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24 September 2014

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You are in: Guernsey > History > Occupation > Occupation memories

Laurie Devenport

Lauie playing the saxophone in 2005

Occupation memories

The one surviving member of the Ernie Keyho Quartet, Laurie Devenport shares his stories about the Occupation.

We, Ernie (the leader) Rex Mallett, Hank Reeves and yours truly played for, I think, although I can't be sure, to over 800 dances at a private school in the Grange mainly at Sunnycroft.

The upper floor having enough dancing space for about 30 couples. 

The Dance, (due to the curfew), started at 6:30pm to 9:30pm to get us home before the bewitching hour of 10pm. 

I, living at St Sampsons Harbour was envariably caught but released as they, (the Guards) let me go having seen me so often as I had facilities of listening to the radio and they were wary of me.

I used to listen illegally to the radio to get the latest tunes in my head and before the dance started, played the tune over to Ernie (who had a very good ear) and play it at the dance that night.

The main tune that comes to mind was "White Christmas" as well as several other patriotic songs.


Laurie is second from the right.

One incident I recall was we were playing at a place called "Clifton Court" and one tune we did play was "The Sailor with the Navy Blue Eyes" and finished the tune with "Rule Britannia"!

This particular night we played this tune and the Coda but we didn't notice at the time that a German Naval officer was standing in the doorway looking straight at us.

But nothing was said and he just left. Perhaps he didn't know "Rule Britannia"  - if so, he didn't argue about it. 

We also did concerts now and again at the Lyric Theatre. As it was a public concert, we had to submit the programme to the German censor as tunes by Jewish composers were forbidden.

Little did they know that all the tunes with very few exceptions were by Jewish composers. What had they in mind were composers such as Mendelson etc..!

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