On 1st January 2016 Jersey Heritage opened over 200 new records to the public for the first time.
The records, which until then had been closed to public access for periods ranging from 30, 75 and 100 years and include a petition to the Home Secretary from Eddie Chapman, the notorious Second World War spy ‘Agent Zigzag’.
Also, in the current release, are witness statements in criminal cases, aliens cards of people born in 1915, hospital records, States of Jersey (government) minutes and files from the Bailiff’s Chambers (Chief Justice’s office) showing the impact of the First World War on day to day life in Jersey.
Coincidentally I had been talking about Eddie Chapman to my brother-in-law over Christmas, as he was in the middle of enjoying reading the book by Ben Macintyre in which, on a December night in 1942, a Nazi parachutist lands in a Cambridgeshire field with the mission of sabotaging the British war effort. The Nazi agent was none other than Eddie Chapman who had been recruited by the Germans when they occupied Jersey. Chapman was in the island’s prison for committing further crimes to add to those he was already on the run from on the mainland. He was able to convince his captors that he would make good spy material and before long found himself training at an elite spy school in France run by the German Secret Service, the Abwhehr.
On dropping into war-time England Chapman would shortly become MI5’s Agent Zigzag. The problem for Chapman, his many lovers and his spy-masters was knowing who he was. Ben Macintyre weaves together diaries, letters, photographs, memories and top-secret MI5 files to tell the story of Britain’s most sensational double agent.
And now, with the opening of the petition that is part of a file of Jersey prisoners writing to the Home Secretary about various issues, we see Chapman’s complaints about his treatment by Police before he became a double agent spy. In this pre-war petition he asks for the return of his clothes and further asks the Home Secretary if he can possibly help him get his bail money back from the Scottish Solicitor he gave it to before he broke his bail and fled to Jersey! Somewhat amusingly, in the covering letter from the Prison Governor in Jersey, we see that Chapman had previously pleaded guilty to the theft of clothes, a hat, socks and some money from a house within the prison grounds in Jersey!
These files are all now available to view at the Jersey Archive and the first Le Gallais sponsored ‘What’s your Street’s Story?’ talk of the year on Saturday 16 January at 10am, taking place in the Jersey Archive, will cover some of the stories from these records.
The book on Chapman’s war time experience as a double agent is available at all good bookshops and from Amazon:
Compensated affiliate link used to amazon. http://paidforadvertising.co.uk/