By Gilly Carr
Clifford James Tostevin was born on 28 February 1925 in Guernsey. At the time of the registration of Islanders in October 1940, Tostevin was single and worked as a farm hand. He comes to our attention because, on the testimony of his brother Gordon, he was deported. Gordon and his sister had been evacuated to England and learned about his brother only in April 1945, when the family was contacted to say that Clifford was arriving at Leeds station. They had not known of his deportation. There were also two elder brothers in the family and they had left Guernsey before the Occupation to join the RAF and the Royal Navy.
When the Frank Falla Archive looked into the story, we found no trace of a charge sheet in Guernsey or Jersey Archives, nor an entry in Guernsey’s Prison register, nor in Guernsey’s police records. This indicates a man deported without charge, or more likely in this case, without his conviction being communicated to the local authorities. Despite this, his family testified that Tostevin’s mother visited him in Guernsey Prison, indicating that he spent a short period there. Belatedly, a reference in the newly discovered prison diary of Frank Falla shows that Tostevin was deported on 12 May 1944.
A record for Clifford Tostevin was found in the prison records for Fort d’Hauteville Prison in Dijon. From this we can learn that he was sentenced on 3 May 1944 for insulting the army of occupation, for which he was given a 6 month sentence. Gordon Tostevin testified that his brother had been driving a horse and cart and a passing German soldier had made a derogatory remark about his method of transport. Tostevin retorted “like the Germans in Russia!” for which he was arrested.
We also learn that he arrived at the prison from the Maison d’Arrêt in Dijon (Dijon Prison) on 15 May 1944, indicating that he was deported soon after his tribunal. We cannot say for sure whether Dijon Prison was his first place of incarceration, but many others who arrived at this prison spent a short period first in Saint-Lô Prison, the records of which did not survive the war.
The court that tried Tostevin was not the usual Feldkommandantur 515 based in Jersey, nor the Nebenstelle 515 in Guernsey, but is listed as ‘L 43538 L.G.P.A. Feldg. Dienststelle FP 2 st. P. 75/44 V.L. 173/44’. According to registers of the German military field post, this indicates that Tostevin was sentenced by the Feldgericht (military court) of the 13th Flak Division, General der Luftwaffe Flakregiment on Guernsey. The reasons for Tostevin having been sentenced by this military court rather than the standard Feldkommandantur remain unknown.
Clifford Tostevin was due to be released on 26 October 1944. Instead, on 24 August 1944, he was transferred to Germany. In another document from Dijon Prison, also dated 24 August 1944, his name accompanies that of other Guernseymen being transferred to Germany: Harold Gallienne, George Ferbrache, Cyril Hockey, and John Le Caer. Each of these men came together again in Marlag and Milag Nord Internment Camp the following month, but each had been sent via different places of internment, such as Giromagny Internment Camp or Fort Hatry Prison. Although we have no formal confirmation of Clifford Tostevin’s journey, his brother Gordon has a number of photos of his brother in a camp, all stamped ‘Ilag VIII’. On the reverse, one states ‘all my roommates at Giromagny’, which indicates that this was, indeed, Clifford Tostevin’s interim place of incarceration. Another is dated ‘9/9/44’, a date which fits the trajectory perfectly.
Marlag and Milag Nord Internment Camp was liberated on 28 April 1945 by the British and the former prisoners were able in due course to return to the UK and then to Guernsey.
After the war, Tostevin married and had two children. Although he tried to apply for compensation in the 1960s with the help of Frank Falla, he applied too late.
The Frank Falla Archive welcomes further contact from the Tostevin family, if they have any family stories, photos or documents to share about Clifford.
Gilly Carr would like to thank Gordon Tostevin for his help in reconstructing his brother’s story.
Clifford Tostevin’s Occupation registration form, copyright Island Archives, Guernsey.
1942 registration form for Clifford Tostevin, copyright Island Archives, Guernsey.
Clifford Tostevin’s record for Fort d’Hauteville Prison, Dijon, copyright Archives départementales de la Côte-d’Or, 1409 W 1-13, Régistre d’écrou Prison d’Hauteville.
Clifford Tostevin’s record for Dijon Prison, copyright Archives départementales de la Côte-d’Or, SHD-27P4.