Alice Bonney's Diary 1940
This is the first part of the diary kept throughout the German Occupation of Jersey by nurse Alice Bonney
A sultry hot day, with an air of tension over everything. Planes have been flying overhead all day. We are not sure whose planes they are, but we can make a shrewd guess they are not British. All the potato vans are drawn up under the trees, as much out of sight as possible. I wonder where it will all end. The Germans are all over France by now, and speculation is running high as to whether they will come here.
So, we have been bombed. I thought I had forgotten what air-raids were like, but I find I have not. I had just come in after putting the van away, and I was getting the tea ready and talking about these planes that had been flying around all day.
Margaret had a good picnic with Jean Williams at Millbrook, but I was glad she was in. Clem came in, and then Frank. We had just sat down to tea when "Boom". We all jumped up, and the dog barked. The children ran out into the garden as the plane appeared. It was flying very low, and machine-guns were firing. I yelled to them to come in. I made them sit on the stairs. Margaret was very frightened, poor kid. The plane passed over our house and dropped bombs on the Fort and the Harbour. Poor Mr M was killed in the kitchen of his bungalow. Several people were killed and injured on the piers. The raid was all over in half an hour, and there seemed to be only two planes.
The usual crop of rumours began to flow. No one knew what was really going to happen. Anyway, my brothers Fred and Harold came up and we decided to go to Rolland's place at St Lawrence. We deemed it would be safer than St Helier, although they could have blown us all into the sea. We had nothing to stop them as Churchill had made this an open town on the news at six o'clock. We none of us knew what to expect, but we were not long left in doubt. That night over came the planes again, but this time with an ultimatem demanding us to surrender or else!
The next morning we had five warnings, but no raids. Then on 1 July came the final order to surrender. White flags had to be flown, and no opposition offered. Oh how the Germans must have laughed when they marched in and saw the motley collection of clothing to use as flags, flying from every chimney pot and attic window.
Mrs A and I fell out. I said: "I was putting out no flags." She said: " The whole street would suffer." " You silly fool," I said "It is not meant for us, it is only for public buildings and such like." And Mrs B backed me up. So our two houses lacked the white flag, and believe me, nothing happened.
Nazis march in
Well here we are, the Nazis in possession. They marched in at noon today, after being brought from France in troop carriers. They lined up in the Parade and marched to the square, and all the kids of the island goose-stepped with them.
It was real funny. The town is in a chaotic state, everyone is talking at once, running hither and thither and accomplishing nothing. The shops seem to have gone mad, and everybody is buying up feverishly. No more communication with England, no English newspapers, no post. It is a strange feeling to lose ones freedom; although we have not felt it much as yet.
The "greenfly" are everywhere: telephones, banks, post offices, Police Station, Royal Court, Governor’s house. All full of them, and some of the girls have already started to fraternise; so I suppose in due course there will be the usual crop of "Jerry Babies”. Poor little mites. Rather disgusting state of affairs, but it goes on all the world over.
So cars come off the road; that is only to be expected. So from henceforth It will be "Shank's Pony" for us. Do some of us good I suppose. I wonder what I will do for money, now the link with the mainland is broken, a curfew imposed, a military zone created. They have started their petty restrictions. If they are here long enough it will strangle us all. Banks open tommorow. Marks only to be issued in change, only marks not worth the paper they are printed on. 9 Marks-300 phennigs to the Pound. Kid themselves don't they?
Forum cinema to be used entirely by German forces, and their "bags" I presume. Trust them to take the best one. German identity-cards to be in the possession of everyone; with a photograph. Who? Why? Where? the same old German technique.
Back to work
Things are settling down a bit better, I am going out nursing again, had a long chat with Dr Gow and Gallacher, and they will both put plenty of work in my way.
Had my first marks today, I would not admit it to a German, but the Metric System is far easier than our Sterling. Got my first patients this morning. I am a bit rusty, but I suppose I will oil up as time passes.
It's real funny to see the Germans strutting about the streets, they are a fine body of men. They are having a fine time in the shops, some of the people are real scared of them, there are some real funny incidents today., For instance, the kids from St James’ School linked themselves across St Saviour’s Road, and started to sing: Hitler bought a shirt - Musso wore it, Churchill tore it - whistle while you work!". And do they sing it with Gusto, and the Huns from the "Continental" smile on them benignly, but they will catch a cold if there are any English-speaking Germans amongst them.
My word, I saw a dreadful sight this morning on the pier. They were unloading a lot of people and lining them up prior to marching them away. Some Germans in khaki with black swastikas on their arms were in charge of them. They had cruel looking whips, which they were using freely; poor things, they are in a sorry state. Old men, young men, some just children, a few women they tell me. They have been marched across Europe, and used no better than slaves. There are Russians and Jews amongst them, and they are all treated cruelly. The German is the same old beast when he is top dog.
Fortifications springing up everywhere, barbed wire by the mile. Those poor devils the slaves are to do the work , cement and steel, tons of it.
We can use our wireless sets. We can offer prayer for the Royal Family in our churches, very kind of them! As if we would ask them anyway. The weather is grand, I hope the winter will be a mild one, as fuel of all kinds is already short. The "Greenfly" are still bringing hundreds of these slave workers here. They seem to be all nationalities, and some of them are in very poor shape.
They have started to dig under Meadow Bank, goodness knows what for. Some say one thing, and some another. They are also laying mines by the hundred in the fields both sides of St Peter’s Valley. Thank goodness both the boys can keep on with their trades. Clem brought home a nice lot of meat from the slaughter house, so they will have good dinners for the next few days.
Oh dear, it seems as if thousands of German planes left here last night. Southampton, Portsmouth, London caught it again, I hope our people are alright. If we could only get some news. They say the Red Cross will get things fixed up soon. I hope they do, this utter silence is worse than anything. Poor old C is anxious for the safety of her two, and Reg blames her for letting them go, but it was hard to know what to do for the best. I have mine with me, it is true, but God knows what we will have to face before this is over. Nothing is secure now.
Well here we are approaching the end of 1940. It will be a sad christmas for a good many, let us hope it is the first and the last. I have made a pudding and a cake, and that is the last of my dried fruit. Still, we are together and that is something to be thankful for. I have managed to get a gift for each of the kids, also one for Fred's youngsters. They are coming to live over St Helier Garages. That will be better as transport is getting a problem. Ha, Ha, me riding a bicycle. After 19 years, was I wobbly? I bet I looked a sight, but I will get used to it and it will be better than walking everywhere. Our little Buddie is growing an intelligent little animal. He and Margeret are such good pals, he is great company, as I have to be out so much.
Christmas passed off very quitely, no one felt like much gaiety. Never mind, I suppose it could be much worse, and we will look forward to 1941.