14th May 1941

British papers reported Dame of Sark’s deportation

It’s a measure of how completely the Channel Islands were cut off during the second world war that even erroneous news took almost a year to leak out.

On 14 May 1941, mainland papers reported that a letter smuggled across the Atlantic the previous August described how Sibyl Hathaway, the Dame of Sark had been sent to a concentration camp in Germany. According to various regional papers, all of which carried the same Press Association story, her deportation had been a reprisal for “offences by youthful islanders who had been ‘harassing’ the Germans in Guernsey“.

False news

In reality, the Dame spent the whole of the war on Sark. She only left the island once. Her clandestine mission had been to take supplies to Guernsey for two British airmen who were hiding in her daughter’s house.

Dame Sibyl’s son had been killed five days before the “news” of her deportation became public. Flight Lieutenant “Buster” Beaumont had been caught in the Liverpool Blitz while on leave. Although he never found out that his mother had supposedly been punished, she did hear from German authorities about the death of her son.

Her supposed incarceration was even reported in America, six days after the UK. In her autobiography, Dame of Sark, Sibyl quotes the North American edition of Radio Newsreel:

In removing her to a concentration camp in the Reich the Germans have done an extremely foolish thing. La Dame has an authority recognised and respected by the islanders through ties of long custom. To seize her as a hostage for their good behaviour is likely only to stiffen the resistance of a population who have both spirit and esprit, who have stubborn genius for cold-shouldering interlopers, and who have long been accustomed to taking their cue as to hospitality from the attitude of the Seigneurie.

The Seigneur’s deportation

While the Dame was not deported, her husband was. It happened in February 1943 – almost two years after the Sibyl’s supposed deportation. During that month, all men who had previously served an army were transported to prisons in Germany. He had been an officer in the Royal Flying Corps during the first world war.

 

FREE Guernsey history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Guernsey's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want. We'll also keep you up to date with our latest book releases and early-bird discounts.

 

Other events that occured in May

Priaulx Library opens for the first time 1st
Horse racing returns to L’Ancresse race course 2nd
Guernsey deportee, nurse Gladys Skillett was born
“Twink” goes missing on its way to Guernsey 3rd
Role of Chief Minister of Guernsey abolished 4th
Guernsey Airport opened for business 5th
Alderney debated in the House of Commons 6th
Songs of Praise comes from Guernsey 7th
Final issue of Deutsche Guernsey-Zeitung was published 8th
Guernsey was liberated from German occupation 9th
A Guernsey retiree’s £1m offer attracts 57,000 requests 10th
A liberation celebration ended in disaster 11th
Guernsey plays Tottenham Hotspur 12th
Guernsey’s telephone wars broke out 13th
British papers reported Dame of Sark’s deportation 14th
The States of Guernsey bought Aurigny 15th
Alderney was liberated at the end of the second world war 16th
Herm goes back on the market 17th
A mainland murder with a Guernsey connection 18th
Guernsey declared a State of Emergency 19th
Wartime diplomat Wilfred Gallienne born in Guernsey 20th
Hauteville House is bequeathed to the City of Paris 21st
Guernsey poet and painter Denys Corbet was born 22nd
John Doyle was appointed Lieutenant-Governor 23rd
The Imperial Hotel opened for the first time 24th
Elizabeth College is founded in St Peter Port 25th
Game of Thrones actor Roy Dotrice was born 26th
Head of Guernsey CID is shot in St Peter Port 27th
Work started on the Victoria Tower
Guernsey’s first paid constables were hired 28th
Guernsey woman advised to leave for her safety 29th
Occupation stories occupy the mainland papers 30th
“Overdose” verdict in Guernsey farmer’s death inquiry 31st