Letter: Defying the Nazis

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Julia Pascal commits a grave injustice when she asserts that Ambrose Sherwill, the first president of Guernsey's Controlling Committee, was "the only island politician to come out of this history [the registration of Jews as demanded by the German occupation authorities in the Second World War] with real honour".

Madeleine Bunting's book The Model Occupation (HarperCollins, 1995) says that Sherwill recorded in unpublished memoirs the shame he felt at his own acquiescence in 1940 and stated: "The honour of refusing to concur in [the registration of Jews] fell to Sir Abraham Laine, who, when called on as a jurat to vote on this matter, openly and categorically refused his assent and stated his grave objection to such a measure.... This courage of his should not be forgotten. As I sat listening to him, I realised how right he was."

Pascal might have got the facts right and avoided offence to the family of Sir Abraham, including his surviving son, Group Captain Edward Laine, still living on the island, who followed his father as a jurat and served in the RAF with distinction in the cause of Europe's liberation, and his grand-daughter, my wife.


London WC2