By Gilly Carr
Corentin Julien Turpin was born on 2 April 1913 in the parish of St Ouen in Jersey. At the time of the registration of Islanders in January 1941, Turpin was 27 years old, single, living with his sister Rosalie, and working as a labourer for the States of Jersey. Like a number of people on this website, we know nothing about his life before or after the Occupation. In circumstances such as these, the Frank Falla Archive asks his family to get in touch to provide us with more information.
Turpin comes to our attention because, on 18 February 1941, he was tried by the Military Court of Field Command 515 for ‘resistance to members of the armed forces’. In other words, he resisted arrest. While the surviving court records say nothing about the offence for which he was arrested, Jersey’s political prisoner log book notes that his sentence was for ‘infraction of the curfew order and resisting the authorities’, for which he was given a two month sentence.
On 25 February he was deported to France under a German military escort. It was unusual to be deported for any sentence under three months in length and so we can only assume that Turpin must have particularly provoked the ire of the court during his trial. Alternatively, it is possible that his ‘resistance to members of the armed forces’ was such that he was deemed deportable.
Unusually, we have no record at all of which prison Turpin was deported to. Most islanders with short sentences deported at this time were sent to Caen, where there were two prisons. The prison register of only one of these two institutions survive (the Maison d’Arret). The register from Beaulieu Prison in Caen does not survive, and we know that at least 21 Islanders must have been held there, although the majority of these had committed serious offences.
We have no reason to suspect that Turpin did not return promptly to Jersey at the end of his sentence.
Corentin’s great nephew, Trevor Le Sage, has been in touch with the Frank Falla Archive to tell us that, when Corentin returned from prison in France, the experience had a very bad effect on his mental health. He spent most of the rest of his life as a resident at the St Saviour’s mental hospital in Jersey, and he was resident there when he died. Mr Le Sage added that he believed that Corentin was sent to Caen Prison.
Mr Le Sage also informed us that Corentin’s brother, Henri (or Henry) Turpin, was ‘shot by a German soldier, supposedly for breaking curfew at about the same time as Corentin was convicted’. As breaking curfew was also Corentin’s offence, we might begin to conjecture that the two men were together and that one was shot and the other understandably became violent as a result and resisted arrest. Such a hypothesis might also explain why Corentin was deported, despite his short sentence, in case he testified to the circumstances in which his brother was shot. It is important to stress that this shooting was very rare indeed; no Channel Islander was executed by the Germans while in the island, and the couple of reports of shootings in situations like this have been seen as accidents, as they were not authorised. Indeed, it is possible that Corentin was held in custody abroad for longer than his sentence because of what he witnessed, and hence the impact on his mental health after the war, compounded by not being able to be with his family after the shooting of his brother. However, in the absence of any evidence about his sentence, this hypothesis must remain conjecture. The hypothesis is further complicated by the family’s clear memory that Henri’s wooden chalet house and sofa had bullet holes in it, indicating that that the offence of ‘being out after curfew’ was fabricated by the Germans. This indicates an argument between Henri Turpin and a German soldier which turned violent. We cannot know if Corentin Turpin witnessed the altercation. The newspaper accounts of this incident were reported in the Jersey Evening Post on 3 and 4 February 1941 and can be seen at the bottom of this webpage.
Corentin Turpin died on 23 June 1979, aged 66.
Our thanks to Corentin Turpin’s great nephew, Trevor Le Sage.
Corentin Turpin’s Occupation registration card, Jersey Archives ref. St/O/5/103.
Corentin Turpin’s Occupation registration form, Jersey Archives ref. St/O/5/104 & 105.
Corentin Turpin’s record, political prisoner register copyright Jersey Archives ref. D/AG/B7/7.
Corentin Turpin’s court records, copyright Jersey Archives ref. D/Z/H6/2/3.