By Gilly Carr
Richard George Riches was born on 14 May 1912 in Norfolk, England. We do not know when he arrived in Jersey, nor anything about his early life.
At the start of the Occupation he was 28 years old, worked as a manager (possibly a wholesale grocer), and was married to Anne Riche née Allen. The couple lived by themselves at 1 Hastings Road in St Helier.
Richard Riches comes to our attention because, on 13 April 1942, he was placed in Jersey jail. On 28 May 1942, he was sentenced by court martial to one year’s imprisonment and a fine of 8,000 Reichsmarks for ‘the sale and purchase without a permit of rationed articles, and for bribery.’
He, along with three other men (Paul Gourdan, Patrick Quinn and Gordon Green), were deported to France on 14 June 1942. They were sent first to Caen Prison for a month, from 15 June to 15 July 1942. After this, Riches was separated from the others. They were sent to Fort de Villeuenve-Saint-Georges Prison in Paris, but Riches was sent, on 15 July, to Fort d’Hauteville Prison in Dijon, where he arrived on 16 July 1942. His sentence was less than theirs and his offence was different. This would have been sufficient cause to separate the men.
Riches’ sentence was due to expire on 15 April 1943. However, he was released, on the order of the German authorities, on 18 December 1942.
A note on Riches’ Occupation registration card says that he was ‘reported returned to the Island 28/12/42’. We have no knowledge of the ten days between release and his return – he may have returned before he reported his return to the authorities. He may also have had to wait for transport from Dijon to Granville, and then from Granville to Jersey.
Riches was extremely lucky to have avoided not just serving his whole sentence, but to have avoided being moved to the civilian internment camp of Saint-Denis in Paris for the rest of the war, which is the path followed by others released from their prisons mid-war in France. His early release indicates to us that not only had somebody acted in Jersey to get him released, but that his job (as a wholesale grocer, according to his Hauteville prison record) was considered an important one for the Island and he was needed back. Richard Riches had had a narrow escape.
Richard Riches, Occupation registration card and forms, Jersey Archives ref. St.H/7/913, 914, 915.
Richard Riches’s court records, Jersey Archives ref. D/Z/H6/3/69.
Richard Riches’ entry in the logbook for Jersey Political Prisoners, Jersey Archives ref. D/AG/B7/7.
Record of Richard Riches, prison records for Caen Prison, Calvados Archives ref 1664 w 35.
Record of Richard Riches, prison records for Fort d’Hauteville Prison, Archives Départementales de la Côte-d’Or, ref. 1409W
Record of Richard Riches, Registry records for Caen Prison to Hauteville transfers, Archives Nationales Pierrefitee-sur-Seine ref. SHD 27P4/02.