29th June 1940
Three French men escape to Jersey
When Clement Milet, Henri Le Tourneur and Andre Courval escaped France and made it safely to Jersey, their liberation from German occupation was to be short-lived. The following day, German troops landed on the Channel Islands and the three Frenchmen found themselves once again living under Nazi rule. Having escaped once, they were determined to do it again.
They crossed from Carteret to Gorey and were forced to hide in Jersey for two months, living at two farms where they helped cultivate crops while travelling around the island by bike to gather information about German activities.
In August 2017, the Jersey Evening Post quoted Le Tourneur: “we collected evidence on German installations and munition depots and detected work getting on in an old building in the north-east of the island, a possible radar station. At the airport wooden planes were on view while real planes were hidden in hangars”.
During this time, they discovered a non-functioning boat at Rozel. Called Suzanne, it was missing a key part of the engine and was dangerously low on fuel, but with the help of Advocate Philip Richardson they sourced the missing component and topped up its petrol from four to 30 litres, which was enough to see them most of the way across the Channel after a day and a half at sea. However, the engine was far from perfect and the men came under fire from German forces stationed at lookout points around the island. Accounts describe how they had to be rescued by British naval forces who accompanied them to the port of Dartmouth in Cornwall, where they landed at the end of August.
Map of the island
The National Archives holds a record of the account that the men gave to British authorities, in which they described the arrival of around 1000 German soldiers, and the suicides of six airmen who preferred to die than take to the skies and fight Allied aircraft.
Perhaps of greatest use would have been the map of the island on which the men had drawn the locations of ammunition stores, gun positions and German administrative buildings. However, the British seemingly made little practical use of this information during the occupation, choosing not to mount a full-scale invasion of the Channel Islands but, rather, waiting until Germany had been all-but defeated elsewhere and instead accepting the authorities’ surrender.
The three Frenchmen took alternative names for the duration of the war and joined the Free French Air Force, in which they fought in Africa and took part in the D Day landings. Courval adopted the name Saillare, Milet took the name Auvray and Le Tourneur was known as Hennequin.
Almost 80 years later, on 27 August 2018, a plaque was unveiled at Rozel Harbour to commemorate their daring escape.
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Other events that occured in June
Sure is founded as the States Telephone Department
- The States Telephone Department was founded in Guernsey but later provided telephony services on the neighbouring island of Jersey, too.
- Read more…