Letter 1940 June Evacuation of Guernsey – Eda Le Messurier – Margot Stringer

Note at top of letter:

You know the two big posts at the gate, with the ramblers.  Father pruned them severely this year, & they are perfectly gorgeous, huge clusters of blooms as big as your head – the clusters, not the blooms.


Dear Margot

Here is a link to the wikipedia article about the Guernsey evacuation.

Thank you for your letter.  Either I missed out a comma! (Father’s pet) or else you missed what I had written.  But we were all so worried about Rosa, & everyone else, that it is quite possible I did not make the news clear.  I shall copy Auntie Agnes’ letter dealing with evacuation:-

“Hilda & Mary came over last week & are staying with Hilda’s people.  I hope Greville will soon come over too.  Sorry I haven’t written to Eda, but was in bed when her letter came & since then things have moved too quick for me & for all of us.”

So you see Greville probably stayed behind, under Bank orders like Laurie who is at the same bank, to complete the accounts.

Rosa will never have had my letter, posted on the 28th at 4pm.; even if I had wired on the 29th, there would have been no more boat for her to cross by:  Uncle Edwin’s boat was the last because the staff jumped on board.  It is possible that C.N.Falla may be in Guernsey, the tenant of Halcyon Place.  He was on the Southern railway, but a Guernsey employee, & the Daily Telegraph said that those islanders had remained behind.  Daddy will write to the S.Railway Office at Southampton to find out.

Footnote:        Falla is organist of a church & may have thought it right to stay, as clergy were remaining.

Father came back with further news last night.  It seems that the Bailiff went jittery!  Orders were given by either the military, or the Royal Court, information vague on this point, & the Bailiff countermanded them, & made confusion worse compounded.  Fresh orders had to be issued, the Bailiff retired to his M.Huet fastness, & delegated his authority to Sherwill.  It is said that Stamford Raffles – a deputy – & Sherwill, in order to abate the panic which is said to have been appalling, told the Guernsey crowd that Russia had invaded Germany & that the U.S. had declared war!  Stamford Raffles is a wireless expert, with a private wireless, & Father thinks that he is the son of a man called Raffles who was largely responsible for the Singapore dock works, or at any rate took a leading part in their construction.


Yes, Miss English was awkward occasionally.  She was the person who told me – when I appeared at a whist drive descending from a Guernsey “chair” (do you remember those Guernsey cats?) & escorted by Father – that she would tell my mother!  She meant it too!  It was years before I forgave her, considering that Mother had stood at the gate & waved to us as we drove off.  Bit it only makes me smile now.

Fulford has elected to remain in Oldham.  His school is fixed up with a Head, name of Shaw, who married a Guernsey girl, a chemist’s daughter, by the name of de la Rue. (Note inserted:  She was brainless, & a perfect snob – Ladies College – & more snobbish than the Guernsey aristocrats.)  They lived in Brock Rd, next to Grandma.  Shaw is reported by the Sec.H.M.I. to be a perfect yap/fop (q), so probably Fulford will become top dog.  Father was going to give him Thornton Hough, an unoccupied & practically new school, but he said he preferred to remain in Oldham!  It was offered to the Girls’ Intermediate, but they prefer to remain in Rochdale!  When the winter comes, Oldham & Rochdale will look very different from the Wirral!!  In a way Father is not sorry, he says Fulford is more fulsome & mountebankish than ever, & had they been in the Wirral he might have turned up here with his wife & Miss Roughton; so we are rather pleased to be quit of them.  Both Oldham & Rochdale are neutral !! areas, this has been fully explained to them both.  But apparently they have been received by Oldham & Rochdale with true Lancashire hospitality, & have appreciated it.  I imagine that the health of the Guernsey children will not be improved by a winter in such towns.  At Thornton H…….?? Fulford had a school entirely to himself, as good or better than his Guernsey one, & could work normal hours instead of on a shift system as he will have to as in Oldham – that will upset the Oldham school.  Children’s work (but he doesn’t seem to have thought of that!), besides his own.

“Reduced to primitive conditions & have to catch their fish in the sea before they cook it” – what are they going to cook it with?!!  There will be no more coal (& therefore no gas or electricity), no flour, & no meat.  Cows have already been machine-gunned, that puts an end to some of the milk supply, & it is said that many cows had already been shipped to England besides.  They are bound to starve, or at least come close to it.  If only Rosa had written to us sooner, & told us what was happening, she could have been here in safety.  But we knew nothing till it was too late – fancy, the first hint of danger coming from the Salters.  You can’t eat raw potatoes etc. indefinitely, & there will be no more hot tea, perhaps even no water if the Germans wreck the waterworks.  The nerve strain added to this will make life intolerable, Rosa will surely die, & the Germans will frighten her, they may demand any food which she has in reserve.

I can’t help bothering about my inheritance – not so much from the point of view of money, although that is gravely serious, but because Halcyon Place is part of my life.

I think Clevedon is fairly close to Bristol, Father seems a trifle haze too.  I quite believe your tale of the secret envelopes, hush-hush with one hand, wireless broadcast with the other!  What a Govt.!  And I blame them bitterly for the Guernsey catastrophe.  All should have been withdrawn, a compulsory order should have been made, a martial law business; those in authority must have lamentably failed to explain what would follow a demilitarisation – a blockade & starvation & death.

By the way did Rosa send you a present for the baby when she wrote to you?  Do let me know.

Try & get “Failure  –  (during the last fortnight a great deal of formation flying has been taking place, 6 planes – 4pm – have just flown over the house, so low, that I asked Joyce if they chipped off a slate)  –  of a Mission”.  When Henderson was appointed Amb. To Berlin in Jan 1937, he told Chamberlain he would strive for peace with one reservation, that Britain should pursue rearmament relentlessly since nothing but force would count with Hitler.  Chamberlain agreed, & said it would be done.  In 1938 Henderson reported that Germany was building tanks & planes at an alarming rate, so that our shortage of munitions of war, & France’s lack of them, were inexcusable.

Jackson of Crewe has just been to Middlesboro’ to fetch his old mother.  They had had 10 successive night raids, & she was weak & tired from lack of sleep, but has improved greatly since her few days at Crewe.  The east coast & Middlesboro’ have been badly knocked about, & all are dog tired from want of sleep.  He says mothers are now putting their kids to bed in the trenches at 7 o’clock to give them some hours rest before the row starts.

I do wish you would tell me exactly what has been wrong with you, & how weak or strong you really feel.  I shall come down to Ilford soon if you don’t answer these questions – why can’t you say what has been the matter?  You haven’t even told me yet if the confinement was very stiff, & whether instruments had to be used.  I wish you would let me know, I feel so out of things, & so far from you.  If I had been living near, Matron would have told me, so you might as well tell me yourself; I only worry a lot more when information is refused!  You might simulate frankness, at any rate.  But I do want to see you, & the baby so much.  Shall I come down?  Or will you come here?  The only thing that worries me is that just at present the train journey might upset me, & I don’t want to have to spend a few days in bed in Ilford, or maybe make myself really ill, when you have more to do, & are so occupied, & not fully recovered.

Love to Arthur

Yours, E.A. Stringer


The Blicqs are now said to be in London intending to go to Canada.  I imagine Mrs Steele will be with them.  She has sons there; the last time she went to Canada was with Capt. St. about 3 years ago.  The memories will be painful with him left in Gu.

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