By Gilly Carr
Gordon Brehaut was born in Guernsey on 24 November 1924. At the time that he comes to our attention in 1942, he was aged 17, single and working as a greenhouse worker. Although he had been living in the parish of St Sampson’s, his occupation registration card shows that on 9 December 1941 he moved to the sanitorium in the Câtel parish. At first glance it might appear that perhaps he had been diagnosed with TB. However, given his later activities, he may simply have worked here in the gardens here.
Guernsey Prison records indicate that Brehaut was imprisoned from 28 January 1942 to 25 February 1942 for an unknown offence. Later that year, Brehaut’s registration card indicates that he was deported to France on 13 June 1942. This was not quite accurate: he was sent to Jersey to stand trial on that date. He does not appear in Guernsey’s prison records, indicating that he was deported without spending time in prison first. His charge sheet shows that on 16 June 1942 he was convicted of ‘house-breaking and theft’ and given a sentence of one year and six months. The Jersey political prisoner log book shows that he was deported to France on 1 July 1942. A man from Jersey, Philip McCallen, and Sarkee Alf Baker was also deported on the same day.
Our knowledge of what happened next to Brehaut is based entirely on the French prison records. He was sent first to Caen Prison for a fortnight, from 2 July to 15 July 1942. On 16 July he arrived at Troyes Hauts-Clos Prison. His prison record there noted that he was transferred to Clairvaux Prison on 8 August 1942. On 13 October 1942 he was sent back to Troyes Haut-Clos Prison. While here, his prison card showed that he had several spells in hospital: from 22 January 1943 to 8 February 1943 and 9 August 1943 to 9 September 1943. Were these connected with his earlier address at the sanatorium in Guernsey? Did he perhaps have TB after all?
Although Brehaut’s sentence was supposed to end on 15 December 1943, his prison card from Troyes states that he was transferred to Châlons sur Marne Prison on 22 December 1943. We have no information about what happened next. It is likely that either Brehaut was returned to the Channel Islands, or, more likely for this point in the war, that he was transferred to Saint-Denis Internment Camp in Paris. This was the pathway followed by other Islanders sent to his combination of prisons, such as Harry Featherstone, Edwin Lawrence, Archibald Tardif and John Draper. If this was Brehaut’s experience, he would have remained in Saint-Denis until the camp was liberated by the Americans in August 1944 and repatriated to the UK until the end of the war, after which he would have been able to return to Guernsey.
Gordon Brehaut’s occupation registration form, Guernsey Archives.
Gordon Brehaut’s charge sheet, copyright Guernsey Archives, ref. CC14-05/133.
List of Admissions (Guernsey Prison), Guernsey Archives ref. HA/P/08-03.
Gordon Brehaut’s entry, Jersey’s political prisoner log book, Jersey Archives ref. D/AG/B7/7.
Gordon Brehaut’s records at Caen Prison, Calvados Archives ref. 1664 w 35.
Gordon Brehaut’s records at Troyes Hauts-Clos Prison, Archives Départementales de l’Aube, Troyes, ref. 1039W14 & 18.