By Gilly Carr
Walter Allen Stanley Dauny was born on 4 April 1926 and lived in the parish of St Peter. When Jersey was occupied, Dauny was just 14 years old and working as a shop assistant. He comes to our attention because, on 8 January 1943, he was sentenced by the German forces to five months’ imprisonment for serious larceny. Lucky not to have been deported, he was put in Jersey jail to serve his sentence and let out on 22 June 1943.
On 8 February 1944, now 17 years old and working as a labourer, he was again court martialled for ‘serious and simple larceny’ and given a nine month sentence. This time he could not hope to evade deportation.
Research by historian Paul Sanders has shown that Dauny had a troubled childhood after the early death of his mother and was raised by his uncle and aunt, who had difficulty in controlling his behaviour. Dauny’s first conviction was for the theft of cognac. After he left prison in 1943 he went to work for Elsche and Co., the largest German contractor in the Island, who was building a new electricity plant at St Peter. He carried out more thefts, the fruits of which were later found by the Feldgendarmerie when they searched his lodgings in January 1944. Dauny’s landlord had reported him for his unruly behaviour and no longer wanted him as a tenant. Inside his bed-sit were numerous stolen items, including four pairs of German military boots. At his trial, the verdict stressed that ‘It must be clear to the local population that German property must not be touched. Those who offend against this principle must be severely punished’.
Dauny was, for many years, presumed to have died in a concentration camp after the Germans withdrew from France. However in 2013 Dauny’s half-brother Trevor saw Walter’s name on the Lighthouse Memorial where he was, at that time, listed as one of the ‘Jersey 22’. Dauny had in fact survived and had been repatriated to England after the war, where he eventually died age 63 in August 1989, in Fulham, London.
Trevor Dauny said of his half-brother, ‘He gave them hell during the war. He hated the Germans and was uncontrollable in his youth. He would make as much misery for them as possible as he had Germans living in his house. He stole shoes from them, let cows out of fields and didn’t have any care for the curfews’. Paul Dauny, Walter’s nephew, added that while his uncle ‘did not die at the Germans’ hands, he was terribly afflicted all his life as a result of his experiences in the camp and he deserves to be remembered’. Further contact with Dauny’s family by the author revealed that Dauny had been in and out of asylums because of PTSD.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was something shared by many deported Channel Islanders. Although we tend to associate it with those who suffered in concentration camps in Germany and further afield, Walter Dauny’s example shows us that it could be present in those who spent less than a year in a French prison.
Miere, J. 2004. Never to be Forgotten. Jersey: Channel Island Publishing.
Sanders, P. 2004. The Ultimate Sacrifice. Jersey: Jersey Heritage Trust.
BBC Link (15 October 2013), accessed 15 September 2017.
Daily Mail Link (17 November 2013), accessed 15 September 2017.
Walter Dauny’s sentences by the Field Command and Troop Court, Jersey Archives ref. D/Z/H6/5/18 and D/Z/H6/7/32.