Today is the 80th anniversary of the day that the German occupying forces arrested all of the Island’s police force. Their crime was stealing food from German stores and giving it to civilians. At this point in the occupation the Germans had plentiful supplies of food but Islanders did not.
The thefts of food were initially started by Constables Kingston Bailey and Frank Tuck. Bailey notes in his memoir that it started to get out of hand and practically the entire police force was involved.
Eventually Bailey and Tuck were apprehended on 3 March 1942 by German soldiers who were laying in wait. Subsequent to this the entire police force was arrested on 5 March 1942.
Accounts indicate that they were tortured and forced to sign confessions or be shot.
In May and June 1942 seventeen police officers were brought to trial. The sentences were severe and they were deported to Prisons and camps in mainland Europe. Many suffered life changing health issues from their time in the camps and sadly one officer Herbert Smith died whilst in detention.
Islanders were of course keen to know what was happening in the trial and were largely reliant on the Guernsey Press and The Star newspapers which was subject to censorship by the Germans. The editor Frank Falla managed to get approximately 1,500 copies of the newspaper printed with an uncensored version before the censor had redacted a large part of the article. Unfortunately for Falla one of the unauthorised copies was purchased by a German who was sitting on the bench for the trial.
The case had further impact on the local community as in late January 1943 former police officers and some of the family members of the imprisoned officers were deported to camps on mainland Europe for “military reasons”.
You can read more about the individual officers at the Frank Falla Archive by following these links to those that I have mentioned by name here Kingston Bailey, Frank Tuck and Herbert Smith. Thanks to Jenna Holloway who also pointed me in the direction of her great grandfather William Quin who was one of the Policeman and Adelaide Laine who lives in the house previously owned by Thomas Gaudion.
Recent attempts to clear the names of those involved have unfortunately been unsuccessful at the time of writing. The campaign to get an apology continues and well known historian Dr Gilly Carr is actively involved in this. You can read about this in a recent BBC article and an article from the Daily Mail.
I hope you have enjoyed this post. You can sign up for email alerts to new blog posts here.