26th October 1944
GUNS founder Charles Machon died
The founders of GUNS, the Guernsey Underground News Sheet, paid a high price for their bravery. Informed upon, tried and sentenced, they were sent to prison in mainland Europe, and not all of them made it back to Guernsey alive.
One of those who paid with his life was Charles Machon, who died on 26 October 1944.
Until 2016, nobody knew for sure where his remains had been interred. However, in December it was confirmed that he had been buried in Am Wehl cemetery in the German town of Hamelin.
Machon and GUNS
Machon was a linotype operator at The Guernsey Star and Gazette when he came up with the idea of GUNS. The widely circulated publication was filled with BBC news stories that the team behind it had copied down the previous night and that morning while listening to a banned radio.
Around 300 copies of each edition were produced daily and widely circulated from hand to hand. The stories also spread by word of mouth.
Machon confessed his involvement when the German authorities threatened to arrest his mother. He was sentenced on 24 April 1944 to two years and a month of hard labour and sent, initially, to Rheinbach prison. The charges of which he was convicted were making and spreading leaflets, spreading seditious information and listening to prohibited broadcasts.
This punishment could have been enough to have killed even a strong man. However, Machon faced a more serious problem: he had a stomach ulcer. This required him to eat a special diet that simply wasn’t available in either Reinbach or Hamelin, the prison to which he was later transferred.
He died in Hamelin prison hospital, officially as a result of the ulcer. He was 51 years old.