By Gilly Carr
Raymond Réné Goasdoué was born on 1 November 1922, making him 17 years old when the Germans arrived in Guernsey. At the time of the registration of Islanders in October 1940, Goasdoué was living in St Saviour (most likely with his parents) and worked as a labourer.
Goasdoué comes to our attention because of his imprisonment in Alderney Gaol as reported by his family. It is interesting to note that his older brother Bertrand was imprisoned in Guernsey Prison for a similar offence. It seems that the brothers were either foolhardy or gutsy.
According to records in Guernsey Archives, on 1 September 1943 Bertrand was sentenced to two months imprisonment by the Tribunal of Feldkommandantur 515 for ‘abusing the occupying forces’. The Tribunal requested that Bertrand’s sentence be served in Guernsey Prison. It seems that Bertrand was sentenced in Jersey given that the Tribunal of Feldkommandantur 515 was based in that Island. Guernsey’s prison records list Bertrand’s imprisonment from 10 September to 9 November 1943. His family have an anecdote relating to Bertrand’s arrest, namely that he ‘saw some German tanks manoeuvring in one of the farm fields. Being curious, he opened the hatch of one tank and looked inside. He was arrested as a spy and imprisoned for 6 months.’ This anecdote appears not to be the whole story given that he was imprisoned for only two months and that he was not convicted for spying.
In order to understand what happened to Raymond Goasdoué, however, we must next turn to the archives of the Goasdoué family, who have made an online record of Raymond based on his memories of his life as told to his children. This resource reveals that Raymond had gone to work in Alderney to look after cows for the States of Guernsey. Bertrand and George, a third brother, stayed behind to look after the family farm.
Among the Goasdoué family documents is a letter dated 30 May 1943 written by Raymond to his mother while working at Jennings Farm in Alderney. In this letter, Raymond asks after his younger brother George but not Bertrand, indicating perhaps that Bertrand was with him in Alderney and was involved in the same fracas which saw Raymond imprisoned in Alderney. No records exist to verify this hypothesis and family memory does not place Bertrand in Alderney. In fact, his niece contacted the Frank Falla Archive in July 2020 to state that Raymond never mentioned his brother being with him in Alderney.
The Goasdoué family’s online resource states that Raymond had a row with an unpopular German officer. Raymond had been eating his lunch and the officer told him to get back to work and struck him with his glove. Raymond hit him back, and was given 6 months solitary confinement in Alderney Gaol, where he had only half a page of a Readers’ Digest to occupy his mind. A kindly German jailer shared his food with him. Raymond later told his children that on many occasions his fellow prisoners were taken out and shot. Raymond feared that he would be next.
While neither Raymond nor Bertrand was deported, the Frank Falla Archive has taken the decision to include his story here to draw attention to the precarious existence of Islanders who worked in Alderney during the Occupation. It was possible for those who stepped out of line to be imprisoned in the local gaol or one of the labour camps, where conditions were brutal.
Three years after the war, Raymond emigrated to Canada, feeling that he had little future in an island ravaged by the Occupation. He moved to St Catherine’s in Ontario to farm and then moved to Calgary. Eventually he settled down and worked for a while for the National Parks. He met and married his wife Maxine, and had four children.
The Frank Falla Archive would like to thank Jeannine Goasdoue for getting in touch to share family memories.
Raymond Goasdoué’s Occupation registration form, copyright Island Archives, Guernsey.
Bernard Goasdoué’s charge sheets, copyright Island Archives, Guernsey, ref. CC14-05/223 & 228
Ramond Goasdoué’s story, https://guernseygoasdoue.wordpress.com/family-members/raymond-goasdoue/ [accessed 3 October 2018].