When Jersey was occupied by German forces between 1940 and 1945 the local population endured five years of hardship. This is their story.Select an individual below to learn their story about life in Jersey under German Occupation:
Alexandrine Baudains was the most notorious collaborator in Jersey. She was French born and sometimes known as ‘Ginger Lou’ because of her red hair or, more usually, as ‘Mother Baudains’. She and her son were the cause of many islanders being sent to prison, and she made no secret of the fact that she would denounce anybody who crossed her path. On Liberation Day in 1945, while their home in St. Helier was being smashed up by a vengeful mob, the pair of them sought refuge in the public prison in Gloucester Street where they remained for 11 months. They were eventually discovered by Rex North, a journalist from the Sunday Pictorial, who managed to obtain a photograph of the pair in their cell; as a result, their story was splashed all over the Pictorial’s centre pages and there was an immediate outcry. Mrs. Baudains and her son were promptly ejected from the prison and taken in by the Little Sisters of the Poor for a few days. On 23 March 1946 they were put onto the mailboat for England and told not to return.
Albert Bedane hid Jewess Mary Richardson for nearly two years from 25 June 1943, once she escaped from her German guard who had taken her home to pack up her possessions before leaving for a ‘very nice, special camp’. Mary Richardson made her way to Albert Bedane’s house, which was also his physiotherapy surgery that was frequented by Germans. In 1944 Albert Bedane also hid a young Jerseyman on the run from the Germans, Francis Le Sueur, as well as an escaped French prisoner-of-war and a number of Russian slave workers. He fed them by taking food from his farmer-patients in exchange for his massage services. He was well aware of the risks, but said ‘If I was going to be killed I would rather be killed for a sheep than a lamb anyway’. In 2000, Albert Bedane was recognised posthumously as ‘Righteous among the Nations’, Israel’s highest Holocaust honour.
Clifford Cohu was the most prominent member of the Jersey community to have died in a German camp. His crimes included acts of defiance, disseminating information and passing on news in his sermons and ‘preaching against the Germans’. He was arrested on 12 March 1943 and sentenced to 1 year and 6 months imprisonment for failing to surrender leaflets and spreading anti-German news. He was exported through various camps, ending up at Zöschen, a camp under SS authority. Conditions in ‘work education’ camps were apparently worse than in most concentration camps, and Clifford Cohu became a prime target for abuse: he was not only the sole British prisoner but was also a priest. He died from the brutal treatment he suffered on 20 September 1944. A small bible was found pressed to his chest.
On 22 June 1944, Louisa Gould was sentenced to two years imprisonment for failing to surrender a wireless receiving apparatus, prohibited reception of wireless stations and abetting breach of the working peace and unauthorised removal, presumably of an escaped Russian slave worker. Louisa Gould was already widowed by the time the Occupation began and she had two sons, one of whom joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. Sadly he was killed in action in the Mediterranean in early 1941. It was with this is mind that she agreed to shelter ‘Bill’, the name given to an escaped Russian slave worker, Fyodr Polycarpovitch Burriy, who went on to stay with her for a period of twenty months commencing in late 1942. After the initial period had elapsed, apparently she began to feel what turned out to be a false sense of security. Louisa Gould was perhaps more trustworthy than she should have been, and was eventually denounced by neighbours. She was however warned of the impending danger, and all evidence of Bill’s presence in the house was removed, and Bill left for the home of Ivy Forster, Louisa Gould’s sister. Some items had been overlooked, and Louisa Gould was arrested by the German Secret Field Police, along with close friends and family over the following days. Harold Le Druillenec (Louisa Gould’s brother) and Louisa Gould herself were both sentenced, to five months and two years respectively. She was eventually sent to Ravensbrück and her brother ended up being the only known British survivor of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Their relatives still had heard nothing since their departure in June 1944, when news eventually arrived that Harold Le Druillenec had survived. But the fate of Louisa Gould only became known when a woman dressed in black appeared at the Fosters’ door, bringing the knowledge that she had been killed. On 13 February 1945, Louisa Gould, by then an invalid, had been selected and sent to an improvised gas chamber and killed.
Belza Turner took part in the demonstrations of 16 September 1942 against the German deportation of English-born islanders - fortunately she was not arrested on this occasion. However, in September 1943 Belza Turner was sentenced to 10 days imprisonment for spreading anti-German news. In September 1944 she attempted to escape from the island with a Dutchman, Sieber Koster, who had stolen a rubber dinghy from a German boat in St. Helier Harbour. They were adrift for three days; driven by the tide back to Jersey, the German police were waiting for them. Belza Turner was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment, Koster for 1 year - Belza Turner was eventually released on 30 April 1945.
