André's Story

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André Pierre Joseph Bihet

12 January 1928 - 18 November 2010

Click here for booklet about André created for his funeral service at St Joseph's Church, Guernsey

Molly's Story is told in A Child's War - a little of André's Story is told in Reflections of Guernsey.  I have extracted the following from 3 different places in the book.  I have paraphrased parts of it.


André was 12 years old, and a pupil of St Joseph's Roman Catholic School in 1940.  He remembers meeting very early in the morning at the school with a small carrier bag containing a little lunch, a change of under clothing and a few coppers.   Children were to be evacuated together as a school with some teachers willing to go and travel with them.  André arrived in Weymouth after a long weary journey.   They got on a train and eventually arrived in Scotland.  He remembers very well being lined up at Dixon Hall with the others, and being looked over by prospective foster parents.  André did not enjoy this inspection and was not chosen, so was taken with other boys from the school and looked after in a Catholic Church Hall on Paisley Road where he waited for news - hoping his parents, brothers and sisters would be able to find him. 

It was at the Church Hall that one day, after 4 months or so, he was most surprised and couldn't believe if he was seeing right, as the gentleman talking to his teacher, Mr Cooper, looked very much like his dad!  He looked again and sure enough it was. 

The family were all re-united and settled in Wolverhampton (3 Melbourne Street).   André was not happy at school - he was slightly built, rather quiet and shy, and his name "André Bihet" made him a target for bullies.  He also had spoken much more French at home, than English, so to the older boys he was definitely a "froggie".  Everyday there were incidents and children can be very cruel.   André could not take his tales home either as his mother (although a good mum) would have given him another bashing!  It must have been very trying time, as there were 4 families living in the terraced cottage, 11 people in all.

After 18 months at St Joseph's School (co-incidentally the same name as his Guernsey school), André left at the age of 14, to work in Gibbons factory, assembling munitions.  He stayed there for just over a year, then moved to Midland Metal Spinning Company where he stayed for another 15 months.

5 years later, when the family returned home to Guernsey - it was only André and his parents that did so.  His older brothers were in the forces, and his sister had married in Wolverhampton  (Therese and Les Salter).  They returned to their old home at 5 Contree Mansell - to find it empty of all furniture.   The neighbouring families who had "borrowed" the furniture did return it though! 

Many years later (mid 1960s)

We were still at Rosedale (a Guest House) when we had a coincidence which André and I will never forget.  A Mr and Mrs Dodd from Wolverhampton booked a holiday and duly arrived.  A couple in their sixties whom again we got into conversation easily.  In chatting to Mrs Dodd, she told me the main reason for their visit to Guernsey, was to try and find out what happened to a "French" refugee boy who had worked in her workshop where she was the supervisor at the Midland Metal Spinning Company from 1942 to 1945.  He had become quite ill and had left work before the war ended.  I picked up the "Midland Metal Spinning Company" as André had worked there and I remembered him saying he had been very ill with jaundice!   André as always was washing up dishes, but when I called and he got speaking to Mrs Dodd, they easily realised he was the boy she was looking for!  There was great excitement and many tears by Mrs Dodd who had worried so much about this little refugee, who was pale and thin, and who just never was able to return to work. 

Another coincidence came to light more recently.   One day I was signing my books at a table at "Oatlands Craft Centre" - seeing me writing, a lady nearby got talking and said she came from Wolverhampton.   She said she had made friends with a Guernsey refugee (again with a French name) and that she had lived next door to the family in Melbourne Street.  Yes, you've guessed - the teenager was André's sister - Marie Thérèse.


More about the Bihets at

The Imperial War Museum recorded André talking about his wartime experience

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