By Gilly Carr
Richard Ogier was the son of Leonce L’Hermitte Ogier, who is known to us as one of the Jersey 21 whose names are engraved on the Lighthouse Memorial in St Helier, Jersey, and who did not return from Nazi prisons and concentration camps.
Richard Ogier was born on 3 June 1920 and, at the time of the registration of Islanders at the start of 1941, he was still a student. As the son of an Oxford-educated Advocate, Leonce may have had high hopes for his son, but any hopes of a University education were dashed by the occupation. Richard Ogier had chronic health problems (which may have impacted his education) and had already seen many medical specialists without a definitive diagnosis.
At the time that Richard and Leonce Ogier come to our attention, they were living at 29 Clarendon Road with Richard’s mother, Emma Lilian Ogier née Carter. Richard’s older siblings, Kenneth and Barbara, had evacuated before the occupation.
The story of Leonce and Richard Ogier is recorded in private family papers, seen by historian Paul Sanders in preparation for The Ultimate Sacrifice. What follows is a summary of his research.
On 12 February 1943, the Ogier’s home was searched by German police, during which they found a map belonging to Richard marked with military fortifications, and a small camera belonging to Kenneth. Leonce and Richard were arrested, interrogated, and placed in Jersey jail where, perhaps overcome with a sense of foreboding, Ogier wrote a codicil to his will on 27 February 1943. The two men were deported on 4 March 1943, an event not recorded in Jersey’s political prisoner logbook. Jersey diarist Leslie Sinel noted in his diary that day:
After being in prison for some time, Advocate Ogier and his son are taken to Paris to await trial on a charge of espionage; the latter is alleged to have been in possession of an ordnance map on which he had marked various gun positions, and the father is charged with ‘harbouring a spy’.
The two men were taken to Paris for interrogation at Gestapo HQ and, later, to Fresnes Prison. Their interrogator, a Major Formanek, suspected that Richard Ogier was suffering from a brain tumour, so he was moved to St. Anne’s hospital in Paris. Leonce Ogier stood trial alone and was given a six month sentence in May 1943. However, the entire charge was so suspect that Ogier was immediately pardoned by the military commander of Paris and, quite extraordinarily, sent back to Jersey. Meanwhile, Richard Ogier was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and remained in hospital until his repatriation to London in November 1944. He lived until 4 May 1966, when his heart failed after an operation.
On Leonce Ogier’s return to Jersey on 24 May 1943, an event also marked in Leslie Sinel’s diary, he was treated by the Island as a hero, which irritated the Germans to the extent that they deported him again on 13 July 1943 – again, an event noted by Sinel. Unbeknown to all, Ogier was at this time suffering from terminal intestinal cancer.
Ogier was transferred to Biberach civilian internment camp via Compiègne, arriving on 16 July 1943 as recorded in the camp register (prisoner number 16506). The physical and psychological shock of his second deportation, not to mention all that had happened over the last few months, was such that his health deteriorated quickly and he was sent to Ulm hospital nearly 50 miles away from Biberach.
Leonce L’Hermitte Ogier died on 1 August 1943; two relatives who were interned in the nearby civilian internment camp at Wurzach were allowed to be with him when he died. He was cremated in order that his remains be transportable back to Jersey at the end of the war, and was eventually laid to rest in St Saviour’s cemetery.
No record has been found for a compensation claim for Leonce L’Hermitte Ogier, even though his wife, sons Kenneth and Richard, and daughter Barbara were all alive at the time of the compensation claims for Nazi persecution.
Sanders, P. 2004. The Ultimate Sacrifice. Jersey: Jersey Heritage Trust.
Sinel, L. 1945. The German Occupation of Jersey. Jersey: The Evening Post.
http://lib.militaryarchive.co.uk/library/WWII/library/Victoria-College-Jersey-The-Second-Book-of-Remembrance-1939-1945/HTML/files/assets/basic-html/page103.html, accessed 22 September 2017.
Biberach camp register, Island Archives, Guernsey.
Last Will and Testament (and codicils) of Leonce L’Hermitte Ogier, Jersey Archives ref. D/Y/A/111/60.