WW2 Jersey German Occupation

My WW2 Wartime Memories….

….as far as I can remember them.

By Reg Langlois


I was born in 1936 and now I am 80. I feel it's time to share my memories that I experienced as I lived through the
 occupation in Jersey UK and before I got too old I thought I would write little stories about my life during the Second 
World War for my grand children. Most of the last generation has past away and now it is left to me to tell them all about 
their family from the past before I forget. 

Story telling …passing on knowledge, I hope. 


The Germans arrived
A year after I was born, my father, mother and myself moved from my grandfather Langlois’s home at Sion Hall, to 
a farm called Gros Puit at Bagot in the parish of St Saviour, only some two miles away. I think we moved because 
my father wanted his independence. We spent three years there. My father grew tomatoes, potatoes and loads of 
green vegetables. We also had cows and pigs but it was hard work for my father as he was just starting out to farm
 by himself. In 1939 he suffered a big setback when he discovered that he had arthritis at the top of his spine 
whichconfined him to bed where he spent most of the next eighteen months on his back. Our next-door neighbours, 
the Pallot family, and work people from Sion Hall came every day to keep the farm going. They were a great help, as 
we could not have continued without them.
 
In 1940 I was four years old and beginning to understand a lot of what was going on around me. My father was in bed, 
my mother was very worried and friends and family were calling at all hours. I remember a lot of shouting and arguing from
 which all I could make out was that we were going to move away somewhere. I later discovered that the friends and
 family were trying to persuade us to leave the island because the Germans were coming and my father would not have 
been able to work for them, had he been made to. However Dad had the final word. He said, " We are staying". Mum 
had started packing and crying all at once. She just wanted to do what was best for everybody and did not want to go 
either. I have no memory of the Germans arriving in the island but I do recall them being here very well.

One afternoon we were looking out over the fields from my father's room watching the German soldiers going around 
doing their exercises. They were running, jumping and crawling about on the muddy ground, leaping over low walls and 
climbing over high ones, when one of the German soldiers had the bright idea of using a wooden barrel he had found 
nearby to help them over a very high wall. It worked well until some twenty odd soldiers had passed over the wall with t
he help of the barrel but, with only two or three men to go, the barrel started to collapse, the bottom gave way and the 
next man trying to get over disappeared inside. We were too far away to see if they were laughing but fortunately they 
could not see us doubled up with laughter. 

At the farm my sister learnt to drive at a very early age. She cannot have been more than two and a half when she got 
onto a Fordson tractor that was parked on a slope and somehow managed to take the brake off. The tractor took off with 
her sitting on it but she kept it in a straight line and parked it half in and half out of an asbestos garage. Considering her 
age, she had done pretty well. Unfortunately, she had taken the gable end with her. We had to forgive her for asbestos is 
not very tough, is it? Growing up In 1940 I was four years old and beginning to understand a lot of what was going on
 around me. 

Transport
Transport was something to remember. My father's back problem had been improving when he managed to find a very
 heavy bicycle somewhere. As before the occupation he had always used a car, he must have found this kind of transport
 very hard work. As we were only permitted to use our tractor for farm work, he made a luxury trailer for my sister and myself 
to tow us behind his bicycle. The body of the trailer was made from a heavy cabin trunk and the big fat wheels and tyres 
came off a couple of large wheelbarrows. 

One fine day, my father, very proud of his invention, took us in the new trailer for its maiden journey. Only a couple of miles 
on its test run we were on the way home when he must have lost concentration for a split second and hit the curb pretty 
hard. We bounced around like a ball because of the big balloon tyres and turned right over tipping us out onto the hard 
pavement. Strangely enough I can remember that incident as if it was yesterday. 

In 1941, when I was five and my sister three and a half, we were on the move again. 

We moved to another farm where, this time, the soil was very good. It was well drained and had better shelter from 
the cold Easterly winds. This was Stirling Castle Farm whose buildings dated from c.1590 - a wonderful place where 
everything was small, even the only toilet around the corner behind the house. Compared to Sion Hall this was a dolls 
house and I have many good memories of this farm. The farmhouse is situated halfway up the side of a valley and the 
land branches away from it. Near the house we had glass frames to bring on young plants and on the larger fields we 
grew wheat and oats for the cattle and for making bread. We also kept cows for milking. 

There were German soldiers everywhere, probably because it was a valley and it gave them plenty of shelter from 
RAF or USA aircraft flying overhead. Although it was forbidden to collect leaflets off the ground, my mother used to find 
it satisfying to get them before the Germans did and collect arms full of paper and silver foil. Every time we harvested 
our crops we had by law to hand over a large amount to the Germans, at least half I think.


Nasty Accident 
One day the Germans turned up in the yard with a very heavy wagon drawn by two very large shire-type horses to 
collect the straw that was due to them. They set about in a very business like way loading the wagon and the load got higher 
and higher with a man working by stacking the straw squarely on the top, when suddenly the horses who had been standing 
very still took fright and moved, dislodging the man on the top of the load. He must have fallen at least fifteen feet onto the 
cobbled yard on his head, from which blood was pouring. Without hesitation, my mother dashed indoors for a bowl of water 
with Dettol and offered to clean the wound but the officer in charge pushed her out of the way, tipping the bowl at the same 
time, and proceeded to clean the mans head with a news paper. My mother was even more upset when she saw the damage 
on the man's head yet she was not allowed to help in any way. He was taken onto the road and had to wait until the soldiers 
had finished loading before being taken off for treatment. 

Throughout the occupation she never forgave the Germans for the treatment they gave to that man. 

Being a youngster during the occupation was not as bad as it was for adults, who were always looking around for things 
on which to survive. It was even harder for people living in the town who had to come out to the farms to glean in the fields 
after the corn had been cut. They had to pick the grains by hand off the ground to make bread and I would try to help t
hem but my fingers soon became sore as the dry stalks cut into them.

