By Gilly Carr
Henry Yves Rabet was born in the parish of Trinity, Jersey, on 8 March 1902 to French parents. At the time of the registration of islanders in January 1941, Rabet was married, working as a lorry driver, and living at 45 New Street, St Helier, with his wife, Eva Rabet née Du Feu, and three children, Grace, Henry and Sylvia.
There is an earlier record of a marriage of Henry Rabet to Florence Gallienne on 23 June 1924, but she died on 13 July 1936. An Occupation registration card for a Barbara Rabet, born June 1925, and living in the same house as Henry, exists, but she is not listed as Eva’s child. Given that the children listed as Eva’s children were all born before Florence died, we might suggest that all of the children were from Henry’s first marriage but that the eldest was old enough to have her own registration card.
Apart from this, our knowledge of Henry Rabet’s life before the Occupation is limited to the statement he made on his Occupation registration form that he had served in the Royal Navy – perhaps seeing service in the First World War, given his age – and had retired in 1921.
Rabet first comes to our attention because, on 13 September 1942, he was tried by the Truppenkriegsgericht or Troop Court to a fine of 50 RM or 10 days’ imprisonment for ‘infraction of the Order of the Military Commandant in France concerning of the safeguarding of the working peace.’ We do not know precisely what Rabet did. There is a further record dating to 18 September 1942 noting that he was again sentenced by them to 60 RM or 10 days’ imprisonment for ‘infraction of the traffic order and causing physical injury through negligence.’ Then, on 28 October 1942, Rabet found himself being sentenced, for the third time in six weeks, to one year’s imprisonment for embezzlement of petrol. Because he was tried by the Germans, we can assume that this was embezzlement of their petrol.
Our knowledge of what happened next to Rabet is based only on records from French prisons. These show that he arrived at Coutances Prison on 19 November and transferred to Fort d’Hauteville Prison in Dijon on 7 May 1943 via La Santé Prison in Paris, arriving on 8 May. His fellow deportees, Alfred Le Calvez, Albert Marie and George Du Pré, arrived with him. On 5 July 1943, Le Calvez, Marie and Rabet were escorted with Du Pré from Fort d’Hauteville to Dijon Prison.
Meanwhile, back in Jersey, on 9 July 1943, the Attorney General announced, in a letter to the Constable of St Helier, that as of 29 June 1943, Rabet’s sentence was deferred and that his return to Jersey had been ordered. He was released, the Attorney General stated, on 29 June. However, his prison records show that he was still incarcerated at this time. A record has been located at The National Archives which show that he reached Saint-Denis Internment Camp on 8 July 1943 and was released on – we think, judging by the release date of his colleagues – 20 August 1943. There is also evidence that Rabet passed through Compiegne internment and transit camp, but we do not know the dates of his arrival and departure and so we do not know where this camp fits in his trajectory.
The colleagues with whom Rabet had travelled – Du Pré, Marie and Le Calvez – returned from France to Jersey on 25 August 1943. Their Occupation registration cards were all noted with this fact. No such note is found on Rabet’s card, but given that his return to Jersey had been ordered, we have no reason to suspect that he was kept behind in France. While information on display at Jersey War Tunnels, gathered by the late Joe Miere, indicated that Rabet returned to Jersey on 29 June 1943, this is mistaken information based on the Attorney General’s letter.
Henry Rabet died in November 1983 and is buried in St Saviour’s parish cemetery.
The Frank Falla Archive would like to invite the family of Henry Rabet to get in touch if they have more information about him to share.
Henry Rabet, Occupation registration card and forms, Jersey Archives ref. St.H/7/11395, 11396, 11397, 11398.
Henry Rabet’s court records, Jersey Archives ref. D/Z/H6/4/23 & 88
Henry Rabet’s Coutances prison records, Archive de la Manche, ref. 2Y3 /3.
Henry Rabet’s entry in the Political Prisoner Log Book, Jersey Archives ref. D/AG/B7/7.
Henry Rabet’s records at Fort d’Hauteville Prison, Archives Départementales Côte d’Or, ref. 1409 W.
The National Archives ref. WO 416/298/505.