30th December 1883

Father Clifford Cohu is born

Clifford Cohu retired to Jersey in 1937, having been born in Guernsey and served as a priest in India. By the start of the Occupation, he was acting rector of St Savour – a role he would maintain until he was deported in summer 1943 for publicising the news, as broadcast on the BBC at a time when radios were banned.

The order to turn over all receivers was issued in June 1942, but some brave islanders kept their sets hidden. Among them was John Nicolle, who was friends with Joseph Tierney, a gravedigger at Cohu’s church in St Saviour. Nicolle, Tierney, Nicolle’s father, and a number of equally brave neighbours, kept their radio buried, but frequently dug it up and listened to the news from London. They wrote down what they heard and passed the news sheets about, including to Father Cohu.

One-man news service

Cohu shared what he learned with the patients he visited at the General Hospital. Inevitably, with so many people aware of his involvement, Cohu was arrested, along with several others involved in the so-called St Saviour’s Wireless Case, in March 1943 and tried the following month. Several were sentenced to prison terms, including Cohu, whose sentence was 18 months. This was considerably longer than had been expected.

He was transported to mainland Europe and passed through several prisons, eventually arriving at Frankfurt-am-Main. Shortly before the end of his sentence, he was moved from Frankfurt to a camp close to Namburg. By this time his health had been severely impaired, and he was unable to perform the work that was expected of him. The guards, who had no sympathy for anyone in his condition, beat him as he lay on the floor. He died two days later.

Father Clifford Cohu is memorialised on the Lighthouse Memorial, and the Occupation Tapestry.


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