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Ahead of this year's Liberation Day, we're asking you to share your stories or your family's stories from during the time of the occupation.

'Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight. And our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today.'
Winston Churchill, Prime Minister

That was the announcement Channel Islanders had waited five long years to hear. On the 8 May 1945, Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced the end of the war in Europe - and the Channel Islands would be freed the following day.

The German Occupation of the Channel Islands between 1940 and 1945 played a huge part in shaping both the landscape and the people of Guernsey.

German forces had been sweeping through Europe towards the northern coast of France during the early part of 1940, and by mid-June had reached Cherbourg.  On 19 June 1940, the Channel Islands were officially demilitarised and abandoned to the enemy by the British Government. An order was given for the 'Evacuation of Children' and parents were told they were to register that evening and report to the harbour at 8am the following morning with their children packed and ready to leave. At very short notice, 4000 school children were evacuated and left familiar surroundings to travel to towns and environments far removed from their peaceful island home. Mothers of infants under-five were allowed to accompany their children but all those of school age were to travel within their school groups, with only some mothers invited to act as helpers.

In all, 17,000 islanders left Guernsey - almost half the population - and made the crossing to Weymouth. For many, this was the first time they had ever left the island.

On Friday 28 June, Guernsey experienced its first air raid which killed 33 islanders and injured a further 67. The harbour and fruit export sheds were targeted, with the Germans believing they were military installations and that tomato trucks at the harbour were military vehicles.

The Occupation of Guernsey began at around 8.30pm on Sunday 30 June, when five Junker troop carriers landed at Guernsey airport. The following day, German troops arrived and that afternoon the German flag was raised. More troops arrived later until the numbers roughly equalled that of remaining islanders. Attention then turned to the smaller islands of Sark and Alderney. Alderney had been evacuated with only 12 civilians remaining. A company of troops arrived to occupy the Island. German officers arrived on Sark on 2 July with a further 10 soldiers arriving on Sunday 4 July.

Nazi law was introduced to the Islands, and conditions under which they would rule were published in the local newspaper. This included the race laws, particularly those against Jews. Most Jewish people had left the islands before the Occupation, but some remained and some had come to the islands to escape persecution in mainland Europe.

The day-to-day running of the island was down to the Controlling Committee, chaired by Ambrose Sherwill, who was later deported for his involvement in Operation Ambassador in July 1940. In this unsuccessful mission, British Commandos came to the occupied Island for reconnaissance, prisoner capture and aircraft destruction. Sherwill later became Bailiff of Guernsey (1946 - 1959) and was knighted in 1949. The Controlling Committee introduced Occupation money to the islands, with German occupying forces using Third Reich scrip. The Germans also introduced European time to the occupied islands. Nazi troops went about heavily fortifying Guernsey, building new reinforced bunkers as well as adapting existing fortifications and adding an array of light and heavy guns. Most of these bunkers and batteries remain today with some open to the public.

Food was in short supply during the Occupation towards the end, for both locals and occupying forces. Access to beaches was limited, as they were heavily defended with barbed wire and mines. Fishermen were allowed out to sea in their boats, albeit with a limit on distance from the shore and an accompanying German soldier. Islanders grew what they could, including tobacco, and also produced salt. Bramble and nettle tea were commonly drunk and seaweed used in cooking.

A Red Cross vessel, the Vega, made six trips to the islands with Red Cross parcels, including flour and medical supplies, amongst other things. Some Red Cross messages also got through to the island from loved ones in Britain.

Although Victory in Europe (VE Day) was on Tuesday 8 May the German government had not officially sanctioned the surrender of the Channel Islands.

The German commander, Admiral Hoffmeier, refused to surrender the Channel Islands until the early hours of 9 May 1945. Surrender was completed by Major General Hiner and Captain Lieutenant Zimmerman aboard the HMS Bulldog. That Wednesday morning, the St Peter Port seafront and harbour were packed with excited islanders. The first British Troops landed in St Peter Port to find jubilant crowds. While Guernsey and Jersey were freed on 9 May, Sark was not liberated until the following day and the German troops in Alderney did not surrender until 16 May.

Food supplies were brought to the island on 12 May. The landing craft used to deliver the large amounts of supplies were then used to transport German prisoners of war to the UK. 1,000 German troops remained behind to help the clear up operation, removing land mines and dismantling the large guns, which were then dumped out to sea.

The evacuees returned over the summer months, businesses were restarted or founded and the growing industry flourished.

History of Liberation Day

'Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight. And our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today.'
Winston Churchill, Prime Minister

That was the announcement Channel Islanders had waited five long years to hear. On the 8 May 1945, Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced the end of the war in Europe - and the Channel Islands would be freed the following day.

The German Occupation of the Channel Islands between 1940 and 1945 played a huge part in shaping both the landscape and the people of Guernsey.

