On June 19 island administrators were instructed to demilitarise: all arms, uniforms and equipment used by the militia and defence volunteers were to be deposited at the town arsenal, and private firearms handed to police. On July 16, 1940, Hitler issued a directive ordering the preparation and, if necessary, the execution of a plan for the invasion of Great Britain. This was despite prime minister Winston Churchill’s insistence that Britain should be able to use naval power to protect the islands, arguing it was “repugnant ... to abandon British territory which has been in the possession of the Crown since the Norman Conquest”. LONDON — When the Germans invaded the Channel Islands in June 1940, at least one resident was determined to show that she would not be intimidated. Most of Britain was under Roman rule for almost 400 years, but when the Roman Empire began to falter, the people of Britain were increasingly left to defend themselves. WITHIN The Jerrybags who slept with German soldiers are a reminder that the bulldog breed collaborated too. Life on the Channel Island of Guernsey under German occupation during World War II is the theme of joint British American film, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, opening in Sydney tomorrow. betgo. Why didn't the British defend the channel islands in WWII? Internee Frank Falla wrote of his imprisonment in a Gestapo-prison in Frankfurt: “Opponents of the Reich of all nationalities who were chained in cellar cells and cried like animals were being executed by the Nazis by guillotine at the rate of 25 per week … In addition to suffering starvation and malnutrition, we were deprived of all human rights … Our relatives were not informed where we were, or even whether we were alive or dead.”. Hitler became obsessed with the idea that Britain would try to recapture the islands and issued a personal directive that they be turned into an "impregnable fortress". Hence the current state of affairs. The Channel Islands are a British Dependency off of the coast of Normandy. After the war, Guernsey bailiff Victor Carey offered £25 rewards to informers who betrayed those who painted V signs, while Methodist minister John Leale passed Germans the names of Jews, as collected by Carey’s police. Nationwide News Pty Ltd © 2020. At the outbreak of World War II, although the islands were not part of the UK, for many years the British Consitution had included a provision to defend the Islands. This was for two reasons: firstly, Britain didn’t have the resources to fight for the islanders, and the local people had been told not to resist; secondly, the geography of the Channel Islands would have made it very difficult for a potential resistance to hide and organise ­– the islands … Victor Hugo sum it up by saying that Guernsey and Jersey were “pieces of France that fall into the water and were picked up by the British”. In principle, the Channel Islands were part of English territory since the battle of Hastings in October 1066. The island survived but it’s physical shape was altered for ever. The islands had long had a strategic importance in naval warfare that far exceeded the intrinsic worth of the farming produce of the islands. Prior to the invasion, many island children were evacuated to the mainland, and Alderney became uninhabited, later to be used for concentration camps by the Nazis. The islands set their own fiscal policy and have their own judicial systems. On Jersey, where children were on holiday to help with the potato harvest, schools did not get instructions to evacuate. His orders were enacted in September 1942, when 2200 islanders were deported to Germany, where 45 died. https://amateurtraveler.com/french-and-british-culture-in-the-channel-islands The residents do not vote in UK elections (unless they are resident in the UK at the time). Liberation The Normandy landings in 1944 heralded the final phase of the of the islands' German occupation. It is because of this link to the crown and associated history that the Channel Islands are part of the British Isles (bizarely) but NOT part of the United Kingdom. Interactive exhibits, interspersed with wartime footage, sound effects and displays of household objects, walk you through the British government's decision not to defend the Channel Islands, privations suffered by locals, the slave labour used to build these tunnels, the deportations of British-born families to Germany, and Jersey's subsequent liberation. As British Crown dependencies, the Channel Islands are not part of the UK, but they have an allegiance to the British Crown that dates back more than 800 years. To join the conversation, please This means that their citizens are British but that they have an independent administration. Locals derived their income from tourism, fishing, agriculture and horticulture. The Channel Islands lay in the English Channel about 161km from England and 22km from Normandy. Hitler turned the Channel Islands were the most heavily defended portion of the Atlantic Wall, but was not part of it and thus did not add to the defensive strength of the Wall. How come Burma ended up being poor but Canada didn't even though they were both British colonies? Ancient Britain was a peninsula until a tsunami flooded its land-links to Europe 8,000 years ago. Why didn't the British try to reconquer the US after 1812? Why didn't Dravidian separatism ever take off in British India? "Overall I do analyse Jersey and Guernsey as a case of submission on the grounds of superior force." World War II: British Channel Islands--German Occupation (July 1940-May 1945) Figure 1.