Occupation documents released to the public for the first time

    Documents from the Island's Occupation period are among hundreds of records previously unseen by the public that have been officially opened for the first time.

    Documents from the Island’s Occupation period are among hundreds of records previously unseen by the public that have been officially opened for the first time.

    On New Year’s Day – as the Island began a year that marks the 75th anniversary of its Liberation – Jersey Archive was able to open the Political Prisoner’s Register from the Occupation years, which tell stories of defiance against the German authorities.

    It was kept by the Prison from August 1940 to December 1944 and contains the names of 506 individuals, whose crimes during the period were defined as political and therefore by inference could be interpreted as crimes against the German Authorities.

    Until 1 January 2020, the Register and 300 other documents stored at the Archive had been closed to public access under Freedom of Information exemptions for periods of 30, 75 and 100 years. In addition to the Register, the newly-opened records include the 1919 hospital admission register; police arrest registers; witness depositions in criminal cases; and Committee minute books.

    Linda Romeril, Archives and Collections Director at Jersey Heritage, said: “It is always fascinating to be able to study these documents and to use them to tell the stories of individuals who lived in Jersey up to a century ago.

    “In 2020, we celebrate 75 years since the Island was Liberated and it is fitting that in this significant year the Political Prisoner’s Register from HM Prison is one of the documents that has been opened to the public.”

    Many of the individuals on the Register were sentenced by the German Troops Courts, established in Jersey during the Occupation to run alongside the Jersey Courts and try people for crimes committed against the occupying army. The Register includes the name of the individual and date of their entrance to the Prison. It also includes their offence, often just listed as ‘political’; their sentence; age; height; colour of their hair; occupation; religion and birthplace; weight on entry and discharge; the date of their discharge from the Prison; and any relevant remarks.

    The names on the Register tell the stories of defiance against the authorities with individuals sentenced for painting V signs, spreading propaganda against the German forces and listening to radios. Many of those listed were sent to France to serve their sentence on the continent and while a number returned to the Island, some, such as Louisa Gould who died in Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, paid the ultimate price.

    The Register shows the variety of ages and occupations of people who committed crimes against the authorities from those in their early teens to those in their 70s, and from labourers to Advocates.

    The longest sentence was that of Philip George Ozard who, in May 1942, was sentenced to five years in prison for political crimes – unauthorised possession of weapons. Philip was sent to Caen prison in France in 1942 and was then transferred on to Germany where he was at Neuoffingen Forced Labour Camp until 9 May 1944. He was finally liberated by American Forces from Landsberg Prison on 30 April 1945. Philip returned to Jersey and lived in the Island until his death in 1969.

    Two of the youngest individuals admitted to the Prison were Beryl Wickings, aged 14, and Kathleen Duckworth, aged 15. The register shows that both girls were still at school and that they were convicted for political offences. They were liberated after a night in prison; however Marcel Auger, a 15-year-old boy convicted of theft, was held for much longer when he was sentenced to three months and sent to France in November 1942.

    The Register and other records are now open for the public to view at Jersey Archive. On Saturday 18 January, there will be a free talk about the records that have been opened for the first time in 2020. The talk will take place at Jersey Archive at 10am and the Archive will be open from 9-1 that morning as part of the new ‘What’s Your Street’s Occupation Story?’ programme, kindly sponsored by Benest & Syvret.

    Other stories of particular interest in the newly-opened records are:

    Jersey General Hospital Admission Register

    The annual Admission Registers of the Jersey General Hospital give an overview of the reasons for admission to the Hospital 100 years ago. In 1919, the Hospital served not only as the location for medical cases but also as Jersey’s poorhouse, and therefore poverty is the reason behind the admission of a number of individuals.

    The Register shows that often, with no other option immediately available, entire families would be admitted to the Hospital if their mother or father was medically ill. On 4 June 1919, Isabella Shiner, the widow of Ernest Gosselin, was admitted to hospital with rheumatism at the age of 36.

    At the same time, her four children, Mary, Ernest, Jane and Alice, were also admitted as, with their father having passed away, there was nowhere else for them to go. The Register shows that the children stayed at the Hospital for nearly three months before being placed in the Home for Girls and Home for Boys.

    Similarly, the Simmons children were admitted to the Hospital when their mother Mabel Lakeman, the wife of William George Simmons, became ill with endometriosis in December 1918. Mr and Mrs Simmons had eight children between the ages of one and 11, including twins of nearly two, and the family all stayed in the Hospital for two and half months, leaving at the beginning of February 1919.

