By Gilly Carr
Cyril Cornelius O’Callaghan was born in London on 4 October 1909. At the time of the registration of Islanders in January 1941, O’Callaghan was married to Lucie O’Callaghan née Barker, also born in London. O’Callaghan worked as a builder’s general foreman. He lived in St Brelade with his wife and two children, Michael and Muriel, both of whom were born in Jersey in 1931 and 1933 respectively.
Our knowledge of O’Callaghan is very slight. He comes to our attention only because of an entry in Jersey’s political prisoner logbook, which indicates that he was put in prison, tried and convicted on 20 April 1943 and, on 5 May 1943, deported to France under German military escort on a charge of theft, for which he was given a six month sentence. No charge sheets in his name survive.
We have absolutely no knowledge at all of what happened to him after this. No further records in his name have yet been located. No records in his name have been found in the International Tracing Service, which perhaps hints at incarceration only in France and not further afield.
Our only clue as to his possible trajectory lies in those deported with him that day: Vivienne Mylne (given a ten-month sentence for failure to surrender a camera and spreading the news); Francis Le Flock (given an 8-month sentence for failing to surrender a wireless set); Arthur Dimery (sentenced to three months for listening to the radio and spreading the news); and John Nicolle (sentenced to three years for failing to surrender a wireless set and for manufacturing leaflets). All of these people were associated with radio offences and had a different length sentence to O’Callaghan. However, every single one of these people were sent first to Saint-Lô Prison, the records of which were destroyed when the prison was bombed. Three of the four – those with the shorter sentences – were sent thereafter to Troyes Haut-Clos Prison after just one week. While Mylne’s sentence was remitted and she was allowed back to Jersey, Dimery and Le Flock were sent on to Châlons-sur-Marne Prison for just over a month (Dimery) or 8 months (Le Flock), followed by Saint-Denis Civilian Internment Camp outside Paris. It seems extremely likely that this – or part of it – was also Cyril O’Callaghan’s trajectory. We know for sure that he was in Saint-Denis, providing further evidence, but his date of arrival is unknown.
Therefore, on the basis that the records of Troyes Haut-Clos Prison have been examined by the Frank Falla Archive already and O’Callaghan’s records were not found, it is assumed that, as a minimum, O’Callaghan was at St-Lô Prison with the others.
Cyril O’Callaghan’s family is invited to get in touch with the Frank Falla Archive to solve the mystery of his trajectory of internment and confirm that he returned safely to Jersey at the end of the war.
Cyril O’Callaghan, registration card, copyright Jersey Archives ref. St.B/3/705.
Cyril O’Callaghan, registration form, copyright Jersey Archives ref. St/B/3/707.
Cyril O’Callaghan, entry in Political Prisoners’ logbook, copyright Jersey Archives ref. D/AG/B7/7.