A postscript to the photo of Maurice Gould’s grave in the previous post. This story is well told in Peter Hassall’s own words, those of the incomparable Michael Ginns MBE, deportee and chronicler of the Occupation years and Mike Bisson’s immense work of local reference Jerripedia. If you follow that last link you will find photos of all three young men involved.
On 3rd May 1942 late in the evening, Dennis Audrain, Peter Hassall and Michael Gould set sail for France. All were mere teenagers. The Island was by then of course under military occupation. The lads had access to their small boat only because of a fishing permit. Almost immediately the boat ran into rough waters and capsized. Audrain was drowned, the other two swam ashore to be arrested by the Military Police. They were carrying photographs of German defences and were therefore assured of harsh treatment.
Later that month the pair were taken to a German concentration camp Hinzert where they were tortured and beaten over a long period, as well as working 12-hour days on starvation rations. In July 1942 they were transferred to Wittlich where a severely weakened Gould died of TB. Before he died, Hassall promised that he would not leave Gould in Germany.
In June 1944 Hassall was tried in Breslau on charges of espionage. He had no defense lawyer. He was found guilty, sentenced to death, but because of his youth this sentence was suspended and he was put to work in Swidnica, Poland. Finally he was moved to Hirschberg until, on 8th May 1945, the lone warder simply opened the gates.
Peter finally returned to Jersey months later. For over fifty years, and despite moving to Canada, he made efforts to fulfill his promise to Maurice Gould. Finally, on 3rd May 1997 (55 years to the day since the escape attempt) Gould’s remains were re-interred at Howard Davis Park.
Peter Hassall died in 1999.