow prisoners of war, gave the money to the farmer's wife, who kindly parcelled up food and sweets and posted them to his family in Germany as they, too, were suffering the consequence of war.

The detailed journals he wrote are treasured by his family to this day. Nicole, Karl's grand-daughter, recently wrote ‘I think the time my grand-father spent in Jersey and England made a life lasting impression on him. He was not a farmer, he was an accountant, but he had a real passion for growing things and was very proud of his kitchen garden’”.

Arthur Le Grand

"Our parents set off to walk to La Pouquelaye to visit our uncle and aunt. I, aged eight, was left in the care of Jim and Harold, my older brothers and it was decided we would walk up to La Croix, where we met Cyril and Margaret, youngest son and daughter of Bert Ahier.

"Cyril already had a go-cart and now he had found the rear part of an old car that had completely bare wheels and with a ‘sort of driving shaft’ still attached. He had fitted this device with a wooden seat for two facing forwards and then room for two more kneeling at the rear.

"We made ready to go on an enjoyable ride - or so we thought. Jim and Harold sat on the front seat and Margaret and I knelt at the rear, forward-facing. Setting off down the slope of Rue Becq, we soon gained speed and at the bottom of the slope Cyril steered sharply to turn right on the corner near Shady Cottage with quite a noise from the bare iron wheels of the tow sliding over the tarmac.

"On the corner was one of our Sunday school teachers (either Lillian or Janet Godeaux) who seeing us coming and hearing all the noise, had leaped up the bank to hang on ‘for dear life’ with her feet well off the road.

"This was just as well (certainly for her and also for us all), as with the speed and the sudden steering to take the right-hand junction, the iron wheels of the tow slid over the smooth road until they came into contact with the bottom of the grass bank.

"If our teacher had not taken her desperate evasive action, the result of a collision could have meant quite serious injuries to her - and she knew each and every one of us.

"We continued along the road losing some speed, until we turned right at the end and then left, passing the entrance to Le Douet Farm, on down the quite steep slope of Rue de la Garenne, where we gathered speed again.

"Unfortunately, the tow shaft parted company from the go-cart when we were about half-way down and we continued only briefly without hindrance before the metal shaft suddenly veered sharply to the left and jammed itself into the hedge. My two brothers at the front kept their seat but Margaret and I were propelled quite sharply over them and landed safely on the road...uninjured.

"Meanwhile, Cyril driving the go-cart and completely unaware that he had lost his tow, continued on his travels until the road became a steep upward slope. Then, as he said later, he realised he was moving far too easily and glancing behind realised there was nobody there! We returned to La Croix Farm all on foot with go-cart and tow, now both separate, with our pride more than a little hurt but no injury to ourselves or our Sunday school teacher."

Parish Hall concert

Springtime at Trinity Parish Hall

A concert entitled Springtime opened on 23 March 1944 at Trinity Parish Hall and ran for three nights. It was produced by Howard Cabot, who later received a hand-painted illuminated address in recognition of his efforts. Judging by the concert programme, it certainly sounds as though it was entertaining.

Stan Le Ruez did an impersonation, Little girl at a Trinity Whist Drive and there was a sketch entitled Uncle Joseph, in which Howard Cabot played a mild husband of many ideas, Enid Picot a masterful wife, Philip Misson, Jane’s admirer and John Picot, the lover. Roselle and Wilson de la Mare sang a duet, Cyril Colback, Albert Ahier and Eric Machon played some ‘popular numbers’ as the Musical Trio, Constance de Gruchy did a recitation entitled Whiskers and Linda and John Le Marquand performed two Jersey-French dialogues.

Given that the concert took place towards the end of the Occupation, when there would not have been any material available to make the costumes, the dresses were made out of crepe paper. Although the programme states that the ladies' dresses for Chorus No 3 were designed and made by Mrs Ellen Male, it is believed they were made by Olivia Le Marquand (nee Bertram). Martyn Misson still has his late mother Elsie’s dress, still intact some 76 years later.

Something to do

Leonard du Feu, who was a member of the chorus, remembered: "We made our own entertainment in those days and concerts were put on as ‘something to do’. I remember Jack de la Haye took us to St Mary’s Parish Hall in his charcoal lorry (which he had because he was a baker) and we put on the concert there. Howard Cabot was brilliant, and he used to perform a sketch entitled The fly on the wall, which was hilarious.”

We can only imagine the fun and light-relief that the concert provided during difficult times. We know from two sources that very often rehearsals overran, which caused a problem with the curfew. For some, this meant staying the night at friends’ houses. For Elsie and Philip Mission and Barbara Noel, it meant a lucky escape as home was in the military zone (the cutoff was Le Vesconte Monument).

Martyn Mission picks up the story: "As mum, dad and Barbara headed up Tas de Geon towards Rue de La Bergerie, where they lived, they saw some German soldiers coming down from Les Platons. Realising theimplications of being out after curfew, they made a sharp detour to the home of Jack and Mavis de la Haye, only to find their door was locked. More quick thinking led them to the barn on the other side of the property, from where they nipped out around the back and over the wall into Mrs Le Breton’s field, before making a hasty retreat home. Meanwhile, the Germans, having seen someone in the distance trying to get into the house, knocked on the door of the surprised de la Hayes and turned the place apart looking for the culprits who by this time were safe at home and counting their blessings".  

Notes and references

  1. It was College House, not the school
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