--: Two boys in German occupied Guernsey, grinning at the German photographer who took the picture. They are divided into two British Crown Dependencies, the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey. Chaos prevailed in Guernsey, where locals arranged evacuation of the first 1900 schoolchildren, some with their mothers, others with schoolteachers. Food and medical supplies were almost non-existent when Red Cross relief ship SS Vega arrived in Jersey on December 30, 1944 with food parcels and medical supplies. None among the 100,000 population on seven small islands foresaw events of June 1940, when Britain’s war cabinet voted to leave them to fend for themselves in the face of a German invasion. The two bailiwicks have been administered separately since the late 13th century. Forums. For a better experience, please enable JavaScript in your browser before proceeding. Each has its own independent laws, elections, and representative bodies (although in modern times, politicians from the islands' legislatures are in regular contact). The Royal Air Force continued to use the island as a bombing range until it was returned to West Germany on March 1, 1952. But Colin Smith argues that we should not jump to conclusions-the Islands were unlike any other part of occ There was no reason to defend the Channel Islands. When France fell, the British decided not to defend the islands and offered evacuation to all residents who wanted it. Go. Why didn't Japan invade British and Dutch Pacific territories earlier? Witness Ralph Mollet noted: “At 6.55pm on the 28th, three German planes flew over La Rocque (Jersey), machinegunning the district and dropping two 50kg H E bombs near the Harbour.” The planes then bombed Guernsey, killing 10 people and wounding many more. As Germans marched into Paris on June 14, 1940, the British war cabinet debated demilitarising the Channel Islands, believing Britain did not have the military might to defend an area of no strategic value. Not for any length of time. Everyone was in a tough situation. Overall I do analyse Jersey and Guernsey as a case of submission on the grounds of superior force . The British originally expected the island to be totally destroyed. Instead they settled down, with few overt signs of resistance, to a hard, dull but relatively peaceful five years of occupation, in which more than half the population was working for the Germans." I don't know if it is just me, but I find this question a little odd. Woolworth opened a store in the Jersey capital of St Helier on 9 April 1921, followed by another in … Apr 18, 2017 #21 Why did they have little strategic importance? log in. Why do you think they should be? On June 26 German planes swooped low over the islands, then the first German bombs fell. The Channel Islands (Norman: Îles d'la Manche; French: Îles Anglo-Normandes or Îles de la Manche) are an archipelago in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy.They include two Crown dependencies: the Bailiwick of Jersey, which is the largest of the islands; and the Bailiwick of Guernsey, consisting of Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm and some smaller islands. Find out more about our policy and your choices, including how to opt-out. Dr Philip Sands Author of The British Channel Islands Under German Occupation 1940-45. Some, like the Isles of Scilly, off Cornwall and Orkney, off Scotland, are part of the UK.. With one German soldier for every three islanders, resistance was difficult. sight of France but part of England since 1066, as Europe braced for German invasion in early 1940 the Channel Islands were still advertising as a summer holiday haven. “We must recover the Falkland islands for Britain and for the people who live there who are of British stock,” Thatcher said in an April 5, 1982 interview with ITN. The island leaders and … The Channel Islands are not part of the United Kingdom, nor the European Union – they are Crown Dependencies. Join the conversation, you are commenting as. Fortunately the full breadth of th The Channel Islands are an archipelago in the English Channel off the Normandy coast of France. "In Holland for example, there was a huge Nazi movement there, which was something you did not have at all in the Channel Islands. At 65sq km, Guernsey had about 40,000 people. The Islanders made the best of situation and with a decent German occupying force it was not too difficult. Prev . As Germans marched into Paris on June 14, 1940, the British war cabinet debated demilitarising the Channel Islands, believing Britain did not have the military might to defend an area of no strategic value. Great Britain - that part of the UK that includes England, Scotland and Wales, but not Northern Ireland - is surrounded by islands. No one is really to blame here. During WWII, the Channel Islands were the only British soil threatened by German troops. They were part of the inheritance of William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, who became King of England after defeating King Harold and his Saxon Army. Jul 2011 7,451. We’re not part of the UK, or the British Isles – we’re Manx,” said Phil Gawne, a former politician on the island and leading advocate for Manx heritage. History Themes. Alderney and Sark were smaller. Why aren't the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, etc.) Most was informal and passive, such as listening to forbidden radios or painting V-for-victory signs. part of the UK? World War II - World War II - The Battle of Britain: With France conquered, Hitler could now turn his forces on Germany’s sole remaining enemy: Great Britain, which was protected from the formidable German Army by the waters of the English Channel. The Channel Islands are very close to the French Coast and Germany would have easily been able to maintain air supremacy. Shopkeeper Louisa Gould, who lost a son serving in the Royal Navy, sheltered an escaped Russian prisoner of war for 18 months, telling a friend, “I had to do something for another mother’s son.” Arrested in 1944, she was sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp where she was gassed to death in 1945. Never before had the United Kingdom been in a state of such uncertainty and possible peril. Its southern tip caved in to a huge crater, that is today a celebrated tourist spot. Thread starter betgo; Start date Apr 16, 2017; Tags british channel defend islands wwii; Home. With British air and land forces outnumbered by their German counterparts, and U.S. aid not yet begun, it seemed certain that Britain would soon follow the fate of France. The islands were liberated on May 9, 1945. Like Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory, the Chanel Islands are dependent