By Gilly Carr
Edwin John Lawrence was born in Guernsey in 1923 and, at the time that he comes to our attention, was living in St Helier in Jersey, where he moved five times between the time of registration and his deportation. His most recent address was 2 Hillside Cottages, First Tower, in St Helier, where he lived from 14 August 1943. We must assume that it is from here that he was deported.
Lawrence was unmarried and working as a labourer at the start of the occupation. Our knowledge of what happened to him, and our evidence for his deportation, comes from a record in a file at The National Archives dated 12 September 1944. He is described here as ‘being on the nominal roll of British Civilian Internees of St Denis Camp, Paris’ who had arrived at Newhaven on 12 September 1944 from Arromanches, and ‘after clearance by Immigration, Security and Medical authorities taken to the Ministry of Health Rest Centre’ in Brighton.
The record states that Lawrence was a ‘general labourer and working in Jersey until arrested by German Authorities on 22.9.43. Sent to France and imprisoned at St.Lô (5.10.43), Troyes (12.10.43), Châlons Sur Marne (1.1.44) and finally interned at St. Denis, Paris, on 14.6.44. He has nowhere to go in this country [i.e. the UK] and does NOT wish to join the British Forces.’
Lawrence claimed that he was ‘arrested for refusing to work for the German occupational authorities but, after interrogation, the opinion was formed that they were averse to any kind of work and that if they refused to work in the Channel Islands it was not from any patriotic urge.’ Lawrence was ‘being looked after in Brighton and will remain there pending a decision by the Ministry of Health, London, in conjunction with the Channel Islands Refugee Committee’.
The next we hear from Lawrence is immediately after the war, applying to return to his family in Jersey. This application states that he is in the Army (despite the comments made by the ministry officials above) and was making his application from Bradford in Yorkshire.
In terms of any archival evidence of Lawrence’s original deportation from Jersey, the political prisoner logbook notes his incarceration in Jersey prison on 22 September 1943 and deportation on 5 October 1943 following a four-month sentence for a ‘political’ offence. There is, however, a lack of evidence in Jersey of any court judgement. This appears to be yet another example of German forces failing to notify the local authorities of those they wished to imprison and then remove from the Island. This was by no means an uncommon occurrence among those listed on this website.
Although no evidence has yet been found of prison entries in the places mentioned by Lawrence, we need not disbelieve his statement; these are a likely series of prisons for someone deported at this time. Lawrence was lucky to have been deposited at St. Denis rather than being taken into Germany as the German Forces pulled out of France.
Edwin John Lawrence, occupation registration card and form, Jersey Archives ref. D/S/A/4/A6975 & B975.
Political prisoner log-book, Jersey Archives ref. D/AG/B7/7.
TNA ref. 916/2568/4, internees in Germany: repatriation of sick civilians.