Details of billeting arrangements

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The Merton Hotel was turned into a hospital for the occupying forces

This is an abridged account from the the Occupation diary of Phil Le Sauteur of the problems encountered in accommodating the large number of German troops and others brought to occupy Jersey. [1]

"The billeting of soldiers in time of war presents a major problem to those who are in authority, the intensity of the problem varying with the circumstances peculiar to the moment. The problem is more personally insistent with those who are to be sufferers in the deprivation of either complete home or partial accommodation. Well was it for Jersey that it could boast of many buildings which it normally used for the temporary housing of visitors.
"These hotel buildings could accommodate a considerable number of people, and at the beginning of the Occupation the number of troops actually needing accommodation was not so very large, so that the hotels could house them without difficulty. This easy position, however, was not to continue indefinitely, although the interval afforded time enough for those controlling billeting to study the matter in the light of what would almost certainly follow — a considerable influx of troops, probably other types of "visitors".
"More and still more German officers and men did arrive as time went on, and despite the very considerable amount of billeting facilities in the numerous hotels (and these were filled to capacity), Victoria College had to be taken over at short notice, this being filled with some hundreds of the Hitler Youth.
"In addition, a large number of houses were taken over, and the occupants given three to seven days in which to secure alternative accommodation. At the beginning, in order to keep within the dictates of International Law, owners were not expelled, but they had troops billeted on them, which in most instances resulted in the people getting out of their own homes. But later on, this concession to law was dispensed with, and there were frequent cases of people being evicted from houses which suited the requirements of the troops.

Stores commandeered

"Numerous stores were commandeered for the storage of foodstuffs, for the steadily increasing number of the armed forces. A part of the General Hospital had been taken over for the use of Germans, but now Merton Hotel was fitted out as a hospital entirely for German use.
"In addition to the troops arriving, many were leaving the Island, and it was noted that these men were equipped with greatcoats, and so were presumably en route for the Russian Front. In spite of this, however, the arrivals considerably outnumbered those who left, and streets were daily crowded with all grades of army and airforce, all trying to spend their worthless Marks in almost empty shops.
"About the middle of November 1941, the Girls College was commandeered, and all householders were required to furnish details of the number of occupants and rooms in their houses in order that billeting arrangements might be made. The arrival of a Red Cross plane escorted by fighters, and a parade of several hundreds of troops with two bands and all etceteras indicated that some important General was making a visit. He was reputed to be von Muller, and he was supposed to have found fault with the immense number of troops in the Island, and to have been responsible for the falling through of the billeting order."

Notes and references

  1. Although the full diary was online at the time this article was written in 2011, it is no longer available
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