'They're not forgotten yet': The niece of a political prisoner looks back on her uncle's life

  • In Part 1 of our series, 'The Ultimate Sacrifice', Sophie Dulson speaks to George Fox's niece, Sandra Wakeham, to find out more about her Uncle.

The Channel Islands were the only British territory to be occupied by the Germans during the Second World War. Between 1940-1945 more than 200 ordinary islanders were arrested, imprisoned and deported as opponents of the Third Reich.

These political prisoners were, along with slave labourers and Jews, the victims of Nazi persecution.

Research by Historian Dr Gilly Carr, found that Islanders had been sent to as many as 125 different penal institutions and concentration camps including Buchenwald, Dachau, Neuengamme, Ravensbrück, Mauthausen and Bergen-Belsen.

Of the hundreds of Channel Islanders sent to these prisons and camps, 24 paid the ultimate price, one of those was George Fox from Jersey.

George Fox was born in 1896 and grew up in St Helier. This photograph shows his identity card from during the Occupation. Credit: ITV Channel

George was one of four children who were brought up in St Helier during the late 1800s.

He came from a family of antique dealers and cabinet makers, a trade that continued down the bloodline. But before joining the family business George enlisted in the army.

George ended up serving in the First World War in France before returning home to Jersey where he married his wife Cecilia, and they went on to have seven children.

George was one of four children and went on to have an even larger family of his own. Him and his wife Cecilia had seven children. Credit: ITV Channel

It was trying to provide for his family during the Occupation that landed George in unimaginable trouble.

Records held at Jersey Archive reveal in June 1943 he was sentenced to two years' in jail for stealing bread from German barracks.

He was deported from Jersey and sent to various prisons in Europe.

On 23 June 1943 George was sentenced by the court of the Field Command 515 to two years’ imprisonment for ‘continual larceny’. Credit: ITV Channel

When speaking of his sentence, George's niece, Sandra Wakeham said: "None of the people who were sent away did anything that we would consider to even be a crime today; they looked at some information sheets with a bit of news, they might have listened to a radio that was forbidden, they might have said something that the Germans considered to be propaganda, George stole food, he stole bread in particular from the German stores."

Following his crime George was deported from the island very quickly and went on to spend the next two years in some of the harshest Nazi prison camps in Europe.

George paid the ultimate price for his crime. He died in Naumburg Prison in Germany in March 1945 just weeks before the prison was liberated.

Sandra said: "The final image according to my father, was that George had been on a rubbish tip scrabbling around looking for some cast off scraps of food that somebody might have thrown out there. Now that sort of picture is not good."

Nearly everybody lost something during the war years, for Sandra, it was her Uncle George. Credit: ITV Channel

George was one of many people from Jersey to be deported for similar crimes. His name, along with 20 others are forever remembered on the lighthouse memorial in Jersey, a place Sandra visits each Holocaust memorial Day.

George's name is etched into the Lighthouse Memorial in Jersey, alongside 20 others who lost their lives to Nazi persecution. Credit: ITV Channel

"When nobody speaks your name that's the time you're really dead and I think every year at the memorial when the names are read out it's like a reinforcement that these were real people and even after all these years, their names matter, they're not forgotten yet and we shouldn't forget them either."

Watch Part 2 and Part 3 of the series below: