By Gilly Carr
Ronald Staples was born on 2 May 1924 in Lincoln. At the time of the registration of Islanders in January 1941, Staples was 16 years old. We do not know why or when he came to Jersey, but he was, at this point, without a job or means of supporting himself and lived in the General Hospital in St Helier, with ‘inmates’ looked after by the Poor Law Department.
Staples comes to our attention because, on 7 January 1942, and by now living at 41 Broad Street in St Helier and working as a cinema operator, he was convicted by the Court of Field Command 515 for ‘serious larceny’ and given a sentence of 13 months’ imprisonment.
Staples was deported on 5 February 1942 and arrived at Caen Prison the following day, on 6 February. On 15 July 1942 he was transferred to Haut-Clos Prison in Troyes, where he arrived on 16 July. He didn’t stay here long; on 8 August 1942 he was moved on to Clairvaux Prison. Although his prison sentence was due to expire on 6 February 1943, his records show that on 3 March 1943 he was handed over to the Germans, the SD of Troyes.
Staples had the dubious honour of being both born in England and being previously convicted. Because of these two facts, he would inevitably have been on the September 1942 and / or February 1943 deportation lists. However, because he was in prison in France at this time, he escaped this fate. Although documents suggest that he left Clairvaux Prison on 3 March 1943, he arrived at Saint-Denis Internment Camp in Paris on 9 July 1943. We are unable to account for where he might have been during this four month gap.
Internee William Percival noted that Staples was with him in Spittal internment camp, indicating that – like some others – Staples was transferred from Saint-Denis to Laufen and from Laufen to Spittal.
There are records of somebody with Ronald Staples’ name dying in Lincoln in 1949; this is possibly the man whose story is recorded here given that he was born in this city. If this was him, then it seems likely that his health was fatally weakened by his wartime experience. The most common condition of prisoners was TB, and it is possibly the explanation for an early death in this case.
The family of Ronald Staples are invited to get in touch with the Frank Falla Archive if they wish to share information about his story.
Ronald Staples’ Occupation registration card, Jersey Archives ref. St/H/7/3834.
Ronald Staples’ Occupation registration form, Jersey Archives ref. St/H/7/3834 and 3835.
Ronald Staples’ record, political prisoner register copyright Jersey Archives ref. D/AG/B7/7.
Ronald Staples’ court records, copyright Jersey Archives ref. D/Z/H6/3/20.
Ronald Staples’ records from Caen Prison, Calvados Archives ref. 1664 w 33.
Ronald Staples’ records from Haut Clos Prison, Archives départementales de l’Aube, Troyes, France, ref. 1039 W 14.
Ronald Staples’ records from Clairvaux Prison, Archive Archives départementales de l’Aube, Troyes, France, ref. 1360 W 362.