By Gilly Carr
Georges Sugdury was born in Kharkiv, in the Ukraine, to a Greek father, Pericles Sugdury, and French mother, Emilie Jean; there had been a sizable population of Greeks in Ukraine for centuries such that, by 1926, over 200,000 lived in the country according to a Soviet census. However, most of those in the country at that time were more recent economic migrants.
Our knowledge of his life is restricted to the information on his Aliens registration card and genealogy websites; we know very little about this man. However, a private genealogy website which focuses on the family tree of Sugdury suggests that he grew up in Constantinople and married on 31 July 1911 in Paris. His marriage was, apparently, an arranged one, but ultimately unsuccessful. His wife was Marie Christine Chryssoveloni, a woman born on 19 August 1887 in Braila, Romania, close to the Ukrainian border. She, unlike Sugdury, was from a wealthy family, but, like Sugdury, had Greek heritage.
Georges Sugdury worked for the Ralli Brothers company, a very successful merchant business. They had operations in India, and Sugdury moved there, marrying his wife while on leave, although by the time of the Balkan wars of October 1912-July 1913, he was serving as a clerk in Athens. On 8 November 1912, the couple’s daughter was born: Marie-Yvonne Sugdury. The couple settled in France in December 1913 and a second child, Jean Sugdury, was born in 1922, in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Sugdury’s Aliens card tells us that he arrived in Jersey from an earlier address in Paris on 2 November 1936, having arrived in the UK on 1 November 1936. His Greek passport had been issued in London on 19 August 1934. We observe that he made regular trips to France from Jersey before the German Occupation. Was he visiting his wife, children and grandchildren? His wife did not move to Jersey with him and so we might imagine that their marriage had broken down by this period.
Georges Sugdury nonetheless declared himself to be married on his Aliens registration card and on his Occupation identity card. However, he lived with Lola Ruth Mackenzie née Day, a widow born in London in 1895. We cannot say what their relationship was; it seems unlikely that she was his housekeeper as her occupation registration form tells us that she did not have an occupation. They may have been friends or in a relationship; either way, she also lived with him after the Occupation and was the only benefactor of his will.
Sugdury comes to our attention because his Aliens registration card tells us that he left Jersey on 30 April 1942 for France; his occupation registration card notes the date as 2 January 1942. We cannot say which date is correct and we do not know why he left the island. However, there are three possible explanations. The first is that he was deported for offending against the occupying authorities. However, there are no court or prison records in his name, although the Germans did deport people without leaving such traces. We might also note that his name does not appear in the records of the International Tracing Service, although these records are not infallible in recording those deported to Nazi prisons and camps. The second option is that Sugdury volunteered to work for the Germans abroad. This, too, seems unlikely given that he was already retired and had a partner in Jersey, unless he had little choice. The third option is that he somehow got permission to leave the island to live with family in France, abandoning Lola Mackenzie. We are thus left with three unlikely options to explain his departure from Jersey during the Occupation, but the answer must lie with one of these. Perhaps, as a merchant who made regular trips to France before the Occupation, the Germans forced him to reside in France and work for them as a merchant?
We have three final pieces of information about Georges Sugdury. The first is that he returned to his old address in Jersey from the UK on 25 July 1945; two days earlier he was reported as being in Granville, awaiting passage to Jersey. By December 1946 he had moved to St Brelade with Lola and written his will. Our second piece of information is that Georges Sugdury took his own life on 26 July 1949. Was he suffering a form of PTSD following his wartime experiences? News of his death and subsequent inquest was reported in the Jersey Evening Post on 28 July 1949. As well as painting a rather graphic image of how he chose to take his own life, the newspaper reported that he was ‘deported during the war and since then had complained of depression, lack of concentration and loss of memory, and these things worried him very much.’ Georges Sugdury also left behind a letter to the police which stated that ‘since he returned to Jersey in 1945 he had felt his brain going soft and it had been getting softer every day, so he decided to commit suicide.’ While we might be tempted to classify some of these symptoms as those of PTSD, the newspaper article also quoted Lola Mackenzie as saying that Sugdury ‘was a charming man, but lately had been getting childish; once a great reader he would now sit staring into space’ and that he ‘had been depressed lately and had made vague suggestions of suicide’. It seems possible that Sugdury, now 73 years old, had been experiencing age-related dementia.
The third piece of information which may yet allow us to learn more about Sugdury’s wartime experiences lies with Georges Sugdury’s daughter, Marie-Yvonne. She married a Frenchman, Geraud de Villeneuve-Esclapon, in 1935, giving birth to three children: Henry (in 1936), Roselynne (in 1939) and Francoise (in 1949). His son, Jean Sugdury, married in 1961. Unless a member of this family contacts the Frank Falla Archive, our knowledge of what happened to Georges Sugdury during the Occupation will remain beyond our grasp.
The Frank Falla Archive would welcome contact from the family of Georges Sugdury, Lola Mackenzie, Marie-Yvonne de Villeneuve-Esclapon or Jean Sugdury, or anyone who can shed light on the mystery of Sugdury’s deportation.
The author would like to thank Christopher Long for sharing his knowledge on the ancestry of Georges Sugdury.
Georges Sugdury’s Aliens registration form, Jersey Heritage ref D/S/B1/3647.
Georges Sugdury’s occupation registration card, Jersey Archives ref. D/S/A/26/3.
Georges Sugdury’s last Will and Testament, Jersey Archives ref. D/Y/B1/2/46.
Christopherlong.co.uk genealogy website.
‘The St Brelade’s Tragedy’, Jersey Evening Post, 28 July 1949.