upon the UK for defense and management of their foreign policy. Ad Honorem. Hitler imported thousands of slave workers from Russia, Spain, France, Poland and Algeria to build bunkers, antitank walls, railway systems and tunnels across Jersey. Register, Join the conversation, you are commenting as Logout. They were liberated by British forces following the general German surrender. In fact, they are sovereign territory and not subject to the laws of any other European country. Did it help shape the nation? This was the beginning of the air battle that came to be known as the Battle of Britain. The largest, Jersey, is 118sq km and had a population of about 45,000. Chart the story of the Channel Islands during WW2. The German occupation of the Channel Islands still haunts Britain's image of itself at war. They did not commit suicide, and they did not kill any Germans. Why did they have little strategic importance? Bunting's point was that the Channel Islanders did not act in a Churchillian manner, they "did not fight on the beaches, in the fields or in the streets. Each child could take one change of clothes, nightclothes, a towel and toothbrush. IN June 1940 Britain’s war cabinet voted to leave the Channel Islands to fend for themselves during a German invasion. In the summer of 1940 the British Isles stood isolated and alone facing the might of a seemingly unstoppable German war machine. As the British had recognized when they abandined them, they had no military significance. The Channel Islands were occupied during World War II by German forces from 30 June 1940, until May 1945. Occupying Germans imposed an 11pm curfew, outlawed crystal radio sets, and ordered traffic onto the opposite side of the road, until petrol shortages reduced travel to bicycles and horse-drawn vehicles. 1; 2; 3; First Prev 3 of 3 Go to page. Earlier in the 18th century, Britain had fortified most of the harbours with gun batteries, garrisoned the islands with infantry, and naval ships were frequently on … Copyright © 2006-2020 Historum. Richard ‘China’ Jones went from one of colonial Sydney’s wealthiest men to bankrupt but still made his mark on one of Sydney’s most colourful ‘hoods. Although up to 23,000 people registered to flee, only 1000 children left, often with parents, along with 67 teachers; about 4500 children remained. All rights reserved. Considered not defendable by the British government in 1940, the islands were demilitarised and some civilians were given the opportunity to evacuate to England before the German forces arrived. Of course; Nazi propaganda at the time was trying to demonstrate to the rest of the British Isles that surrender would not be too bad an option and that life under the Germans could be tolerable. Military History. On the islands Jewish residents were registered and their businesses publicly identified. The Channel Islands - comprising Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm - were the only part of Britain ever to fall under Nazi rule after Winston Churchill thought them impossible to defend. The fortfications were enormous. British propaganda posters urged locals: “Don’t be yellow, stay at home”. When France fell, the British decided not to defend the islands and offered evacuation to all residents who wanted it. It is because of this link to the crown and associated history that the Channel Islands are part of the British Isles (bizarely) but NOT part of the United Kingdom. Our community welcomes everyone from around the world to discuss world history, historical periods, and themes in history - military history, archaeology, arts and culture, and history in books and movies. When Britain and Russia took control of Iran in 1941, interring German citizens, an infuriated Adolf Hitler demanded deportation of 10 British citizens from the islands for every German interned. There is evidence that the islands have been populated by humans for over 25,000 years. In mid-July, therefore, he launched a massive attack on British aircraft and airfields with the intention of destroying Britain’s capacity to defend itself. Founded in 2006, Historum is a history forum dedicated to history discussions and historical events. On Sunday, June 30, leaflets dropped, demanding surrender of Jersey authorities, with the display of white crosses and white flags on buildings. "Channel Islands" is a geographical term, not a political unit. Marriage scandal inspired woman ahead of her time, Rum rise and rapid fall of a Darlinghurst empire. All times AEST (GMT +10). Mothers and men of military age could evacuate, resulting in about 30,000 residents fleeing. Belgarion-a new British war movie has just been released in the U.K. called 'ANOTHER MOTHER'S SON' .It is about true Channel Islands heroine Louisa Gould, a middle aged mother who took pity on escaped Soviet POW Feodor Buirry a former pilot,who had been brought to Jersey to work as a slave labourer. Britain had no choice to abandon the Channel Islands because they were indefensible from a military point of view. Discover why they were the only part of the British Isles to suffer German occupation. Don't have an account? JavaScript is disabled. Because they were much closer to France than England? The Channel Islands lay in the English Channel about 161km from England and 22km from Normandy. 8 reasons why the Luftwaffe didn’t stand a chance of beating the RAF in the Battle of Britain The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles to fall under Nazi Occupation during World War Two.. After the German offensive raced through France, the British government concluded in June 1940 that the islands were indefensible; island officials were ordered to demilitarise and some citizens were evacuated to mainland Britain. When Jeannie Lockett’s husband seduced their maid, she left him and embarked on a career that would see her hailed as one of Sydney’s outstanding pioneer teachers. The Channel Islands - comprising Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm - were the only part of Britain ever to fall under Nazi rule after Winston Churchill thought them impossible to defend. 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