    Divers Committee Minute Book – Various Committees

    The series of Divers Committee Minute books contain some fascinating information. The books start in 1835 and include the minutes of various different States of Jersey Committees that were established for a short-term project, such as the celebration of a coronation. Some Committees that started in the Divers Committee Minute books went on to become major Committees in their own right. For example, the minutes of the Natural Beauties Committee, which went on to become the Island Development Committee, and then the Planning and Environment Committee, start in these volumes.

    The minute books that have been opened to the public in 2020 cover the period 1918 – 1919. The volume includes minutes of the Committee established to draw up a role of Jersey people who have served in the armies of His Majesty during the present war.

    In it, the Committee decide to draw up an official list of the inhabitants of Jersey engaged on land or sea in HM forces since the outbreak of hostilities. The Committee also look to find a list of those Jersey people serving in the armies of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, though interestingly given the significant number of people living in Jersey of French birth, those serving in the French army do not appear to have been included.

    The book also appears to include draft copies of minutes that were then enrolled into the official minute books. Committees include the Public Markets Committee, Legislation Committee and what was known at the time as the Public Asylum.

    Parish of St Saviour – Honorary Police Register

    Honorary Police Registers give details of those arrested, including the date; name; age; place of birth; reason for arrest; who the arresting officer was; any witnesses; and also the date of any Court appearance and decision.

    The first entry in the Register is from 10 October 1908 and concerns William West, a 16-year-old born in St Helier, who was arrested for stealing £1 from Richard Lews Bryant, who lived in a house which was dependant on Government House. West was sent to Court on the same day but acquitted of the charges.

    The Register shows that even before the use of cars was widespread, drink driving could be an issue. In April 1909, Thomas Bailey, aged 44, was arrested for driving his cart at a dangerous speed while under the influence of alcohol, and then grossly insulting and menacing the St Saviour Vingtenier, Philippe Ozouf. Bailey was given eight days in prison as his sentence.

    On 14 January 1915, Francis Le Bredonchel, aged 35, was arrested for stealing two rabbits from Mary Kenedy (sic), the Dame Superior of Bagatelle. He was sentenced to a month in prison.

    Those people committing crimes who were not of Jersey birth could not only face a fine or prison, they could also be banished from the Island for a period of time. This happened to Paul Lozouet and Maria Lozouet, née Giard, his wife. The couple, who were both in their 60s, were arrested on 22 October 1917 for stealing a large quantity of goods from a number of different individuals.

    The Police Register shows that they stole, among other things, towels, bed sheets, nightgowns, shirts, aprons and other linen from at least five different residences in Dicq Road. The couple appeared in the Royal Court and were sentenced to one month’s hard labour and five years’ banishment.

    The couple were clearly struggling financially as the 1917 Jersey General Hospital Registers shows Maria entering the Hospital on 21 November for reasons of poverty while her husband was in prison.

    In March 1918, four young men, François Henri Bouhaire, Edwin John Mauger, Louis Eugene Jean Fossey, Jean Charles Chilard and Celestin Louis Fosse, were arrested after a night of destruction between Saturday and Sunday, 23-24 February. The crimes that the 15-18-year-olds were accused of cover three pages of the Honorary Police Register and are recorded in detail.

    The crimes include committing a nuisance at the gate of the house of Marie Despres of 101, St Saviour’s Road; throwing mud at the door of the house occupied by Walter Charles Le Boutillier; stealing cider from Philip Gallichan of Le Geyt Farm; demolishing a wall along the Grande Route de St Saviour; placing 15 wooden logs across the public road; breaking a small two-wheeled cart; throwing a skirt and shawl onto the road from the property of Jean Allo, at La Hougue Bie; breaking into a greenhouse belonging to Mrs Logan and breaking a number of pots and flowers, demolishing the trellis on the same property and throwing it into the road; breaking seven young apple trees in the fields of Thomas Perchard; throwing more wood in the road on their way into St Martin; and finally at the property Le Mourin in St Saviour, occupied by Alfred Thomas Starck, killing four chickens and letting out the pigs.

    The young men all appear in the Prison Register for 1918 under the offence of theft and wanton damage. Francois, Louis and Edwin are sentenced to one month’s hard labour, with Jean and Celestin given lesser sentences of a fine or 2-4 days in prison.

    Agriculture Committee Minutes, 1943 – 1944

    The Agricultural Committee Minutes covering the period June 1943 – May 1944 show the growing restrictions and regulations that farmers worked under in the period leading up to D-Day. The minute book covers the fourth year of Occupation in Jersey.

    The Minutes of 1 June 1943 show the labour shortages in the Island, with the Committee deciding that it would ask the Department of Public Instruction to allow all boys aged 14 years and above to be released from school attendance from Monday 14 June to assist with harvest work.

    For more information about the records held by Jersey Archive, take a look at the online catalogue here.