By Gilly Carr
John Joseph Le Caer was born in Guernsey on 11 August 1900. At the start of the Occupation he was living in the parish of St Martin and worked as a self-employed builder and decorator. He was married to Marie Louise Le Caer née Wesley, and had a son in the Royal Navy. It seems that Le Caer’s wife had evacuated to the UK because her name is omitted from his 1942 Registration and Identification of Persons Order form, which asked for her name if she was still in the Channel Islands.
Le Caer comes to our attention because he was given a sentence of ten days hard labour for ‘photographing in the open’, and was imprisoned in Guernsey from 24 May 1941 to 3 June 1941. Later in the Occupation, on 14 April 1944, he was sentenced by army tribunal in Guernsey to nine months’ imprisonment for receiving stolen goods. He was sentenced on the same day for the same offence as Gerald Domaille, who received a year’s sentence. Le Caer’s presence is noted in Guernsey Prison from 25 April to 28 April 1944; Frank Falla notes his presence in his prison diary, and we learn that Le Caer was deported on 12 May.
Le Caer was sent first to Caen Prison, from where he was transferred to Dijon Prison. On 15 May 1944, Le Caer arrived in Fort d’Hautville Prison in Dijon. On 24 August 1944, he was transferred to Dijon Prison once again, before being sent to Germany.
Le Caer’s name appears alongside that of Gerald Domaille in one of the documents in Domaille’s file in the records of Frankfurt (Main) Prison archives, indicating that he and Gerald Domaille were to be released back to Guernsey after serving their sentences. It is important to stress that out of the four known prisons in Frankfurt (Main) in which Islanders were held, we do not know which one Le Caer was sent to, nor how long he was there. We know that he was in Frankfurt in June 1944 from this letter, but that is all. We might also observe that Domaille was first in Frankfurt Military Prison for a single night before being sent to Frankfurt Preungesheim Prison for many months, and was there in June 1944, and that the Islanders who were in Preungesheim were named in his memoirs by Frank Falla, who was in the same prison. From this we might guess that Le Caer was in the Military Prison, but we have no paperwork to prove it. This is odd given that the records of all other Islanders in this prison survive in the International Tracing Service, but Le Caer’s does not. In the interests of marking Le Caer in Frankfurt on the map below, his presence is guessed at Frankfurt Military Prison, but this has not been confirmed.
We know that Gerald Domaille was not released after the official letter authorising his and Le Caer’s return. According to a document at The National Archives, Le Caer was sent to Marlag und Milag Nord Internment Camp in September 1944. We do not know precisely when he arrived, but Ernest Le Prevost, who was there on 30 September 1944, noted Le Caer’s presence with him, indicating that he was not in Frankfurt for long.
Should any of John Le Caer’s family find the Frank Falla Archive, we invite them to get in touch to provide us with more information about him.
John Le Caer’s occupation registration forms, Guernsey Island Archives.
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
John Le Caer’s charge sheet, Guernsey Island Archives ref. CC14-05/337.
Records of John Le Caer, Fort d’Hautville, Archives Départmentales Côte d’Or ref. 1409 W.
Records of John Le Caer, Frankfurt (Main), ref. hhstaw/4/61/18524/009/EN copy
Harris, R. 1979. Islanders Deported. Ilford: CISS.