By Gilly Carr
William Edward Smith was born on 24 March 1900 in Barnstaple, Devon, in England. We do not know when or why he came to Jersey, but at the time of the registration of Islanders in January 1941, he was working as a labourer on Belle Vue farm in the parish of St Martin. He was already a widower despite being only 40 years old.
Smith comes to our attention because, on 15 April 1942 he was sentenced by the Court of the Field Command 515 to six months’ imprisonment for ‘serious larceny (house-breaking in two cases)’. Because he was tried by a German court, we might assume that he broke into a house requisitioned by Germans and stole from them.
Smith was deported to France on 4 May 1942, and arrived in Caen Prison on the same day. He stayed in this prison until 15 July. After this date he was transferred to Fort d’Hauteville Prison in Dijon, where he arrived on 16 July 1942. Although he was supposed to have been released on 22 October 1942, his prison record states that he was transferred, on that date, to Saint-Denis Internment Camp via the Maison d’Arret in Dijon.
Judging by the experience of others, Smith would have stayed in Saint-Denis until the camp was liberated by the Americans in the late summer of 1944. He would then have been repatriated to England where he either stayed or returned to Jersey in the summer of 1945, after the Island was liberated.
The family of William Smith are invited to get in touch with the Frank Falla Archive if they wish to share additional information about his story.
William Smith’s Occupation registration card, Jersey Archives ref. St/Mart/5/410.
William Smith’s Occupation registration form, Jersey Archives ref. St/Mart/5/411.
William Smith’s court records, Jersey Archives ref. D/Z/H6/3/43.
William Smith’s record in Jersey’s political prisoner log book, Jersey Archives ref. D/AG/B7/7
William Smith’s records from Caen Prison, Calvados Archives ref. 1664 w 34.
William Smith’s records from Fort d’Hautville Prison, Archives Départementales de la Côte-d’Or 1409 W 1-13, Régistre d’écrou.