Dennis Le Cuirot
Dennis Le Cuirot took part in the Weighbridge demonstration of 16 September 1942 against the deportation of English-born islanders. He was arrested a few days later with many other protesters, and tried on a charge of taking part in a public meeting and anti-German demonstration, for which he was given a suspended sentence of 1 month in prison. In July 1944 Dennis devised a novel scheme for escaping, having become aware of the frequent transit of French Organisation Todt workers from Alderney via Jersey to St. Malo. He made a point of speaking to some of the workers to discover when the SS Minotaur was due to sail; wearing old clothes and carrying a battered suitcase, he managed to bluff his way past gangway checks and board the vessel. Heavily escorted, the German transport vessel the SS Minotaur set sail for St. Malo but the convoy was intercepted by Motor Torpedo Boats of the Canadian 10th M.T.B. Flotilla which sent most of the escorts to the bottom of the sea and badly damaged the Minotaur, which still managed to be beached at St. Servan. Dennis Le Cuirot was put into a camp with some Frenchmen, but all managed to escape; he then made his way safely through the fighting front to reach the American lines and freedom.
Douglas Le Marchand
Douglas Le Marchand and his friends Michael Neil, Kenny Collins and George Le Marquand attempted to escape from Jersey to France on 10 October 1944. Due to adverse weather conditions, the attempt failed; landing at Anne Port, they were spotted by the Germans who fired upon them. Douglas Le Marchand was killed by a bullet that passed through the boat. The other boys were tried by a Military Court on 26 October on charges associated with an attempted flight from the Channel Islands. Michael Neil and Kenny Collins were sentenced to 10 months in prison whilst George Le Marquand was sentenced to one year in prison. All three remained in custody until 7 May 1945.
Dennis Vibert escaped single-handedly from Jersey to England on his second attempt, on 21 September 1941, using his own small boat, the Ragamuffin. With the assistance of John Moignard and Cyril Queree he moved the boat onto the beach and set off, rowing for four miles before starting the outboard motor. Unfortunately, when he attempted to refuel, sea water got into the engine. From there he was forced to row, which he did, almost non-stop for two days and two nights. After two days he altered course, fearing the currents would take him too far west: instead he headed for Weymouth. It was at this point that Lieutenant Commander Frederick Thoughton on HMS Brocklesby spotted him, and brought him aboard. He was questioned in Plymouth, then by MI5 in London to establish he was not a German agent. Fortunately a fellow Jerseyman, Denys Richardson was on hand to vouch for him. He then joined his parents in Berkshire, before joining the RAF. A notice appeared in the Jersey Evening Post on 10 November 1941, requesting any information as to the whereabouts of Dennis Vibert. The notice was signed on behalf of C.J. Cumming, the Constable of St. Helier, but was issued by order of the German Feldgendarmerie.
In September 1942, moved by the plight of the Ukrainian slave workers, Edward Ross and his wife Nan Ross, resolved to raise the workers' spirits by passing on information about Russian progress on the Eastern front. They drew a crude map using information gleaned from outlawed BBC news broadcasts and during a trip to St. Ouen’s bay, to walk their dog, attempted to pass the information to a group working on the sea wall. They were challenged by German guards and arrested after a chase. During their initial imprisonment in the Gloucester street prison, their house at David Place, St. Helier, was searched and their radio discovered. Despite vigorous denials, the couple were found guilty of consorting without authority with prisoners of war and distributing wireless news hostile to Germany - they were sentenced to six months imprisonment and moved to Coutances, in Normandy. Less then one month after the commencement of their sentence, they were separated and re-imprisoned. Nan Ross was sent to the notorious hostage prison at Fort Romainville, from where many prisoners were transferred to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Edward Ross was sent to Maison d’Arret Prison, Compiégne, to the north of Paris. In total, they served over one year in prison; their sentence finished on 27 March 1943 - in August of that year Nan Ross requested a transfer to an English or American camp such as Vittel. During this time Edward Ross managed to smuggle out a letter to the Red Cross. As a result, they were reunited at Vittel the following November. They, and their new-born son Sheil Ross, were liberated in September 1944.
