26th February 1946

Pearl Vardon is tried for aiding the enemy

Jersey-born school teacher Pearl Vardon was living in Jersey when German forces occupied, and she fell in love with one of their number: Oberleutnant Siegfried Schwatlo. In 1941, Schwatlo was recalled from the comparatively idyllic surroundings of Jersey to serve in Germany. Unable to bear being parted, Vardon travelled with him. Had she just done that – and only that – she may have escaped jail.

However, Vardon landed herself a job with Radio Luxembourg where she broadcast propaganda, criticising the Allies while singing Germany’s praises.

Arrest and trial

She was arrested on 30 April 1945, the day Hitler committed suicide, and the following February appeared at the Old Bailey where she faced a charge of “doing an act likely to assist the enemy”. She plead guilty and was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment. She should probably have considered herself fortunate, as many other propagandists, including William Joyce, better known as Lord Haw Haw, were executed upon conviction. Another Jersey resident, John Lingshaw, was similarly convicted on charges related to broadcasting Nazi propaganda but received a more severe sentence at the end of his later five day trial.

Although it couldn’t be sure (“it’s possible her motives were not so simple as they appear to have been on the surface”), MI5’s report on Vardon’s activities concludes that “her motive seems to have been the clear one of avoiding as much as possible separation from the German officer with whom she fell in love”.

This may well have been true: upon her release, Vardon and Schwatlo were married.


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