Strangely enough I can remember that incident as if it was yesterday. In 1941, when I was five and my sister three and 
a half, we were on the move again. We moved to another farm where, this time, the soil was very good. It was well drained
 and had better shelter from the cold Easterly winds. This was Stirling Castle Farm whose buildings dated from c.1590 - 
a wonderful place where everything was small, even the only toilet around the corner behind the house. Compared to Sion Hall 
this was a dolls house and I have many good memories of this farm. The farmhouse is situated halfway up the side of a valley
 and the land branches away from it. Near the house we had glass frames to bring on young plants and on the larger fields 
we grew wheat and oats for the cattle and for making bread. We also kept cows for milking. Germans everywhere. There 
were German soldiers everywhere, probably because it was a valley and it gave them plenty of shelter from RAF or USA 
aircraft flying overhead. Although it was forbidden to collect leaflets off the ground, my mother used to find it satisfying 
to get them before the Germans did and collect arms full of paper and silver foil. 


My German friend
I was playing in the fields one day when a German soldier turned up with a spade to do some digging. I remember that 
he gave me a grin and offered me the spade and, when I shook my head, he grinned again. I thought that I had made a 
friend. He looked about the garden for a while and started walking towards the farmhouse. I followed my new friend 
and stayed nearby when he started digging on high ground near a pathway close to the house. He must have been 
there a long time because he had dug a hole as big as a table. It was so deep that, from where I was standing, I could not
 see the bottom. When I think about it now, he had done a fine job of making a neat hole with straight sides and he had 
even cleaned up the soil that he had taken from the hole. As my new friend could not speak my language, when I asked him
 why he had dug the hole he just smiled and, when he had finished, he shook my hand and went. I never saw him again
although I sat near the hole for several days waiting for him to come back. Fed up I went in doors and told my mother 
bout him. She said that he seemed a nice man. I asked her how she knew and she said that she had been looking through
 the window all the time while he had been digging that hole. (She called it a" dug out"). Nobody came near it for weeks, so, 
bit by bit, I took it over. I dug steps into the sides and put bamboo canes close together on the top to make a roof out of bits
 and pieces, door knobs, nails, tin cans and so on, I could turn that hole into anything I wanted - a plane, a tank or even a
 submarine. My new friend had given me the best present I had ever had. I heard my father telling someone once that he 
reckoned the German had dug that hole near the pathway and close to the house just for me. 


The Windmill
A short distance from the house, just over the brow of the hill, there was a windmill used for pumping water up to a large 
water tank for the cattle. The windmill was constructed of steel and was quite tall as it was erected in a draughty valley. 
It had four giant legs and a wooden shaft that came down from the vane into the ground, the idea being that the shaft goes 
up and down about twenty inches and pumps water from a well. What a great plaything for someone like me. I used to go 
over the hill and down the valley to play on this windmill. I would climb up the shaft to about ten feet and wrap my legs
 around it, going up and down for what seemed like hours. Well, that was until my father caught me. My mother and 
father had been looking for me for ages. Dad would always shout at me when he was angry but Mum would always give me 
a piece of her mind and then smack me. I remember this time she smacked me across her ironing table in the kitchen. 
Talking about that kitchen, the doctor turned up to give my sister and myself our vaccination injections and I ran away to
 hide. I did not wait to see where my sister went, nor did I care. I hid in my dugout but my father knew that I would be 
there and was all right about it. Once I was with him in the top field near a water storage tank while he was milking the 
cows by hand, when there was gunfire nearby. They were firing at a large aircraft passing over the island when, suddenly,
 there was a loud crash. A chunk of an aircraft had fallen in the field and a lot of small fires appeared. They turned out to
 be pieces of hot shrapnel. My father suddenly scooped me up and we dived under the water tank, just in time as another
 piece of the aircraft dropped onto the field very close to us. 


The Chateau
Across the road from our farm was a brick built, three-storey house that could be called a chateau. It was set in its 
own grounds but my memory of the house and land is a little blurred. It was empty during the occupation and was 
looked after by caretakers. One was called Bob and he, his sister and brother used to take it in turns to come from town 
every day. I would walk around the house with them and was fascinated with the beehive they had up on the top floor. They 
let me travel by the dumb waiter (a mini lift just large enough to hold me). Outside in the garden they had a petrol motor 
that powered a water pump and, because they were not too good on mechanical maintenance, their pump took a lot of 
patience to get started. They always took the spark plug out, laid it on an oily rag soaked in petrol and lit it to heat it up. 
It worked most times but, if not, it would grow cold and they would have to go through the whole process again. 
What I remember most is the huge sunken rose garden. I wonder if it is still there. At the top of the hill the Germans 
had taken up residence in a large property called Oaklands where they had a fuel tank dump. My father thought it was 
very convenient that he had someone who worked for him on the farm that knew how to siphon petrol for the tractor and,
 at night, he would take a little from the German's fuel tanks and put it into smaller tanks on the other side of the hedge. 
He would only siphon a small amount from one or two of the hundreds that were there. Thank goodness they never caught
 him, as he was good with engines. He got a BSA three-wheel motor vehicle running. It had a flat platform on the back and 
helped a great deal when my father needed to carry lightweights around. As the platform extended well over the rear axel, 
the driver had to remember to load up the front first. We lived on a very steep hill and, if the BSA had been badly loaded, 
the little vehicle would have lifted up in the air and there was every chance the load would have come off.


Wheelies….
One day my father and I with the little BSA were climbing up this hill empty when we passed some German soldiers. They 
laughed at us and tried to hitch a lift. My father said he would take a couple of them but that we might tip up if we took 
more. Two jumped on and off we went, steadily, but some of the others we passed thought that they would take a lift 
as well and, although the first two told them to get off, it was too late. The little three-wheeler reared up and discharged 
its load, landing the soldiers on the roadway. My father thought there would be trouble, but the soldiers sitting on the 
road laughed and waved to us in a friendly way. 

In the last year at Stirling Castle Farm I started junior school with my eldest sister (by the way, at this time I had another 
sister who was born in a nursing home in St Helier). It was principally a girls' school called the Convent FCJ. A few 
young men were accepted if they had sisters at the same school and also a few non-catholics like myself. Perhaps the 
war made them bend the rules a little. At assembly in the mornings the non-catholic boys had to sit at the back of the hall, 
whereas non-catholic girls could sit with all the others. I was quite happy as I had two or three other non-catholic boys 
for company. That school was dear to my heart. I learnt how to make jewellery boxes out of used post cards. You have 
to make holes all around the cards then place the cards back to back. Using blanket stitch you then joined them all together 
and they even had a hinged lid. I have never forgotten those boxes. I also learnt to tie up my laces. When I kicked off my 
shoes one day in front of the teacher, she suggested that I might like to learn how to untie and tie them up properly. 
It took a week to learn and she made me do it twenty times. I cannot remember learning anything else. Oh yes! We learnt 
how to be kind to others. Each of us in the class had to collect money for our own adopted boy or girl from another 
country. I chose a black boy from Africa because I liked the kind look in his eyes and I think that I managed to collect 
five pennies for him. One more thing - you were not allowed to carry matches. 