Joseph Mière and his friend Frank Le Pennec accidentally bumped into a German soldier in King Street, on 19 October 1941. He demanded an apology but they claimed it was an accident; the German became increasingly angry and had both men arrested, although they were eventually let off with a warning. Joseph Mière Le Pennec and Frank Le Pennec took part in the patriotic demonstrations at South Hill against the deportation of British-born Channel Islanders to internment camps in Germany on 16 September 1942. They were, however, released after two days with another warning. In November 1944 the two youngsters and their friend David Dawson fell under suspicion of stealing weapons, and illicit items were discovered in a search of the family homes. Joseph Mière was repeatedly beaten in order to achieve an admission of guilt, before being incarcerated in the Gloucester Street prison. The three youths were tried by a German Military Court at ‘Avondale’, Lower Kings Cliff, 0n 30 January 1945, on charges of continual anti-German demonstrations in company with others and insulting the German forces - Joseph Mière adds to the list ‘smearing tar swastikas on the properties of pro-German islanders’. They were each sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. Whilst Joseph Mière and David Dawson were released on 7 May 1945, Frank Le Pennec managed to escape from prison in March 1945 with Donald Bell and Richard Williams.
June Sinclair had moved to the island before the Occupation and had few attachments and family ties there. June Sinclair was a half-Jewish orphan from London who lived next door to the Mière Family in Midvale Road, St. Helier. A genuine city girl, she was quick tempered and did not suffer fools easily. Therefore, when she was molested by a German soldier at the hotel where she was employed, she retaliated rapidly by slapping his face, and it seems that the ensuing melee degenerated dangerously. Like many other women in occupied Europe, she was swept into the Concentration Camp system and ended her days in Ravensbrück, where she is presumed to have died in 1943, aged 20.
Basil Le Brun
Basil Le Brun escaped to France with Roger Lerouille on 21 September 1944, in their boat ‘La Marguerite’; they were accompanied by an unidentified Frenchman. They were picked up by French fishermen and escorted ashore to Gouville, where they were fed a hearty breakfast before rowing on down the coast to the American garrison at Coutainville. Roger Lerouille and the other Frenchman were handed over to the French Gendarmerie, and Basil Le Brun was taken to Bayeux for further questioning. He was then taken to England where two uncles certified his identity, later joining the Royal Navy.
Lucy Schwob and her half-sister Suzanne Malherbe were arrested by the German Secret Field Police in late 1944 on charges of the unlawful possession of a wireless receiving set, camera, and spreading hostile propaganda with the intent of inciting troops to rebellion. The ladies had also sheltered a young Ukrainian forced worker, Pyotry Bokatenko, at their home in St. Brelade’s Bay. A death sentence was to be pronounced but the Bailiff of Jersey intervened and the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
Maud and Matthew Otter, from Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire, were among the 2,200 British-born Channel Islanders deported to Germany between September 1942 and February 1943. The deportations were on direct order from Adolf Hitler, who was incensed that the British had interned German nationals in Iran, when they occupied that country in 1941. They were sent to Biberach internment camp, Bavaria, where Maud Otter sadly passed away from natural causes, and was buried in the local cemetery. At the time of her death, she had two sons serving in the British Armed Forces, and one daughter who was a refugee from Jersey living in England.
Albert Bedane hid Jewess Mary Richardson for nearly two years from 25 June 1943, once she escaped from her German guard who had taken her home to pack up her possessions before leaving for a ‘very nice, special camp’. Mary Richardson made her way to Albert Bedane’s house, which was also his physiotherapy surgery that was frequented by Germans.
Suzanne Malherbe and her half-sister Lucy Schwob were arrested by the German Secret Field Police in late 1944 on charges of the unlawful possession of a wireless receiving set, camera, and spreading hostile propaganda with the intent of inciting troops to rebellion. The ladies had also sheltered a young Ukrainian forced worker, Pyotry Bokatenko, at their home in St. Brelade’s Bay. A death sentence was to be pronounced but the Bailiff of Jersey intervened and the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
Harold Le Druillenec
Harold Le Druillenec, the brother of Louisa Gould and Ivy Forster, was also deported for listening to a forbidden wireless set and abetting his sister in sheltering escaped Russian slave worker, Fyodr Burriy. Harold passed through Neuengamme concentration camp before ending up at Bergen-Belsen. He later recalled how he grew in cunning and stealth, always watchful, always obedient; and so, in spite of suffering beatings and kickings, partial starvation and near exhaustion, he managed to survive his imprisonment. The camp was liberated by the British army on 15 April 1945 and Harold, who weighed a mere seven stone, was transported to England before returning to Jersey. He returned to Lüneburg in 1946 to testify in the Belsen trial.