A 287 Nogent, 10th January 1945 Mrs L. Holman
[replied 25th February]
Pardon me for not writing to you at Christmas, but for all that, you are not forgotten. I hope that you had a happy family Christmas, spent at home, and I send you my best wishes for the New Year, in the hope that this year will bring the end of all our misfortunes. I received your long letter and telegram – and thanks for not forgetting us – but I know that you are faithful in your friendships and please believe that it is the same with us.
The first year of your enforced exile, I dreamt about you nearly every night, because I was speaking about you all the time to friends and you were always in my thoughts.
I would be very happy to see you all again, when you are able to return to France, and a large number of people in Nogent will also be pleased to see you, because we all have fond memories of you.
You ask me, dear Nancy, to take steps to have your furniture returned to you in England. I shall ask Mr Dumur when I see him. At the moment there is no way to get out and about, because of all the frost and snow which has been with us for several days now and we are afraid of accidents. I would ask Mrs Dormeau to come with me, as you indicated, so that she could recognize whatever belongs to you. I don’t think I told you that they have a lovely little boy of 17 months and they are delighted with him.
When the weather improves, I shall go back to your house to see what there is in the cellars and what the state is of the other pieces on the ground floor. As for the garden, it has always been well looked after by the Germans who, as you may well imagine, kept themselves well supplied with fruit and vegetables.
Your garage is almost completely intact, except for the doors, which have become a bit warped, but it’s not a big issue.
What I would like is to see you installed again in your house – that would give me great pleasure.
When you come, you must do a full inventory and make a note of all items missing from the house for the purpose of war damages, which I have spoken about with Mr Dumur.
Thank you for sending me news of your whole family and friends. I am very please to hear that they are all alive and well, even though you also have some cousins who are prisoners-of-war and who must be suffering privations.
I still have no news of my poor Stanley, and have heard nothing for six months and I don’t know what has become of him. He was working as an electrician in a factory in Dusseldorf. Is he still there, because he was re-designated a ‘free worker’, or has he been sent to a prison-camp, I just don’t know.
They say that (free) workers and those on forced labour are going to be incorporated into the Boche army. You can see that, from this side, to be forced to fight for them is revolting, and it seems there were some who tried to protest about it and several hundreds were shot – it’s just frightful.
I am so very worried about what has become of my poor, poor little boy and I just don’t know what to do to help him. I have sent messages via the Red Cross, so has my sister, and Teddy has done the same in Paris – and still no reply. Things are starting to happen at the Red Cross here in Nogent, where they have had five messages – let’s just hope that at least one of them is for me.
The shortage of food is a real worry for unfortunate people like him. I have not sent any more food parcels for six months. Some who were imprisoned have said that they were given animal fodder, in other words, barley soup, swedes and turnips, other root vegetables and nothing else. Everywhere it’s the same.
They are talking about the eighteen-year-olds for 1943, 1944 and 1945 being called up for military service. Roland is in the last of those three groups liable to be called up in April – just one more agony I shall soon have to endure. At the moment he’s working in Le Mans in the firm run by Maurice Dalmon, who used to work for us.
My sister and my brother-in-law are keeping well. They came to us for Christmas. No-one was very cheerful, but, even so, we were happy to be together, despite the fact that there was a place kept empty for our dear, absent son – we thought about him anyway, especially as things are becoming a little clearer now.
Teddy came for Christmas and on New Year’s Day, and he was happy to read your long letter and to have news of you all at last.
I see that for Mrs Potter, events have gone her way, and I hope that she has met another husband who will make her happy. She has not forgotten France either, because she is talking of coming back to see us. That would be lovely, but will it be this year?
I want our nightmare to end in the course of this year, and I think that we must still ration the days. From what can be seen, with the mobilization of five million Americans, and here in France the talk of calling up the six year groups between 1940 and 1945 (it takes a long time to organize all that), everything is ready to go.
I was 59 at the end of last year and I wonder if I’ll make 60 before I see my poor Stanley again. He must have aged in the five long years I haven’t seen him. He is 27 now and he’ll be 28 on 26th July.
I have just heard about the sentences passed on those who collaborated in Nogent. For informing, Soraud is condemned to death. Kamaroff, who worked in the Town Hall was condemned to hard labour, but has now been given the death penalty. Miss Choisnard from the faubourg St Hilaire condemned to 20 years hard labour. There are also the two Bonnard women from the Café parisien, Mme Viac, whose husband was shot by the Resistance as a traitor. There’s also the Biet girl who’s in prison – and she is innocent, apparently. Her father says that it’s all because she was a member of the RMP, an organization supported by the Boches. I must stop now as I can’t carry on writing.
Michel Maillet has married a young woman from near Chartres and they have two young sons. Nelly and her brother René Ferré are both married and Nelly has two sons and René has one, and he’s married Dr Moullen’s daughter. The daughter of the surgeon, Mr Coudray, has married a pharmacist. That’s all the news. Oh, I forgot to tell you that Lebrun had been assassinated, because he was a collaborator.
This time I shall stop, as I can’t go on any more.
I hope that Mr Powell is getting better and he is no longer in pain. Mrs Powell must stay fit and healthy, so that she can come and see us.
My best wishes to all
From your very good friend