Letter 1940 June Evacuation of Guernsey – Edwin Le Messurier – Eda Le Messurier

Note from Eda Stringer at top of letter:                                             Holme View, Aglionby, Carlisle


Failure to evacuate more completely must have been due, as he says, to the Guernsey authorities.  It looks as if they had not asked for sufficient boats, so I don’t think the Cabinet can be blamed!  Father had been told, you remember, that the Bailiff had gone jittery & that contradictory orders had been issued.  No wonder the island was in a state of panic.

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

Dear Eda

Thank you for your letter – I am answering your questions as far as I can in order:-

  • We got on board at 6.50pm Friday 28th Ju: bombing commenced at once, it was frightful but no bombs fell on ship, the noise was due to our heavy gun & machine guns 3 in number.  We wondered if our decks would support, it was only these guns that kept the planes from the ship. Anti aircraft gun at the stern & machine guns one each side of the navigating bridge – & a big cargo boat close by had a powerful gun she was using. 2 long lines of loaded lorries with tomatoes, waiting to be loaded, were all put on fire, we saw them burning away & Cambridge Berth sheds on fire.  Weighbridge blown up.  States Office windows, Royal Hotel windows & we think Mid. Bank do (ditto?) were all blown out.  PC Bougourd was killed by Weighbridge, but J.W. Walker, nice man we know was killed coming to boat to cross, DeJeusserand ditto:  we left at 10.20.
  • Blicq’s & presumably Mrs Steele, left in w.e. 22 June, boys of course, went earlier in the week with the schools. Blicq, we hear are intending to get to Canada. Harry crossed with Bank property on the 25th London & was then to go on to Exeter.  Daisy crossed with her father & mother on the 20th for Borth (?), she is now with Harry.  Brian is at Oldham 39 Taurus St.
  • Laurie had tea with us on Friday & left at 6pm, 50 mins after we were being bombed & we had agreed that Banks & Govt would not leave them behind in fear of German invasions, we were frightfully deceived. Answers given to questions in House of Lords & Commons, are really misleading. All the opportunity given by the Govt was up to 24 June & that was for (1) school children, (2) mothers & children under school age, (3) men of military age (4) any others wishing to evacuate.  This was the last date, our local authorities, then seemed to muddle it & discourage people from leaving.  I booked on the Monday, for Friday’s boat & bought my tickets on Friday morning, had I not done so, we would have been caught in the crowd on the jetty – Capt Franklin,  Harbour Master, told me Friday morn “my boy, you have left it one day too long”.  No boats between Tuesday & Friday – (note from Eda “He must mean Tuesday night, i.e. early Wed. morning, as Mabel left on Wednesday at 4 a.m.)

German planes had made the round of the town on the Thursday flying low & were seen to be photographing the place.

The only consolation we have is that Laurie & Phyllis have good company with the other members of the Bank & our Court Officials.  If the food will only hold out.  We are praying that God will watch over them & reunite us all again.  Greville is also with Laurie.  He was going to live at Westbourne with Wm/Dr (??) Sutcliffe, who was alone too.

Rosa must have been left in Gu.  also, I had not seen her for some time.  Tom Mauger is also there.

Last boat out was ours.  Germans landed on Sunday – nothing can now be done to get anyone away, though we have heard two fishing motor boats have since come away, one from Cobs/Cols?? with family of  Duquemins & one to Dartmouth from G.Rocque.

Telegraphic Com: with Guernsey was lost at 10.11pm on Sunday 30 June, at 10.30pm (note – next few words crossed out & “blue pencil” written above them.  Eda has arrowed towards this & written “Germans must have cut?”)  –  the wire must have been cut.  I was satisfied that Laurie rec’d my telegram on Sat. morn that we had arrived safe.

Many of our friends are left behind in Guernsey – Alf Aubert died suddenly in Gu. on the 29th June.

I don’t see how applications to the International Red Cross can do any good for there is no neutral country in touch with the Island & it may possibly expose some person loved by us to some sort of persecution.

Let me know if you want any further information that I may give you I will be only too pleased & should like to have a chat with Will; show this letter to your father please Eda – Love to you all, is Desiree still in London & Margot in Ilford?

Love from Auntie Laura & Nita

Yours affectionately, Edwin

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