One day the teacher asked us all to empty our pockets to play a game of something or other and, to the class's horror, 
I took a matchbox out of my pocket. It was spotted by the teacher who was very angry with me, even when I told her t
hat there was nothing in it. She picked up the box, shook it and it rattled. She was fuming and was even more upset when 
a little, curled up woodlouse fell out. We had never seen her so angry. Saying that she would have to smack me, she 
turned around and picked up a piece of stick. She had tears in her eyes when she turned back and told me to hold out 
my hand. At seven years old you can fake being brave but, when I held out my hand, I was pleasantly surprised to f
ind that it did not hurt-in fact that the piece of wood she was using was elderberry which is quite soft. Within half an 
hour the whole school knew that Mother Carmel had beaten me. Twenty years or more after I left that school Mother Carmel 
still had my photograph up on the wall. She always kept her favourite pupils on that wall. 


It was Grandpa hiding
I asked my father one day what the noise was coming from in the loft and he said that it was probably a mouse or 
perhaps a bird that had got caught up there. He went up to take a look and came down saying that he could not see 
anything and he was sure that it was not a bird. A few days later when I heard the noise again, I thought it was a 
mouse but I said nothing that time or on other occasions when I heard it. We had a lot of mice around the farm and 
they did not appear to do any harm. It was only at the end of the occupation that I discovered that Grandpa Hodgetts 
had spent three weeks up in our loft in the dark. He had been born in Birmingham in England and, had he been found, 
he would have been deported to Germany, as were the other English people here. I remember Grandpa Hodgetts 
cultivating a patch of about thirty perch of land at the farm and spending many hours there, as he wanted to be self- 
sufficient, which was a credit to him. He grew five perch of potatoes and twenty-five perch of tobacco. 

The family considered he had his priorities right. When Grandpa cultivated the tobacco crop, he bundled the giant 
leave together and hung them up in the rafters around the farm buildings to dry. He then placed them in a homemade 
press, which were only about eighteen inches long and five inches wide. It had a lump of wood on the top of it to squeeze 
the juice out of the leaves and I can just see him now tightening the screw down bolts every day with loving care. During t
he occupation, lighter fuel was non-existent and matches were hard to find so you either had to do without or think up 
means of igniting your home-grown cigarettes or pipes. Grandpa had a friend in the motor trade who came up with the 
idea of using a four-cylinder impulse magneto, which, by joining all the leads, produced a longer spark that worked well. 
Grandpa had the idea of using a tin with a hole in the lid with a piece of window sash cord through it as a wick. The oil in 
the tin came from many sources such as used engine oil, fish oil, and chicken fat and sometimes all three. I shall never 
forget the horrible smells of the burning oil and of grandpa's pipe. 

I have good memories of Stirling Castle Farm, which we left at the end of 1943 when I was seven years old. My father 
had spread his wings and it was then time to return to Sion Hall to work with his father again. What a change it was 
for my father. Instead of a thriving tomato growing industry, the packing sheds and the land looked more like a ghost 
town with only a few potatoes planted and a mere five people working there instead of the fifty or so there had been before
 the war. Every year during the occupation Grandpa Langlois made sure that the tomato seed had been sown, the seedlings
 pricked out and that thousands of plants were ready for planting. He said throughout that the war could not last forever a
nd that, when it was over, everyone would want tomatoes. He was right and he was ready. When Jersey was liberated on 
the 9th of May 1945 my father and grandfather immediately organised the planting of all the tomato plants they had 
prepared months ahead. My grandfather's foresight had paid off. 

Sion Hall .. (Presently called Hotel L’Emeraude) 
It is no longer a hotel, it is accommodation for farm workers,I should explain a little about Sion Hall. My Grandfather Langlois 
bought it in the 1920's. It was a very large house with many bedrooms, probably fifteen or more, and all the rooms were 
very large with large windows looking out over the countryside. Approaching it from the front, you would first notice 
the enormous pillars supporting the balcony, which ran its full length. I was told that, had you visited the house in the 
early 1930's, you would have seen four or five full size white marble statues of beautiful, scantily dressed ladies near 
the main doors.

Marble statues in the background before grandma's boys painted them

My grandmother had them removed because her four sons would not stop painting them. The building was divided 
into two homes with us living on the left side and my Grandfather on the other. 

There were many more rooms on my grandfather's side of which the most memorable was about fifty feet long and 
twenty feet wide with a large open fireplace at one end surrounded by giant sized armchairs and huge sofas. In the
 centre there was a heavy, ornate black oak table that opened out to nearly fourteen feet with matching chairs and 
sideboards and, at the other end of the room, there was a full-sized billiard table with all its accessories, including
 boxed-in overhead lamps. Against the wall, there was a rack holding many cues as everyone in the family had their 
own. I remember that there were huge pictures and heavy curtains. Grandma Langlois' favourite party trick, which 
greatly annoyed Grandpa Langlois, was to persuade Buddy, the large St Bernard who weighed in at over two hundred 
pounds, to jump up on the billiard table, lay on his back and have his tummy tickled. The grandchildren loved that game.
 It is strange the memories that come back to you as you grow older. As I write this, I remember the large, D-shaped 
fishpond filled with large, white water lilies. Behind this there was a dark tunnel of rough stones. Inside it was spooky, 
with the strange sound of water always dripping on to the stones, which I now realize were lava rocks filtering the 
water before it returned to the pond. We none of us ever dared go through it. 

