By Gilly Carr
Francis Lewis was born on 24 April 1914 in St Helier, Jersey. He was thus 26 years old when the Germans arrived in the Island in 1940. We know very little about Lewis’ life, other than that he was single, worked as a labourer, and lived at 10½ Hilgrove Street in St Helier at the time that he comes to our attention.
Lewis was taken to Jersey jail on 22 September 1943. The reason for his arrest is unknown, but his offence is described as ‘political’ in the political prisoners’ logbook – in common with most others. This tells us nothing about his offence, other than it contravened a German order. No record exists of his charge or court martial, leading us to question whether it ever took place or whether the Germans simply wanted to get rid of him for an unknown reason.
He was given a sentence of six months and deported on 5 October 1943 with John Draper (a Jerseyman for whom all court martial charge sheets are also missing) and Edwin Lawrence (a Guernseyman living in Jersey, whose charge sheets are also missing, but who was arrested for refusing to work for the German occupational authorities). It seems a little mysterious that there are no existing court martial records for any of these three men deported to France on 5 October 1943. We might be justified in questioning whether they were court martialled at all. However, as each had a sentence recorded in the political prisoner log book, we must assume that a trial took place, unless the sentence lengths were fabricated to get them off the island.
In any case, the French prison records for Francis Lewis have not yet been located. However, it is possible to suggest that his journey through France mirrored that of Edwin Lawrence and John Draper, as often those deported together with similar length sentences were sent to the same prisons. We can but observe that the trajectory of Lawrence and Draper was Saint-Lo Prison, followed by Troyes Hauts-Clos Prison, then Châlons-sur-Marne Prison, followed by Saint-Denis Internment Camp. If this was his journey, then he would have been freed by the Americans in August 1944 and taken to England until the end of the war. After this he may have returned to Jersey, or else joined the armed forces in England and not returned to the Island for a while.
Records indicate that Francis Lewis died aged 55 in 1969.
The Frank Falla Archive would like to invite the family of Francis Lewis to make contact in order to confirm his prison journey and to build up a more accurate picture of his wartime experience.
Francis Lewis, Occupation registration card and forms, Jersey Archives ref. D/S/A/4/A7106 and B7106.
Francis Lewis’ entry in the logbook for Jersey Political Prisoners, Jersey Archives ref. D/AG/B7/7.
Entry for Edwin Lawrence and John Draper, Frank Falla Archive.