4th January 2000

Alfred Bedane is awarded Israel’s highest honour for wartime bravery

Alfred Bedane was born in France but moved to Jersey aged one. After military service abroad, he returned to Jersey, where he was working as a physiotherapist when German forces invaded in summer 1940.

Despite remaining outwardly civil and treating them when required, he was keeping a secret that could have cost him his life. Bedane was hiding Mary Richardson, a Dutch Jewish woman, three Russian slave workers and an escaped French prisoner of war. Mary Richardson’s husband was not Jewish himself, but it was imperative that he not give away her location for fear of endangering not only her life, but that of her fellow refugees and Bedane himself. He therefore pretended to be suffering from dementia whenever the German authorities paid him a visit.

Bedane’s charges all lived in the basement of his home at 45 Roseville Street, St Helier, right below where he was treating German troops – or, from time to time, in his attic. Keeping five people not only hidden but fed and watered, too, was no small task in wartime Jersey so, rather than take cash as payment for his services, Bedane asked his clients to give food.

A posthumous award

Sadly, Bedane never received the recognition his bravery deserved during his lifetime. On 21 December 1999, the State of Israel named him “Righteous Among the Nations” – the country’s highest honour – but by then he had been dead 20 years already. Nonetheless, its presentation in January made him, at the time, the only British subject to have received the honour for acts carried out on British soil. In 2016 Jerseywoman Dorothea Weber was likewise declared “Righteous Among the Nations” for concealing Hedwig Bercu.

In 2010, the British government named Bedane a British Hero of the Holocaust. Sadly, the only recognition he received during his lifetime was a gold watch from the government of the Soviet Union, in 1965, in thanks for hiding the Russian slaves.


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