Wartime dances
Can you imagine a house with its own ballroom? At Sion Hall that was to be expected. The huge room with a proper 
dance floor also had a long conservatory leading off it, which was filled with geraniums. During the occupation, 
not only those who lived nearby, but people from all over the island came to the dances, which were held every two 
weeks. The music came from either a wind-up gramophone or, betters still, a live band, led by Eric Harrison. The 
dances started fairly early in the evening as the dancers would have to be back home before curfew at about nine 
o'clock Those people living a fair distance from Sion Hall must have had difficulty dodging the German patrols if they 
left the dances too late. I would sit on the window ledge three stories up, with my legs overhanging the sill, waving to
 the people going home. It was some time before my parents found out what I was doing, while my sisters were asleep in their 
beds. We were supposed to have had a young woman looking after us while the dance was on but she must have joined them.

I remember the time I painted my bicycle with old paint that I had found in a shed. I mixed together a little out of each tin
 I found and it came out a sort of grey-pink. A couple of weeks later I asked Grandpa Hodgetts, my sign writer grandfather, 
why the paint on my newly painted bicycle was still soft and sticky. He said that I should have mixed the paint in the cans 
before using it and that I must have only used the top of the paint with the linseed oil. He offered to repaint it but I said,
"No thank you. I will wait for it to dry." Grandpa smiled. He knew better. On another occasion, I remember my father 
putting new tyres on my bicycle. They were made of rubber hosepipe, which he wrapped around the wheels, threading a 
length of thick wire through the hose and tightening it with a pair of pliers to keep the tyres on. When I was on my bicycle, 
I could count the number of times the wheel turned because, each time, there was a small bump where there was a join 
in the hose. 

Sion Hall had its own electricity plant-110 volts and the family had to be careful not to turn on too many lights at one
 time to avoid burning out the complete system. The Lister single cylinder engine had a large and very heavy flywheel 
and took two men to start it They would crank up the starting handle into the right position, take a deep breath, shout GO 
nd swing that handle as fast as they could. It did not always start but, when it did, all the lights that had been left on would 
come on as if it was daylight. No one was allowed in that engine room and no one was allowed to smoke anywhere nearby. 
When I peeped through the doorway one day, I saw rows of glass tanks with wires going from one to the other. They 
made strange, fizzing sounds that puzzled me as I could not understand what was going on. Even the clocks on the 
walls bore no resemblance to those I saw in our house. What a mad world when you are young! 


The Farm fire
One night we were over at grandpa's house with a few cousins, aunts and uncles having a noisy party, as was usual 
when we were all together, when there was a loud banging and shouting at the back door. Dad and Grandpa rushed 
outside, calling over their shoulders: "Get out of the house! The shed is on fire.” Without any hesitation, Grandma 
Langlois took charge as she did in any emergency, though not usually as worrying as this. We were herded out of the
 house through the front door and into the garden, where she made sure that we were all together. We could not stay 
there as huge lumps of burning straw were blowing over the house and over our heads. We had to run across the 
road and up into the field to get out of danger. The noise coming from the direction of the fire was horrendous and 
it was difficult to hear anyone speaking. The smell from the fire was unforgettable and indescribable. 

We must have sat for some considerable time in that field by its light, when my father came across to tell us we would
 not be able to go back into the house as there was a danger the sparks could set it alight. We had to go up to Uncle 
Jim's farm at Val Poucin, about half a mile away over the brow of the hill. We spent two or three days with Uncle Jim
 and Aunt Dorrie who let us do whatever we wanted. We had almost forgotten about the fire at Sion Hall until Dad 
came up to take us back home. Although it was close to home, we had not been able to see or smell it from Uncle Jim'
s farm. It was only as we walked along the yard behind Sion Hall that the smell of the smoke and the heat of the fire 
made me feel ill but this was forgotten when we were confronted by a German soldier standing about fifty yards from 
 it, warming himself with the heat of the dying embers. 

My father said that he had been there since the day before because he had had instructions from his commander to keep 
everyone away, and he was not going to move for anyone. He saluted my father as we passed him. There were water 
pipes everywhere and, when I was told that the fire engine was coming back to collect them, I realised what I had missed. 
"That would have been even more exciting than the fire!" Suddenly an enormous explosion from the centre of the 
damped down fire shook the whole area. It erupted like a volcano with straw, bamboo canes, timber, and steam being
 hurled up into the air. As Dad and I hurried away, someone called out, "the fire engine is on its way back". The fire i
gnited itself many times over the following three weeks and I would only have to throw a stone into the ashes for it 
to ignite again. 

The German guards only stayed for a week. On one occasion when the German guard had left, I was on my own near 
the fire, fascinated by its bluish colour as it spread across the top of the hard, crusty, charcoal embers, when suddenly
 a blue flame shot out like a tongue. It began to lick the bottom of one of the railway lines that had been used for 
supporting the roof of the shed. I watched it for a few minutes and could not believe my eyes. The upright was falling
 down and that tongue of fire had cut through the metal. For weeks after the fire had dampened down, family and friends 
dug large deep holes and buried the burnt out electric motors and tools and anything else that the Germans might have 
seen. Luckily the German guard had stayed at his post at all times and had not seen what was lying in the ashes. Had he 
seen the burnt out motors or the charred carcasses of pigs, he would have reported the Langlois family and us would
have been on their way to Germany. 

Ours was the biggest farm fire during the occupation. For years after the occupation, my grandfather Langlois would 
tell his friends how he had lost one million new bamboo canes, hundreds of bales of hay, boats, a car and two lorries, 
some owned by others, that were hidden behind the straw and the stacks of bamboos. There were a couple of dozen large 
electric motors that the Germans would have liked to get their hands on, as well as a load of tools and tons of nails that 
were to be used for making tomato packing boxes. Hidden in the shed from the Germans was a complete mill for 
grinding wheat and corn. Thankfully, I was not told about the sixty pigs that had perished in the fire while they were
 hidden from the Germans in soundproofed pens well screened from prying eyes.
 

Another fire
The fire at the Palace Hotel at Mont Millais in 1945 was thought to have been started deliberately by anti-Nazis causing an explosion in the cordite store. It was the worst fire that Jersey saw during the occupation. I understand German naval students used the hotel. As I returned to school the following afternoon, I heard small explosions and saw soldiers picking up things in the surrounding fields and gardens and putting them in sacks. There were craters all over the area as if there had been an earthquake. To this day I do not know what they were collecting with such urgency. 


