By Gilly Carr
Harry St Clair Dean was born on 29 December 1898 (or 1889: he wrote different dates on different registration documents) in Battersea, London. We do not know much about his early life, but we know he came to Guernsey in 1907, aged 8, indicating that either one or more of his parents were from the island, or that they moved there for work.
According to his Occupation registration card, he served in the army (probably the Royal Surrey Militia) during the First World War, retiring in 1919.
At the beginning of the German Occupation, Dean was married to Lilian Dean née Hardyway but ‘judicially separated’, a term used before divorce was legal in the island. He was working as the publican of The Plough Inn, and living in Vauvert in St Peter Port. His sons were in the UK and at least one was in the armed forces.
Harry Dean fell foul of the German authorities on several occasions; a number of documents survive in Guernsey Archives showing his presence in court. On 31 May 1943, he was sentenced by the tribunal of the Feldkommandantur in Jersey to a 300 RM fine or 30 days arrest for ‘contravening the Price Restriction Order’. Then, on 8 October 1943, he was sentenced by the tribunal a second time for ‘continually receiving stolen goods and black market dealings’ to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of 3,000 RM. If he was unable to pay the fine, a further 60 days’ imprisonment was to be added to his sentence. It seems likely that Dean’s house was raided because, on 25 February 1944, a letter was written from the German authorities in Guernsey to the Bailiff of that island stating that ‘an amount of 12,000 RM (notes and coins) was seized from him last year’. The Germans extracted the required 3,000 from this and returned the rest to the Deputy Attorney General of Guernsey for safe keeping.
Given his two year sentence in October 1943, one might imagine that he had been deported soon after this date, or at the very least put in Guernsey Prison. However, Dean was charged with yet another offence by tribunal in Jersey. In a letter dated 4 April 1944, the tribunal wrote to the Deputy Attorney General in Guernsey to inform him that Dean ‘has been sentenced by Judgement of the Tribunal of Feldkommandantur 515 for failing to deliver a wireless set, for failing to deliver a photographic camera, and for anti-German manifestation, to three years’ and nine months’ imprisonment. Further, to a fine of 3,000 RM imposed by judgement on 8 October 1943, or 50 more days imprisonment.’
Quite how Dean managed to commit this offence when he was already in prison or deported is unknown; there must thus be two explanations. Either Dean’s home was raided (again?) and the materials found in his absence (perhaps he was informed upon while he was in prison) or else Dean had been allowed to wait at home for several months for a place to become free in prison, and committed the offence during this period. Scrutiny of the prison records for Guernsey (and, indeed, Jersey) reveals that Dean’s name is not present. We might assume – without full certainty – that he attended court from home on 4 April 1944 and was deported immediately. Dean’s situation seems extremely unusual.
Our knowledge that Harry Dean was, indeed, deported comes from the list of British prisoners from Bochum Prison in Germany, where his prisoner number was 360/44. A date of 12 June 1944 also appears next to his name, but it is not known whether this was the date when he arrived at the prison, or when he left.
To the best of our knowledge, Harry Dean survived his period of imprisonment.
Bell, W.M. 1995. I Beg to Report. Guernsey: Guernsey Press Co. Ltd.
List of Admissions (Guernsey Prison), Guernsey Island Archives ref. HA/P/08-03.
Prison Entry Book (Guernsey Prison), Guernsey Island Archives ref. HA/P/19-01
Harry Dean’s occupation registration card, Guernsey Archives.
International Tracing Service, Wiener Library, ref. 11356580.