1941 Account of an escape from Guernsey sent to Eda Le Messurier

This is an undated  account of an escape under fire from Guernsey across the Channel to England after WWII started.  The account  was copied by Eda Stringer, and contains her  additional notes. Possibly escape was August 1941.  It is not clear whether this whole transcript is written by the same person, or whether it ‘morphs’ into a letter from Eda at the point where the group was taken to Scotland Yard.

Note from Eda:

From Harwood.  Various copies are being circulated, Stitchbury for instance, has one.

Faced mountainous seas;  2 women in party;  & for 6 or 7 hrs.  3 E boats, & a Messer. above, searched for them.

Took 10 mths to make plans.  Asked for a fishing licence; permit refused by local authorities as engine was too powerful, offered to instal(sic) smaller engine.  Got it from the Arsenal where engines etc., & the confiscated wireless sets, were stored.  Made a great fuss about changing the engine with a friend, under the unintelligent eye of a German harbour guard, but it was the smaller engine which went back again to the Arsenal!  Fishing permit granted.  Only sufficient petrol allowed for each fishing trip, but he stored & hid enough juice by syphoning (sic) it out of the tanks of German lorries.

Weather & tide favourable on Aug. 15th, foggy & stormy.  Went out fishing at 4 p.m., picked up remainder of party at a point not under observation from the look out at Vale Castle & the old Vale Mill.  Party went singly to the rendezvous with baskets, “gathering limpets”.

Course set for Start/Stort? Point.  At 9 .m. bad engine trouble developed! Luckily, as it turned out, because they drifted in a different direction from that which Germans knew they must be taking, & E boat sound detectors unable to locate.  Engine got going again, tide turned at midnight, & they raced away with it ill they ran into 5 mine sweepers a few miles off Dartmouth.  Taken to the Police Station, hot baths, food, clothes, locked into railway coach for London & Scotland Yard, where they were vouched for by Advocated Arnold.

Germans have behaved decently to the population.  At beginning issued a Code of Conduct & left it to States to carry out.  Code not too repressive, but States authorities interpret it much too strictly in some cases, and it is not unknown for private people to call at the German Administrative Offices & appeal against oppressive measures;  these complaints are sympathetically listened to and generally result in the States officials getting the worse of the deal.

Note written by Eda Stringer:

Percy Dorey?Dovey? (a snobbish, self-satisfied bounder, I always loathed him) is head of Committee to carry out code.  Was going to prosecute J.H. for breach of food laws – alleged breach.  J.H. said he would go to G. Ad. OA, so P.D. promptly withdrew charge.

Many people go hungry.  For those who can grow potatoes adequate sustenance is assured – see C.Is. Book. Furniture in occupied houses appears to have acquired a spirit of evanescence.  Clothes bought in limited quantities & at extortionate prices.

Island a veritable fortress, hundreds of thousands of tons of cement imported, concrete obstacles & forts all over the island.  Guns bristle all round coast, railways cross island in various directions.

Growing irritation among islanders at the unrepresentative nature of the Government.  J.H. says that things are going to move, & thinks there will be agitation for island to come directly under Eng. Govt as the I. of Wight.  He cannot point the finger at anyone & say he is a quisling, altho’ there are a few whose behaviour is doubtful.  He complains that authorities are altogether too complacent & submissive.  This is very repulsive to islanders who know of col. Britton’s broadcasts urging sabotage etc.  Wireless sets confiscated, but there are many illicit ones, J.H. listened constantly & when he arrived in England there was nothing he did not know.  A friend of his is doing 18 months imprisonment for being found with a set.  Horrible.  Tobacco can sometimes be bought at fifty four shillings for a four ounce packet.

Note at end from Eda:

HEARD from Auntie Agnes that two tunnels are said to have been made, doesn’t know where.

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