A wonderful home
Sion Hall was a wonderful home. It was a fun place; always open to family and friends with people dropping in all 
the time. Thinking about it now, it seemed to be an oasis in another world. Germans were everywhere on the island 
but I do not remember them coming around our home. Every half mile or so they had built lookout posts, some up trees,
 some built into walls. There were ammunition dumps and fuel dumps and just about everything you could imagine. 
The German soldiers used fields as if they owned them, they drove about in tanks, they rode and pulled wagons with
 horses, they did their manoeuvres but the only time they ever came on to our land was to erect tall steel or concrete
 posts with thick wire on the tops to prevent enemy aircraft from landing. 

Grandpa Langlois and my father considered them a hazard when they ploughed the fields so they removed them. 
They cut the wires, pulled the ten feet or so long posts down and dragged them into deep trenches that they had
 made earlier. Sion Hall was a very large building, the type the Germans might well have requisitioned for
 their own use so I could never understand why they did not. Our farm was not very active during the last two years 
of the occupation. I think that we must have just been ticking over, growing small amounts of produce such as wheat, 
green crops, root crops and sugar beet. Sugar beet was a new crop to the farm. It had many uses and I remember 
Grandma Langlois drying it in the AGA cooker for making tea as well as bottling it as a sweet syrup for just about 
anything that needed sweetening. 


Grandpa was upset
I did not much care for the sugar beet syrup but preferred her dried carrot tea. Grandma was always busy in the 
house for she had a large family to look after as well as people calling in all the time. Although her children, two 
daughters and four sons, were married, the boys would often go along to Sion Hall to have a meal. One morning 
I remember the men weree sitting around the huge kitchen table finishing their second breakfast of the day and 
putting the world to rights, when there was a loud crash. Grandpa had gone over backwards in his chair, banging 
his head on the wall behind him. Fortunately he had only dented his pride and his sons were all falling about laughing. 
It was his habit to lean backwards in his chair to relax and talk after his meal and he was a heavily built man, six feet 
tall and weighing about two hundred and thirty pounds. Grandma had called out to him not to lean back, but it was
 too late. The day before, without telling him, she had moved the large dresser he used to lean against to do some decorating! 

I cannot remember the date but I do remember going to the town prison where My Uncle was being held because he 
had broken the law. He had sold or given an outboard motor to a group of young men so that they could escape from
 the island. They were only a short distance from the shore, when the German soldiers had fired on them and they 
were captured and questioned. Under pressure, they told the Germans where they had obtained the motor. Whilst in 
prison the family was allowed to take in food. Grandma Langlois considered that her son needed fattening, so she made 
sure that he had plenty. She made enough pies to feed Uncle and half the prisoners. There were no half measures with
 Grandma. The horse cart was full to bursting with the Langlois family when we set off to fetch Uncle. It had a wagon style
 cover over it and Duke and Pineau, our two farm horses, pulled it with ease along the flat road, although they were not too
 happy when we reached the cobbled road inside the prison. They jumped around a bit but soon settled down when we 
stopped. With Uncle on board and everyone cheering, the horses decided that they had had enough of the cobbled
 roadway between high granite walls and took off at the gallop for home. To onlookers it must have looked like a scene
 from the gold rush days


Red Cross-parcels
Towards the end of the occupation the Red Cross sent parcels to Jersey on a ship called the Vega. My father used to 
take me along with him with Duke the horse and cart to collect the Red Cross parcels for the local shops. They arrived
 just in time for the population, many of whom were suffering from malnutrition. The parcels contained mostly 
tinned goods such as Klim, which was powdered milk, Maple butter, syrup, prunes and chocolate - food no one 
had seen for years 


Last day
I will never forget the day the adults started acting strangely, dancing and calling out to each other. I was playing 
in the back yard when my father called me indoors to listen to the wireless. "What's a wireless?" I asked. He was
 indoors by then so I hurried in to join the family. In all the excitement I remember there was a lot of laughing and
 crying and everyone was hugging each other. My father stood over by the fireplace with a strange piece of equipment
 in his hand that I had never seen before. It was attached to a dark coloured box-shaped thing on the floor and had 
wires attached to something I recognized as a battery. Sounds and voices came from it and my father told everyone 
to be quiet because Winston Churchill was going to speak. You could have heard a pin drop as Dad said softly "we 
have waited a long time for this moment ". We heard the British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill; say, " Our 
dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today." There was silence in the room. It was hard to believe that the long
 war and the occupation of our islands were over. 
When I asked my father where the wireless had come from he explained that it had been in the sitting room all the 
time, in a cupboard under the floor next to the fireplace. He went on to tell me that, when the Germans arrived in 
Jersey at the beginning of the occupation, they requisitioned his brand new Studebaker car but, before they took 
it away, he had very carefully removed the radio so that it did not look as if there had ever been one. If they had 
caught him with a radio he would have been punished or, worse still, sent to Germany. Many detainees were sent
 to Germany from Jersey and never returned. They died over there. My father's car was never returned to him 
but I have a memento - that radio is in my loft. 

The British troops liberated us the day after our neighbouring island Guernsey. It was well worth the wait. 
We were up very early and went out into the yard, where my father was already cleaning the BSA three-wheeler 
and my mother was busy tying red, white and blue material all around it. They told us to be ready quickly as we 
were all going on the three-wheeler to see the British troops landing in the island. This was going to be exciting as 
we had never been on the truck together. My father had always insisted that the three-wheeler could only be used 
for farm work as we only had a small amount of petrol. He had bolted a wooden rail around the back of the truck to keep 
us from falling off and must have worked all night to get ready. It was a fine, sunny day when Grandpa and Grandma Langlois 
waved us off as we drove out of the yard. We were so proud to have transport to take us to see the arrival of the British 
troops. To be honest, I could not imagine what all the excitement was about until we reached the Longueville road where 
dozens of people were rushing towards the town and waving to us as we passed. We waved back and would have liked 
to give them a lift, but the small three-wheeler could not carry any more. My father passed me the horn with the rubber
 balloon on the end of it. It made a lovely raspberry sound and we all took turns to blow it. 

