By Gilly Carr
Arthur Dimery was born in Cheltenham, England, on 7 November 1892. At the time of the German Occupation he was single and working as a gardener. He comes to our attention because he was part of the locally well-known ‘St Saviour’s wireless case’ and one of four members of this group who subsequently died and whose names were engraved on the Lighthouse Memorial as four of the ‘Jersey 21’.
This group of people in St Saviour who listened to and spread the BBC news had their main source of news from Joseph Tierney, who was the parish cemetery worker of St Saviour’s church. He wrote out the news he received every morning from John Whitley Nicolle and his father, who retained a radio set. On the basis of this information, news-sheets were produced by Tierney and Arthur Wakeham, which were then taken to Canon Clifford Cohu, who spread the news in St Helier and in the general hospital. The members of the group were arrested over a period of a fortnight, beginning with Joseph Tierney on 3 March 1943. While 18 people were put on trial for receiving and disseminating BBC news or assisting the endeavour, a larger number were interrogated.
The trial – which became a show-trial to dissuade the rest of the population from illegally listening to the radio and spreading the news – took place on 9 April 1943 and large crowds gathered outside the States building in Royal Square in St Helier, eagerly awaiting the result.
Arthur Dimery was, like the others, sentenced by military court martial. He received three months and two weeks for ‘assisting in the non-surrender of a wireless set and disseminating anti-German news.’
Dimery was deported on 5 May 1943 with John Whitley Nicolle. French prison archives show that he was sent briefly to Saint-Lô Prison before arriving at Troyes Hauts-Clos Prison on 12 May 1943. Although he was due for release on 8 July 1943, he was instead transferred to Chalons-sur-Marne Prison on 19 July 1943.
A compensation claim for Nazi persecution was submitted by a sibling of Dimery’s in 1964. In this file we learn that Dimery had been sent to Saint-Denis civilian internment camp, where a record at The National Archives show he arrived on 19 August 1943, followed by Laufen civilian internment camp, where he died of a heart attack on 4 April 1944. These transfers should not surprise us. It was relatively common for islanders to be sent to Saint-Denis after the end of their sentences during the middle years of the occupation. Given the number of Islanders in Laufen civilian internment camp following the mass deportations of September 1942 and February 1943, we should not be surprised by his eventual transfer there.
Although the Foreign Office was aware that Dimery was part of the group which also comprised Cohu, Nicolle and Tierney, they decided that ‘this case has all the signs of a reject, but I anticipate trouble. Mr A. Dimery, according to the press cutting, was deported with Canon Cohu, Tierney and Nicolle and allegedly sent to a concentration camp after a term in a French prison, in this case St Denis. However, from the statement of [name redacted] and the 1945 letter from the FO he was sent to Laufen from St Denis and died there of a heart attack.’
Arthur Dimery’s sibling did not receive compensation for his death. Today, the body of Arthur Dimery lies in Laufen Alter Städtlicher Friedhof, Block V, Row 5, grave 15.
Compensation claim for Nazi persecution on behalf of Arthur Dimery, The National Archives ref. FO 950/1101.
Falla, Frank, 1967. The Silent War, Leslie Frewin.
L’Amy, J.H. The German Occupation of Jersey, unpublished memoirs, Société Jersiaise ref. OCC 942 L’AM.
Occupation registration forms for Arthur Dimery, Jersey Archives ref. St.S/4/480, 481 and 482.
Sanders, P. 2004. The Ultimate Sacrifice. Jersey: Jersey Heritage Trust.
International Tracing Service records for Arthur Dimery, Wiener Library for the study of the Holocaust and Genocide, refs. 70002914, 70002933, 70002937, 76729540, 87752285.
Archives Départementales de l’Aube, Troyes, France, records for Arthur Dimery, ref. 1039W 14, 15.