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Eileen's story: giving to others in wartime

A woman smilingRebecca McIlhone/British Red CrossEileen Le Sueur, 95, lived on a farm in Jersey with her husband and young son during the occupation. “People used to walk for miles to beg for food,” she says. “Sometimes you only had two eggs but these people were starving so you’d give them to them."

Owning a radio was forbidden but Eileen was among the brave islanders who kept one hidden to keep track of developments in the outside world.

One day German soldiers arrived looking for it: “They emptied all our cupboards, threw everything down, searched and searched the place. They said ‘What have you got in here?’

“'Oh,’ I said, ‘there’s only hay from the farm, nothing here'. And they took my word for it.

“Every night, we used to move the bundle of hay and listen to the radio. I’ve still got it today. I kept it because it was so precious.”

Appreciation

When the Red Cross ship the SS Vega started delivering food parcels, life improved dramatically for the islanders. Out of gratitude, less than a month before the liberation, Eileen held a fundraising concert in aid of the Red Cross at the farm.

“We called the concert V E G A – Variety Entertainers Grand Attraction,” she says, “as thanks to the Red Cross for bringing us food. We were going to have it for two nights but there were so many people wanting to come that I organised it for four and we raised £306.

“Nothing will ever be as good as when the Red Cross came here.”

Read more recollections of occupation

Find out how the Red Cross helped the Channel Islands during the war

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