As we approached the town, we had to slow right down because of the huge crowd going towards the Harbour. It was
 very noisy with people calling out to each other, the music of gramophones coming from the houses, the blowing of 
our horn and the noises made by our exhaust silencer, which had begun to split open. I do not know how we managed 
to get through to the area by the Victoria Harbour, but I do remember looking on, fascinated, at the sight of the boats 
coming out of the water on wheels and driving up the slipway by the life boat station. We spent many hours cheering and 
watching the soldiers bringing equipment ashore. I had never heard such a cacophony of sound as I did that day from 
the crowds of people and the vehicles. We moved to the front of the Pomme d' Or Hotel on the Esplanade where the 
crowds were at their noisiest. They were calling out to the British troops "throw more sweets" and every so often, as a 
shower of sweets was thrown into the air and over the crowds, there would be more cheering. The people had not seen 
sweets for over four years. We had stayed on the front for some time, making as much noise as everyone else, when 
my father said that we would go down towards First Tower to see the Landing Craft on the beach. As he had left the 
three-wheeler at the Victoria Harbour, because we would not have been able to drive through the crowds, we walked
 everywhere. We were almost carried by the crowds going in the same direction. 

As we walked along the Esplanade in the front of the Grand Hotel, we saw three enormous Landing Craft like whales
 about half way down the beach. There were huge trucks and jeeps parked up on the top of the beach and vehicles, 
small and large, going to and fro to the Landing Craft. Soldiers and sailors were everywhere. Right down at the
 water's edge, hundreds of men in uniform were lining up to go onto the Landing Craft. These were German prisoners 
who were to be transported to England. By contrast with the cheering crowds we had just left behind on the Esplanade,
 everyone here was quiet. You could have heard a pin drop as the people lined up along the sea wall to watch, 
with only the distant sound of the trucks breaking the silence. 

The people sitting along that sea wall might have been thinking about the nightmare they had just experienced 
for the last four years, about their loved ones, family and friends, from whom they had been separated for those
 four years or about the member of their family who died at home because he or she was diabetic 
and unable to receive treatment for it during the occupation. They might have been thinking of seeing again the sons, 
the daughters or the husbands who had been called up or who had volunteered to join the services before the war. 
Some people just sat wondering what was going to happen next. 

My father and grandfather returned to their business of growing tomatoes as soon as they could after the occupation. T
he plants were waiting to be planted and the French workers were waiting to come to Jersey as they had before the war.




Red Cross-parcels

 Towards the end of the occupation the Red Cross in Canada, sent parcels to Jersey on a ship called the Vega.

 My father used to take me along with him with Duke the horse and cart to collect the Red Cross parcels for the local shops. 

They arrived just in time for the population, many of whom were suffering from malnutrition. The parcels contained mostly tinned

 goods such as Klim, which was a powdered milk, Maple butter, syrup, prunes and chocolate - food no one had seen for years.          


The Radio, 8th May 1945.     




Studebaker below is similar to my father's  



I will never forget the day the adults started acting strangely, dancing and calling out to each other. I was playing

 in the back yard when my father called me indoors to listen to the wireless.  "What's a wireless?" I asked. He was 

indoors by then so I hurried in to join the family. In all the excitement I remember there was a lot of laughing and

 crying and everyone was hugging each other. My father stood over by the fireplace with a strange piece of 

equipment in his hand that I had never seen before. It was attached to a dark coloured box-shaped thing on 

the floor and had wires attached to something I recognized as a battery. Sounds and voices came from it and 

my father told everyone to be quiet because Winston Churchill was going to speak. You could have heard a pin 

drop as Dad said softly "we have waited a long time for this moment ".    

We heard the British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, say, " our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed 

today." There was silence in the room. It was hard to believe that the long war and the occupation of our 

islands were over. When I asked my father where the wireless had come from he explained that it had been 

in the sitting room all the time, in a cupboard under the floor next to the fireplace. He went on to tell me that, when 

the Germans arrived in Jersey at the beginning of the occupation, they requisitioned his brand new Studebaker car but,

 before they took it away, he had very carefully removed the radio so that it did not look as if there had ever been one. 

If they had caught him with a radio he would have been punished or, worse still, sent to Germany. Many detainees were

 sent to Germany from Jersey and never returned. They died over there. My father's car was never returned to him but 

I have a memento - that radio is in my loft.    

Infill    

Over 67,000 mines were laid around the island, The Organization Todt used up to 6,000 slave workers, mainly 

Russians and Spanish Republicans. British Intelligence estimated the death rate amongst slave workers to be 

40%. 1,200 people, British-born islanders, were deported to Germany. There were more than 140 attempts by 

islanders to escape - but it was extremely dangerous. Nine people drowned, 24 were imprisoned, and one was shot 

on the beach. The Germans insisted that it was not their responsibility to feed the islanders, whilst Churchill was 

determined to let the Germans starve - even if this meant that the islanders starved too.    


What a day! Liberation Day, 9th May.    

The British troops liberated us the day after our neighbouring island Guernsey. It was well worth the wait. We were 

up very early and went out into the yard, where my father was already cleaning the BSA three-wheeler and my 

mother was busy tying red, white and blue material all around it. They told us to be ready quickly as we were all

 going on the three-wheeler to see the British troops landing in the island. This was going to be exciting as we had 

never been on the truck together. My father had always insisted that the three-wheeler could only be used for farm 

work as we only had a small amount of petrol. He had bolted a wooden rail around the back of the truck to keep us 

from falling off and must have worked all night to get ready.  It was a fine, sunny day when Grandpa and Grandma 

Langlois waved us off as we drove out of the yard. We were so proud to have transport to take us to see the arrival 

of the British troops.  To be honest, I could not imagine what all the excitement was about until we reached the 

Longueville road where dozens of people were rushing towards the town and waving to us as we passed. We 

waved back and would have liked to have given them a lift, but the small three-wheeler could not carry any more. My 

father passed me the horn with the rubber balloon on the end of it. It made a lovely raspberry sound and we all took 

turns to blow it.    



I hate this picture of my mother taken soon after we were liberated after the occupation, she must have lost four or five stone through strain and stress.

















As we approached the town, we had to slow right down because of the huge crowd going towards the Harbour. It was very noisy with people calling out to each other, the music of gramophones coming from the houses, the blowing of our horn and the noises made by our exhaust silencer which had begun to split open.    

