September 10, 1977 dawned damp and grey for the citizens of Marseilles, especially those residing in Les Baumettes Prison. All the inmates (and some of the staff) were in a dark mood contemplating the rising of the sun and the fall of executioner Marcel Chevalier's blade. Inmates of what the French called 'Death Alley' were … Continue reading On This Day in 1977 – Hamida Djandoubi, last man to face a French guillotine.
A long, long way as it turned out. When Vere Goold took his own life on this day in 1909 he was far from Tipperary (his ancestral home) and everything else he'd ever known. Once the son of a prominent Irish family, a talented boxer and Wimbledon tennis star, he died a convict, murderer and … Continue reading On This Day in 1909, Vere Thomas ‘St. Leger’ Goold: A long way from Tipperary.
"The Bagne is a charnel house, a mass grave, running from syphilis to tuberculosis, with all the tropical diseases one can imagine (carrying malaria, ankylosis, amoebic dysentery, leprosy, etc.), all destined to work hand in hand with an Administration whose task it is to diminish the number of prisoners consigned to its care. The fiercest … Continue reading On This Day in 1953 – France’s last inmates return from Devil’s Island.
Meet Henri Charriere. Frenchman, Venezuelan, career criminal, transportee to Devil's Island, denier of the murder that sent him there, happy to claim to have committed a murder while he was there and general storyteller and writer. Also known as 'Papillon (due to a butterfly tattoo on his chest) and writer of the eponymous book turned … Continue reading Papillon – The Butterfly Pinned..?