On this day in 1947
Guernsey woman advised to leave for her safety
Guernsey police advised a local to leave the island for her own safety.
Frances Laszczak, who was Frances Brewster until 1946 when she married a Polish man in Brighton, was accused of betraying a fellow islander. She and her mother had been taken to Berlin during the war to give evidence against John Ingrouille, who was accused of organising armed resistance against the Germans.
Laszczak denied having given any evidence against Ingrouille, but some on Guernsey didn’t believe her. Ingrouille had been held for four years after his trial, and died upon his release before he got back to Guernsey. As reported in the Daily Herald, “Some islanders still believed her to have been a collaborator. They began to threaten her. ‘Clear out before we get you,’ they said”.
No choice but to leave
With Guernsey police advising her to heed the warning, there was little she could do but head back to Brighton with all the money she had in the world – four shillings.
But mainland authorities didn’t want her husband to settle in Britain. They said he should return to Poland, which he was unwilling to do as it was then in the Russian sector. Guernsey authorities wouldn’t let him settle and find work in Guernsey, either.
Speaking to the Press in May 1947, Frances Laszczak said,
For a long time now, people have accused me of being responsible [for giving evidence against Ingrouille], but they are wrong. It was only my mother who gave evidence, and she was forced by the Germans to go to Berlin to do this. Had I wanted to speak in the Court, the Germans told me I could not do so as I was under age at the time.
John Henry Ingrouille was 20 years old when accused by the German occupying force of organising an armed resistance force of 800 men. His parents claimed that the accusation was first made by Laszczak and her mother, who then testified against him, first in court in Jersey, and then at a second hearing in Berlin.
Ingrouille was taken from his home on New Year’s eve 1941. After his trials, he was sentenced to five years hard labour in a concentration camp.
Upon his sentencing, the Bailiff, Victor Carey, wrote to the German Feldkommandantur asking that it be reduced. He argued that the statements Ingrouille had made claiming he would take action against the occupiers were the result of a less than average intelligence. The plea was rejected three months later.
Ingrouille survived his incarceration but died of tuberculosis on 13 June 1945 in the Third British General Hospital, Brussels. He was buried briefly in Brussels, but exhumed on 4 October 1946 and re-interred at Vale Cemetery 20 days later.
There is a stained glass window to his memory in Vale Church.
Frances Laszczak died of tuberculosis following childbirth, two years after the death of John Ingrouille.
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