By Gilly Carr
Alfred James Connor was born in St Helier, according to his Occupation registration forms, on 22 February 1913, although his birth certificate lists a date of 25 February 1913. At the time that the Occupation registration forms were filled in, in January 1941, he was unmarried, living at 20 Pier Road, and unemployed. Rather than sign his name on his Occupation registration card, he put an X, often taken as a mark of illiteracy, although the rest of his form was filled in – but by whom, we cannot say for sure.
On 18 August 1943, Connor – by now employed as a harbour worker – was sentenced by the Court of the Field Command 515 to three years’ imprisonment for ‘unauthorised possession of explosives and receiving stolen articles’. This was a very serious charge, with a similarly serious sentence. At this stage in the war, to be deported for three years should not have resulted in Connor’s survival. Indeed, he was sentenced on the same day as John Soyer, one of the ‘Jersey 21’ who did not survive the war. Soyer had only a one year sentence.
It is not clear when Connor was deported. His name was omitted from Jersey Prison’s political prisoner log book, indicating that he was taken away without notifying the authorities. It is also possible that he was removed from the island on the day of his trial, without having entered the prison at all. Normally we would seek confirmation in the French prison records of his arrival from Jersey, but without a complete record of these, this exercise cannot be conducted with confidence.
In order to find out what happened next to Connor, we have two main sources of evidence: the French and the German prison records. Connor’s name appears in the prison records for Fort d’Hautville in Dijon for 21 September 1943. Was this his first prison, or did he spend some time in St Malo Prison, as suggested by information at Jersey War Tunnels?
He left Dijon on 19 December 1943 and was ‘transferred to Germany’ according to the prison register. He was routed via Paris, according to the French website which lists citizens deported from French territory.
From here we must move to the records in the International Tracing Service (ITS) to get an indication of his German prisons. These show that he arrived in Saarbrücken Prison on 21 December 1943, where he stayed until 12 April 1944. At this point he was deported to Bochum Prison. The ITS records are silent after this point, although Connor was (according to the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Déportation website) liberated on 7 May 1945. But from where?
According to information about Alfred Connor on display at Jersey War Tunnels, collated by the late Joe Mière, a former political prisoner and curator at the museum in its earlier incarnation as the Underground Hospital, Connor was sent to Fort d’Hautville Prison, then Saarbrücken, then Zweibrucken, then Bochum. However, there is no suggestion of Zweibrücken in the records of the ITS; both they and the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Déportation indicate that Bochum was his destination after Saarbrücken. We might also note that Connor was deported with John Whitley Nicolle from Saarbrücken to Bochum, and Nicolle was not at Zweibrücken, as far as we can tell, although Nicolle did not survive to tell his story.
As the prison records of neither Zweibrucken nor Bochum have yet been located, we cannot definitively rule out a short stay at the former en route to the latter.
Joe Miere stated that Connor survived to return to Jersey in 1946. Beyond this, we know nothing more about Alfred Connor and invite his family members to get in touch with the Frank Falla Archive if they have any additional information to share.
Alfred Connor, Occupation registration card and forms, Jersey Archives ref. St/H/4/4799, 4800, 4801.
Alfred Connor’s court records, Jersey Archives ref. D/Z/H6/6/126.
Account of Alfred Connor, Jersey War Tunnels information panel.
Alfred Connor’s records, Fondation pour la Memoire de la Deportation, http://www.bddm.org/liv/details.php?id=I.164.#CONNOR.
Alfred Connor’s records, régistre d’écrou for Prison d’Hautville, Dijon, Archives Départementales de la Cote d’Or ref. 1409 W.
Alfred Connor’s records, International Tracing Service, Wiener Library for the study of the Holocaust and Genocide refs. 11691589, 18654418/0/1, 11296824/0/1, 11298407/0/1, 11298408.