There was a sobering reminder this week of both the bravery and suffering of islanders fighting in the present war. Soldat Le Diffond arrived in the island bearing medals for gallantry and life-changing injuries that have kept him in hospital for the last 33 months.
Charles Le Diffond, the stepson of well-known Police Sergeant Baudains, was in South America when war broke out in August 1914. Despite holding an excellent position there, he left immediately, travelling back to Europe to join the French Army. Le Diffond served in the 8e Bataillon de Chasseurs Alpins, a unit with a fearsome reputation nicknamed the ‘Black Devils’ by the Germans.
He won the Croix de Guerre and Medaille Militaire for bravery, but in January 1915 received severe wounds to the right leg while fighting in the Argonne Forest. Unable to move, Soldat Le Diffond briefly fell into enemy hands as a prisoner of war, but was released a few days later following a French counter-attack.
Evacuated to hospital in central France, after 18 months he was moved to a medical facility in Nantes for further treatment. There Le Diffond remained until release this week.
A/A2/20 contains a number of records and correspondence relating to Jerseymen serving in the French Army during the war.