Saint-Lô Prison

Country France
GPS 49° 6' 56.13552" N, -1° 5' 29.1174" W
Address Place Général de Gaulle, 50000 Saint-Lô, France
Dates Active 1824 – 7 June 1944

Channel Islanders Imprisoned in Saint-Lô Prison:

Ronald Beer, Gerald Beaumont Bird, Arthur Edward Clarke, Walter Allen Stanley Dauny, Geoffrey Ernest Delauney, Arthur Dimery, John Draper, George James Fox, George Albert Ferbrache, Stanley George Green, Peter Bruce Johnson, Frank Jolliffe, Walter Henry Lainé, Edwin John Lawrence, Brian Edmund Le Boutillier, Francis John Le Flock, Thomas William Le Provost, Emma Constance Marshall, Percy William Miller, John Henry Moignard, George John Frederick Morcel, Vivienne Gower Mylne, John Birkmyre Neilson, Thomas Patrick Nelson, John Whitley Nicolle, Cyril Cornelius O’Callaghan, Clifford Bond Queree, James Thomas William Quick, Emile John Louis Paisnel, James Tardivel, William John Windebank


By Roderick Miller

At least 31 Channel Islanders were imprisoned in Saint-Lô Prison (Saint-Lô Maison d’arrêt et de correction) in the town of the same name, which is the capital of the Manche department in northwestern France. It appears that most of the islanders were, as James Quick noted, ‘held a short while’ in Saint-Lô Prison being transferred to other prisons and camps for longer periods. Saint-Lô’s proximity to the Channel Islands made it a convenient first place of imprisonment for many islanders who were deported to the continent. The only woman from the Channel Islands known to have been imprisoned in Saint-Lô also left a testimonial about her stay there:

On December 2nd 1943 they sent me to France with 5 Jerseymen sent to do time there. I stayed at Saint-Malo one night, then they took me to St.-Lô and put me with a lot of German soldiers (prisoners). I was the only woman there. I stayed there until December 28… — Emma Marshall, 23 May 1965

21 members of the French resistance were executed at Saint-Lô Prison during the war by firing squads. The town was heavily bombed by the allies on the night of 6-7 June 1944, which left much of the city — including Saint-Lô Prison — in ruins. At least 33 political prisoners were killed in the bombing. The Saint-Lô Prison records are widely considered to have been destroyed in the bombing. It is very probable that more Channel Islanders were imprisoned in Saint-Lô than are currently known, but this is unlikely to change unless new testimonials are found. Much of the evidence for islanders having been imprisoned in Saint-Lô is from other prison records where a transfer from Saint-Lô was indicated, or from their compensation claims.

The entrance gate to Saint-Lô Prison on Place Général de Gaulle (see photographs) was retained as a memorial and has many commemorative plaques relating to those who died in the prison and the allied liberation in 1944. Islander John Soyer escaped from Fort de Villeneuve-Saint-Georges Prison in 1944, joined the French Resistance, and was killed fighting German soldiers. Although he was never incarcerated in Saint-Lô Prison, his name is memorialized at the memorial here on the list of resisters who died fighting the Nazis.

Peter Johnson never returned after the war and is presumed to have perished in a German concentration camp. Emile Paisnel died in August 1944 from maltreatment in Naumburg Prison. Arthur Dimery died on 4 April 1944 in Laufen Internment Camp from supposed ‘heart weakness’, a typical Nazi euphemism for the cause of death of maltreated prisoners. Percy Miller died terribly in Frankfurt am Main-Preungesheim Prison in July 1944. John Nicolle died under unknown circumstances in Dortmund on 14 February 1945. George Fox and Clifford Queree died in Naumburg Prison as a result of the conditions of their imprisonment, on 11 March 1945 and 1 May 1945 respectively. Of the remaining Channel Islanders who survived, most would suffer from a variety of chronic physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorders for the rest of their lives.

Further Reading

Carr, Gilly; Sanders, Paul; Willmot Louise: Protest, Defiance and Resistance in the Channel Islands: German Occupation, 1940-1945, Bloomsbury Academic, London & New York, 2014.

Sanders, Paul: The Ultimate Sacrifice: The Jersey islanders who died in German prisons and concentration camps during the Occupation 1940 – 1945, Jersey Heritage Trust, Jersey, revised and updated edition, 2004.

Sources

Archives départementales de l’Aube, Troyes, France
Prisoner records for Troyes Hauts-Clos Prison, indicating transfers from Saint-Lô Prison, Chemise 1039W 14-15

The National Archives (TNA), Foreign Office (FO), Kew, UK
TNA FO 950/1767 (Beer)
TNA FO 950/1773 (Febrache)
TNA FO 950/2914 (Green)
TNA FO 950/1185 (Marshall)
TNA FO 950/3595 (Quick)
TNA FO 950/1260 (Paisnel)

Gablin, Louis: Souvenirs de la prison de Saint-Lô, monograph, date unknown. Bibliothèque historique, Manche Department, BIB E 205, 273, 661, 667.

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