By Gilly Carr
Michael McGrath was born on 11 October 1913 in Cappauniac, Tipperary, Ireland. We know nothing at all about his pre-war life, but we can guess that, in common with other Irishmen who came to Jersey before the Occupation, he may have come to the Island to help with the potato harvest.
At the time of the registration of Islanders in January 1941, McGrath was 27 years old, single, and working as a labourer.
McGrath comes to our attention because, on 22 December 1942, he was convicted by the Court of the Field Command 515 to four months’ imprisonment for receiving stolen goods. He was convicted with four other men for the same offence: John Coutanche, Francis Ferrand, Maurice O’Connell and Arthur Querée. John Coutanche later said that the men had been given German cigarettes and then informed upon by the man who sold them.
The five men were deported on 12 January 1942. Also deported that day, and represented on this website, were John Woods, Frederick Vasse, and Henry Addicott. The whole group of men were sent to Caen Prison via a night in Granville Prison.
Michael McGrath arrived in Caen on 13 January 1942 and was released on 25 April 1942 and returned to Jersey. A letter dated 8 May 1942 from the Attorney General in Jersey to the Chief of Police of St Helier, Centenier H. Grant, confirmed that McGrath had returned to Jersey.
We are left, however, with one note of concern in the case of Michael McGrath. At the bottom of his Occupation registration card is a note dated 3 January 1944 which states that McGrath was ‘Reported by the German authorities to have left the Island. No advice regarding return.’
It seems possible, then, that McGrath was deported a second time without trial. We know that he eventually returned to Jersey as a post-war identity card for him exists, showing him continuing to work in the Island.
Michael McGrath’s Occupation registration card, Jersey Archives ref. Irish/2/98.
Michael McGrath’s’s Occupation registration form, Jersey Archives ref. Irish/2/99 & 100.
Michael McGrath’s record, political prisoner register Jersey Archives ref. D/AG/B7/7.
Michael McGrath’s court records, Jersey Archives ref. D/Z/H6/3/8 and D/Z/H6/3/55.
Michal McGrath’s records from Caen Prison, Calvados Archives, Caen, ref. 1664 w 34.