A 299 Le Perreux, 4th May 1945 from M. Mar
My dear little friend,
We were really pleased to hear of your whereabouts at last, because you have often been in our thoughts and we have been very concerned about you and our other English friend during these terrible war-time years, with dangers threatening us all around. However, since the Invasion, and especially since last December, we have known that you are all alive and well, which was a great relief to us.
Your letter arriving confirms this news we had and I thank you for thinking of us and writing.
My dear Nancy, you could say that you had suffered a lot during that terrible journey that you had to make in June 1940 – with some temporary accommodation en route – luckily you were with your family – and with the fear of being bombed, which Basingstoke seems to have avoided.
But on top of that, how upsetting it was to think that your house in Nogent was ransacked and stripped of all your beloved possessions and pieces of furniture, as well as your cherished memories. You will certainly receive compensation but, for your parents especially, that will not make up for what they have lost !
We had also heard that you had celebrated your grand-mother’s hundredth birthday. The poor old lady has been spared by the Good Lord to see, shortly, the crushing of the Boches’ war machine. She has seen these bandits leave British shores smashed and broken behind them. All I hope is that she has not had to weep at the death of a member of her family. And now, my little Nancy, the bells will sound the great moment of victory, just as we are expecting at any time, the sirens, that have caused us so much alarm, will be heard one last time, but this time we shall be overjoyed to hear them and bless their sound, whilst the church bells all over Europe will chime their alleluias (but not those in the land of the Boches). And we shall have great joy, such as we did not dare imagine a while ago, and this time our great happiness is for real.
If I wanted to write everything I think about the British, it would be a very long letter and full of praise. We shall talk about that when we see one another again, which will be soon, I hope.
Just a word about us: yes, we have suffered greatly, from hunger, from the cold and from fear. We have experienced cooking without fat, coffee without coffee, some kind of herb used as a tea-substitute, meat that had gone off, black bread, fireplaces and ovens with no fuel to put in them when it was minus 8 degrees outside. We have had sleepless nights, from the bombing and from all the kinds of misfortunes we had but, to cap it all, when we returned to Nogent on 4th January last, after attending Jean de R…’s wedding, we found our house ransacked. We have lost nearly everything of value and the thieves are going scot free! They took silver, jewellery, linen, clothes and a whole lot of objects of great personal value. I cannot think about it without wanting, literally, to be sick.
And now, a word about the Truman family. I am pleased to hear that they are together, that Freda is making marriage plans and that Mr Truman is going to enjoy a well-earned rest. Tell Freda that Mrs Tarquini must still be of this world, because her name and telephone number are still in the directory. I had met her a long time ago in the Théatre français, but since then I have not had news of her.
When we came back from the 1940 exodus, Nelly’s two suitcases were found in the Town hall, where we had left them, unfortunately, for safe keeping. They had been ‘relieved’ of all the best things – dresses, bed linen, material, gloves etc – they contained.
I’ll stop here, my dear Nancy, please remember us to your parents and tell them that they have our every sympathy. Because we have had problems ourselves, tell them that we are acutely aware of the suffering that they have had.
Our fondest good wishes to you and your mother, and please give our compliments to Mr Powell and the Truman family, when you have a chance to do so.