Three Frenchmen escape

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Part of the 1940 report held in the National Archive

One of the earliest escapes from Jersey after the start of the German Occupation, indeed probably the first, involved three Frenchmen who had escaped to the island from occupied Normandy only to find that the Germans had just arrived in Jersey. Their story is documented in the National Archive.

Report of the men's arrival

Extract from a report about the German Occupation of Jersey

Motor Launch Suzanne

Arrived Dartmouth 26 8 40 1100 hours having left Rozel, Jersey at 2400 26 8 40. (These are the timings given in the report but they are obviously incorrect given that the voyage took 35 hours - Ed)

Unknown owner, but might be a Mr Poole. Tonnage 3 tons approx

Crew

  • LETROURNEUR Henri Paul, French, born 25 10 13 at Mantes la Ville (Seine et Oise)
  • COURVAL Andre Paul Honore Desire. French, born 22 11 12 at Carteret
  • MILET, Clement, French, born 3 9 19 at Carteret

The following information was given by the above three men:

They escaped from Carteret to Jersey on 29 June 1940 in a fishing boat. The Germans began to occupy Jersey the following day, and they thereupon started to plan their escape to England. They discovered that the Suzanne, lying at Rozel, was relatively poorly guarded by the Germans and they decided to make their escape in her. Parts of the magneto had been removed and there were only four gallons of petrol aboard. With the assistance of Mr Richardson, Advocate, of St Helier, they obtained the necessary parts for the magneto and about 30 gallons of petrol.

They escaped undetected by the Germans. They were at sea about 35 hours, having had a great deal of engine trouble.

They brought with them a map of Jersey upon which they had marked with ammunition dumps, gun emplacements, W/T posts, barracks and the German GHQ. They also brought a number of letters from people in Jersey who helped them to escape, addressed to relatives in this country.

A plaque recording the 1940 escape

They gave the following information about conditions on the island:

1 There are about 1,000 German troops in Jersey

2 Parachute troops, recognisable by their badges, are very prominent

3 Morale of German soldiers not very high. They are unenthusiastic and listless

4 The day following the aerial battles in which 140 German planes were destroyed, six German pilot officers committed suicide rather than take the air

5 Civilians as a whole well treated by the Germans, who are trying hard to make friends with them – with little success

6 Two-thirds of all foodstuffs requisitioned and sent to France

7 Aerodrome of St Pierre extensively used by German bombers, fighters and troop carriers. The planes are parked in wheat fields surrounding the aerodrome and the wheat is used for camouflaging them. Planes to and from France never rise more than about 100ft above the water.

8 Very few restrictions on activities of civilians; they may listen to the BBC news in English or French. There is a curfew at 2300 hrs

9 A group of ex-servicemen on the island is planning to blow up the aerodrome

10 The golf course at Grouville Bay is being used as a landing ground for fighter craft

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