I do not know how we managed to get through to the area by the Victoria Harbour, but I do remember looking on, fascinated, at the sight of the boats coming out of the water on wheels and driving up the slipway by the life boat station. We spent many hours cheering and watching the soldiers bringing equipment ashore. I had never heard such a cacophony of sound as I did that day from the crowds of people and the vehicles. We moved to the front of the Pomme d' Or Hotel on the Esplanade where the crowds were at their noisiest. They were calling out to the British troops "throw more sweets" and every so often, as a shower of sweets was thrown into the air and over the crowds, there would be more cheering. The people had not seen sweets for over four years. We had stayed on the front for some time, making as much noise as everyone else, when my father said that we would go down towards First Tower to see the Landing Craft on the beach. As he had left the three-wheeler at the Victoria Harbour, because we would not have been able to drive through the crowds, we walked everywhere. We were almost carried by the crowds going in the same direction.   

 

What a sight    

As we walked along the Esplanade in the front of the Grand Hotel, we saw three enormous Landing Craft like whales about half way down the beach. There were huge trucks and jeeps parked up on the top of the beach and vehicles, small and large, going to and fro to the Landing Craft. Soldiers and sailors were everywhere. Right down at the water's edge, hundreds of men in uniform were lining up to go onto the Landing Craft. These were German prisoners who were to be transported to England. By contrast with the cheering crowds we had just left behind on the Esplanade, everyone here was quiet. You could have heard a pin drop as the people lined up along the sea wall to watch, with only the distant sound of the trucks breaking the silence.     


Reflection    

The people sitting along that sea wall might have been thinking about the nightmare  they had just experienced for the last four years, about their loved ones, family and  friends, from whom they had been separated for those four years or about the    member of their family who died at home because he or she was diabetic and unable  to receive treatment for it during the occupation. They might have been thinking of seeing again the sons, the daughters or the husbands who had been called up or who  had volunteered to join the services before the war. Some people just sat wondering what was going to happen next.    Back to normal (if we ever could be) my father and grandfather returned to their business of growing tomatoes as soon as they could after the occupation. The plants were waiting to be planted and the French workers were waiting to come to Jersey as they had before the war. Transport had to be arranged for carting the plants and bamboo canes to the fields so they went to a machinery sale at Springfield Sports Ground and returned to the farm with a few lorries and other bits and pieces.        

This was part of their shopping list.    

Lorries ... 

1x M.A.N. (German) diesel, long wheelbase, flat platform. It was used occasionally for heavy loads but was difficult to get started.    It spent most of its time in the farm garage and finally ended up in a field rotting away. 

  1x Studebaker (US) petrol, six-wheeler. Used every day and easy to drive.    It was ideal for driving over the land with its twin rear axles    but not the sort of truck you would use to go down to pick    up the weekly shopping from the local shop. When cash got    short my father sold it to a haulage contractor who used it for many years.        


Studebaker truck similar to the one below           


   6x Krupps (German) petrol, troop carrier, wheeled version of the half-track.  These were my favourites.  They had fold-flat windscreens and removable hoods and were so adaptable; they were used for carrying produce such as tomatoes in from the fields without too much bouncing about due to their fantastic suspension and their six wheels.  They were also used to collect vraic (seaweed) on the beach from the right hand corner of Havre des Pas near the Fort d'Auvergne hotel. After a good storm the vraic would have been driven into that corner up to three feet high, making    it easier to load onto the lorries. The loads could not be any higher than four feet because of the restricted height of the Havre des Pas swimming pool Bridge under which the lorries had to pass to return to the slipway.          

Krupp troop carrier, similar to the one below  

        


1x Lancia (Italian) diesel, long wheelbase, flat platform lorry with a hand primed hydraulic starter motor. It was used half a dozen times and the last    I saw of it was when it was being towed out of the yard at Sion Hall after being parked there for many years.        

1x Make unknown, charcoal powered, (converted from petrol) small flat    platform truck that Grandma was not happy with as it made a    mess when it was parked in the yard and people would walk    through the tar or pitch that it dropped on the ground. I never    did see it on the road.     

1x Dodge (Canadian) petrol, long wheelbase, flat platform, converted to a fifteen feet flat platform truck. Like the Studebaker, it was easy to drive and my father took it with him when we moved to The Brae. I would drive it around the fields collecting boxes of tomatoes that had just been picked and taking them back to the farm.  On several occasions I was allowed to drive it on the road down to Normans tomato packing store at Commercial Buildings in St Helier when I was only fifteen years old, accompanied by a person with a driving license of course.    

1x Stower (German) four-wheel steering, three-seater radio vehicle.    

50x Bicycles (German) heavy duty with reverse pedal brakes.    The bikes were hardly ever used, maybe only ten at    the most, the rest were left to rust in the shed.    

Various types of trailers, carpentry tools, garage and machine tools, grease.    

Electric motors, miles of cables, winches with cables from barrage balloons.    That would have to do for the first year. Fuel was no longer a problem, as it was    arriving in huge quantities. The farm had its own underground petrol fuel tank.    


Our wonderful Staff    

























  

A skeleton staff of Jerseymen was kept on throughout the occupation just to keep the farm ticking over. One was called Frank Davy and the other A. Le Lievre. In 1940    they earned £1.15s. 0d. for a forty-eight hour week. They were Jacks-of-all-trades for, with a farm the size of Sion Hall, it had been a full time job for them just doing the maintenance around the place. Now it would be different. Forty to fifty French    workers were due to arrive within the next few weeks to look after the tomato crop and they would bring their families with them. The men and their wives would work in    the fields while the grandmothers or the aunts would look after the children. Those who    did not have the luxury of baby-sitting grandmothers in Jersey would have to leave their children with carers back in France. Some parents might not see their children for anything up to five months.  Their main aim in life was to work hard and earn a lot of money to take back to make their homes in France more comfortable. As an example in 1947 they could earn as much as £8.17.9 for a 95 hour week. French workers had been coming over to Jersey for years and they would normally return to the same farms each year. 

