By Gilly Carr
George Albert Ferbrache was born in Guernsey on 15 June 1927. At the time of his registration, in June 1941, Ferbrache was a 14 year old school boy. Not long afterwards, at the time of the December registrations, when he was 15, Ferbrache now worked as an office boy at Le Riches Stores in St Peter Port.
Ferbrache comes to our attention because, on 4 April 1944, he was given a 6 month sentence for theft. 20 days later, his mother, Lilian, was given a three week sentence for receiving stolen goods. In a 1992 newspaper interview, Ferbrache elaborated on his offence. He stated that he ‘stole a German rifle and 35 rounds of ammunition from a States house … the German in charge of the firearm had gone on leave and had left the rifle in the house where he was living. Unfortunately for Mr Ferbrache, another young boy saw him leave the house with the gun and possibly told the German police. The Germans arrested Mr Ferbrache and charged him with the theft of the rifle, which he had hidden and which was never found by the enemy.’ However, in a list of German Secret Field Police sentences, currently residing within postwar intelligence reports in the Imperial War Museum, Ferbrache’s offence was described as ‘theft of cigarettes and food’. This is not to say that Ferbrache did not steal a rifle, but it does suggest that this was not the offence for which he was initially tried.
No record can be found of Ferbrache in the extant prison records for Guernsey or Jersey, but the newly discovered prison diary of Frank Falla shows that he was deported on 12 May 1944 with Cyril Hockey, John Le Caer and Clifford Tostevin.
Our first record of Ferbrache on the continent is in Dijon Prison, from where he was taken to Fort d’Hauteville Prison, also in Dijon, arriving on 15 May 1944. He was now 16 years old. This record says that the court that convicted him was not one in the Channel Islands, but ‘no. 24200 Gericht FP St L 67/44’, the same as that which tried Cyril Hockey.
In his compensation testimony of the mid-1960s, Ferbrache described his time at Fort d’Hautville. He was ‘in solitary confinement in cell for 23-30 hours daily plus 30 minutes walking around the court-yard. Also I endured slow starvation.’
Although he was due for release only on 10 October 1944, he was transferred from this prison 24 August 1944 due to the approach of the armies of liberation. He, along with Harold Gallienne, Cyril Hockey, John Le Caer and Clifford Tostevin, were transferred to Germany that day. Ferbrache later stated that he was told that he was an undesirable and would not be returned to Guernsey.
We might be entirely without knowledge about the fate of these men but, in a letter written from the internment camp of Marlag and Milag Nord in September 1944, Guernseyman Ernest Le Prevost noted that he was in the camp with Harold Gallienne, Jack Le Caer, Clifford Tostevin, Cyril Hockey, and George Ferbrache. The full complement of Guernseymen had been sent together to this camp. It seems that the men were scattered before coming together again soon after in Marlag and Milag Nord. Ferbrache was sent to Giromagny Internment Camp first, but this, he stated later, was for just three weeks. Cyril Hockey was also sent to this camp before Marlag and Milag Nord.
The men were liberated on 28 April 1945 by the British. George Ferbrache was repatriated to the UK and, on 12 September 1945, now aged 18, he joined the RAF, which he left in January 1950.
The Ferbrache family are invited to contribute scans of any photos or documents about George Ferbrache for the Frank Falla Archive.
George Ferbrache’s Occupation registration form, Island Archives, Guernsey.
1942 registration form for George Ferbrache, Island Archives, Guernsey.
George Ferbrache’s compensation claim for Nazi persecution, TNA ref. FO 950/1773.
George Ferbrache’s record for Fort d’Hauteville Prison, Dijon, copyright Archives départementales de la Côte-d’Or, 1409 W 1-13, and (for Dijon Prison) SHD 27P4.
Winterflood, H. 1992. ‘Jailed by the Germans’, Guernsey Press, 3 November 1992.
Prison and post-war letters of Ernest Le Prevost, in the possession of his family.