Although many had not worked in Jersey for five years, within a couple of weeks of their being back you would have thought that they had never been away.  When they first arrived on the farm they would go into the building that was going to be their home for the next six months. The first to arrive had first choice of the loft and they could choose for their family whether they would have the left side or the right side.  When they had chosen, they would build a wall of straw 


bales to screen themselves off from the next family and so on throughout the loft until it was full. There might have been as many as six families up there. The men in the family would normally be making the family nest while their wives would be preparing their first meal. The older children were sent out to the fields to pick up any wood that they could find so that their mothers could build up the large communal fireplace to cook their meals. They must have guessed that Jersey had been short of food, and they were right, because when they    arrived they had enough food to last them months. They brought cheese, ham, bread, beans, dried fish and sausage as well as wine, cider and calvados. They invited us to share some of their food with them for they knew that we had not been as fortunate as they. We thanked them for their kind offer but told them that we now had enough food.  They were also occupied and liberated but they 


were liberated a year earlier than we were, although they were only living sixty miles away.

 

The British powers-that-be decided that it was in everybody's interest to let us sweat it out for another year. In that last year many Jersey people were starving and, had the Red Cross not helped us with their parcels, many of our islanders would have died. I have never understood the reason behind the British government's decision to keep us imprisoned for that extra year.  Within a couple of weeks the farm was back to normal. Grandpa Langlois had managed the operation very well, as was expected of him. The family rallied around and so did the neighbouring growers. That first year after the occupation was going to be difficult for everyone. Nobody knew what the future would bring except that it would be a testing time for all. Grandpa had always said that a luxury crop like tomatoes, and they were a luxury in those days, would be wanted after the war as the people in Britain would be fed up with only bread and potatoes. As usual, Grandpa was right. He had put all his eggs in one basket and grew thousands of tomato plants. There were tomatoes everywhere.     

 

Grandpa's Yachts   

Grandpa's passions were the family and his yachts. He often had a fleet of yachts of   anything up to four. He loved to have yachts as some people have dogs. His favourite   yacht was the Callou, built in 1935 of wooden construction, 41 feet long and weighing   about 12 tons. The rig was sail/ketch with a diesel oil engine. It upset him greatly when   the Germans requisitioned the Callou on their arrival in Jersey at the beginning of the   occupation. They used it throughout the war as a patrol boat in local waters and made   many modifications. They bolted a large machine gun on the deck up on the bow and   cut bulkheads away in places for easy access. Grandpa was even more upset when he discovered that the diesel engine had been wrecked. As soon as Callou had been returned to him, he insisted that his yacht should be checked over for booby traps.  He, my father and I went down to the harbour with a load of tools to do some work on it. Grandpa's and my father's first job was to unbolt the heavy gun, waltzing it   towards the side where Grandpa appeared just in time to give it a good push over the edge and onto the harbour floor. It was dragged up onto the slipway near the South Pier Shipyard. In a short time Grandpa had a new engine supplied and installed. 

 

The Langlois family on board Callou 1947 (with the new engine) 





In 1940, 16th June a convoy of ten local yachts and others set off to St Malo to help to evacuate British soldiers from the approaching German troops who were moving rapidly over France.  A second convoy followed them, it was made up of eleven   private yachts, and a Fleet Air Arm craft, two of the craft belonged to my grandfather, Pop Langlois (as he was affectionally known) one the Callou that was skippered by   my uncle, Jim Langlois and the other yacht Desiree was skippered by Bill Cooms.  All of the crews of all these boats must be given much credit for first taking their lives in their hands and without question volunteering to do what they did. How brave they must have all been to go out into open waters knowing that the could be blown out of the water at any time by German aircraft. 

   

Executed  

A young Frenchman Francois Scornet age 22 years was executed at St Ouens Manor.   He had escaped from France in a boat and landing on Jersey thought he was in England and walked up the beach singing La Marseilles.  His remains were taken to France at the end of the war on-board the Callou.         

  

Below

Desiree, 30 ft. wood, built for my grandfather in the 1930's   It’s presently moored in St Aubin’s harbour.                     

Talking about yachts, this fellow turned up in St. Helier harbour from France.  He had sailed his 'pride and joy' over to Jersey - a distance of thirty miles.  I never knew how or why, but he parked his boat and himself up at Sion Hall for several months.        

 

Grandpa's Yachts      

One of Grandpa's crew / friend   

Callou 41 ft. built 1935 wood sail/ketch oil engine   

Desiree 30 ft. wood, built for my grandfather in the 1930's   

Large lifeboat 30 ft. conversion 


Dessie 72 ft. HDML.... Similar to picture above 


St Malo   

St Malo after the war 

 

 

 

Before the occupation, two of Grandpa's Yachts, the Callou and Desiree, were used for transporting British troops from St Malo to Jersey when they were cornered in that part of France by the advancing German army in 1940. The two yachts were part of a flotilla of other privately owned yachts whose owners volunteered their help along with other yachtsmen. 
In 1951, Grandfather's largest Yacht, Dessie, a converted HDML British naval vessel seventy-two feet long, was used on one occasion for a Royal duty. My Grandmother was asked if Dessie could be made available for carrying The Duchess of Kent to Guernsey. The Duchess of Kent had been visiting Jersey and was going on to the other island when mist and fog suddenly came down, preventing the cross channel passenger boat from leaving the island. Guernsey was clear of fog and it was decided to take the Duchess on a smaller vessel with an experienced crew. The crew, including some of the Langlois clan, had assembled on board a couple of hours before departure when a car from Government House arrived with a canteen of cutlery for the Duchess to use on board. Grandma put her foot down and said, "If my cutlery is not good enough for the Duchess of Kent then neither is the boat". I heard later that the driver put the canteen of cutlery back in the boot of the Governor's car and headed for home. The Duchess of Kent heard that my grandfather, the owner of Dessie, was in hospital recovering from a serious accident. She asked that the flowers given to her on her visit to Jersey be passed on to him. That was very thoughtful of her I think. 
Grandpa's accident in St Malo was caused by a mooring rope that was made fast on the dockside and around the bow bollard on the boat. He was up on the bow when the boat suddenly lurched, Grandpa stepped backwards and his foot was caught in the rope, twisting it badly. It was decided by Grandpa, who was always in charge that Dessie would return to Jersey as soon as possible. The journey did not take very long in the dark until they reached the Dogs Nest, from where it took ages to find the way into the harbour because of the searchlights on land which illuminated Elizabeth Castle for the Summer. They were badly positioned facing the approaches to the harbour, thus making it difficult to see the way in. Grandpa did not recover from his accident having spent several weeks in hospital undergoing one operation after another to combat gangrene.