German forces had been sweeping through Europe towards the northern coast of France during the early part of 1940, and by mid-June had reached Cherbourg.  On 19 June 1940, the Channel Islands were officially demilitarised and abandoned to the enemy by the British Government. An order was given for the 'Evacuation of Children' and parents were told they were to register that evening and report to the harbour at 8am the following morning with their children packed and ready to leave. At very short notice, 4000 school children were evacuated and left familiar surroundings to travel to towns and environments far removed from their peaceful island home. Mothers of infants under-five were allowed to accompany their children but all those of school age were to travel within their school groups, with only some mothers invited to act as helpers.

In all, 17,000 islanders left Guernsey - almost half the population - and made the crossing to Weymouth. For many, this was the first time they had ever left the island.

On Friday 28 June, Guernsey experienced its first air raid which killed 33 islanders and injured a further 67. The harbour and fruit export sheds were targeted, with the Germans believing they were military installations and that tomato trucks at the harbour were military vehicles.

The Occupation of Guernsey began at around 8.30pm on Sunday 30 June, when five Junker troop carriers landed at Guernsey airport. The following day, German troops arrived and that afternoon the German flag was raised. More troops arrived later until the numbers roughly equalled that of remaining islanders. Attention then turned to the smaller islands of Sark and Alderney. Alderney had been evacuated with only 12 civilians remaining. A company of troops arrived to occupy the Island. German officers arrived on Sark on 2 July with a further 10 soldiers arriving on Sunday 4 July.

Nazi law was introduced to the Islands, and conditions under which they would rule were published in the local newspaper. This included the race laws, particularly those against Jews. Most Jewish people had left the islands before the Occupation, but some remained and some had come to the islands to escape persecution in mainland Europe.

The day-to-day running of the island was down to the Controlling Committee, chaired by Ambrose Sherwill, who was later deported for his involvement in Operation Ambassador in July 1940. In this unsuccessful mission, British Commandos came to the occupied Island for reconnaissance, prisoner capture and aircraft destruction. Sherwill later became Bailiff of Guernsey (1946 - 1959) and was knighted in 1949. The Controlling Committee introduced Occupation money to the islands, with German occupying forces using Third Reich scrip. The Germans also introduced European time to the occupied islands. Nazi troops went about heavily fortifying Guernsey, building new reinforced bunkers as well as adapting existing fortifications and adding an array of light and heavy guns. Most of these bunkers and batteries remain today with some open to the public.

Food was in short supply during the Occupation towards the end, for both locals and occupying forces. Access to beaches was limited, as they were heavily defended with barbed wire and mines. Fishermen were allowed out to sea in their boats, albeit with a limit on distance from the shore and an accompanying German soldier. Islanders grew what they could, including tobacco, and also produced salt. Bramble and nettle tea were commonly drunk and seaweed used in cooking.

A Red Cross vessel, the Vega, made six trips to the islands with Red Cross parcels, including flour and medical supplies, amongst other things. Some Red Cross messages also got through to the island from loved ones in Britain.

Although Victory in Europe (VE Day) was on Tuesday 8 May the German government had not officially sanctioned the surrender of the Channel Islands.

The German commander, Admiral Hoffmeier, refused to surrender the Channel Islands until the early hours of 9 May 1945. Surrender was completed by Major General Hiner and Captain Lieutenant Zimmerman aboard the HMS Bulldog. That Wednesday morning, the St Peter Port seafront and harbour were packed with excited islanders. The first British Troops landed in St Peter Port to find jubilant crowds. While Guernsey and Jersey were freed on 9 May, Sark was not liberated until the following day and the German troops in Alderney did not surrender until 16 May.

Food supplies were brought to the island on 12 May. The landing craft used to deliver the large amounts of supplies were then used to transport German prisoners of war to the UK. 1,000 German troops remained behind to help the clear up operation, removing land mines and dismantling the large guns, which were then dumped out to sea.

The evacuees returned over the summer months, businesses were restarted or founded and the growing industry flourished.

75th Anniversary of Liberation Day

In 2020 the Bailiwick of Guernsey Celebrated the 75th Anniversary of Liberation Day. Due to COVID-19 the island was in lockdown, forcing the celebrations to move online.

So we can always remember how we all spent the 75th anniversary of  Liberation Day in lockdown we have made a video showing how we commemorated and celebrated Liberation at home. We will never forget this unique time in our lives and would like to thank all of you who shared their lockdown photos #Liberate75together.

The traditional laying of the wreath at the memorial at the top of Smith street in St. Peter Port to remember those that fought for our freedom.

Watch the traditional Liberation Day church service filmed outside to mark the 75th Anniversary of Liberation Day.

The Full order of Service can be found here.

As the service begins,  the standard bearer moves from the entrance of the Town Church accompanied by a violin solo performed by Max Wong playing, Largo from Sonata for Solo Violin No. 3, BWV 1005/3 by J S Bach.

Max recorded this piece especially for the service on a violin that was made in 1660 by Jakob Stainer, who was the maker of J. S. Bach's very own violin.  The hymns throughout the service and the National Anthem have been created especially for Liberation Day by the Schools Music Centre, Youth Choir and Guernsey Girls' Choir who have worked in collaboration with the Town Church Choir.

We are hugely grateful for this contribution and for the virtual recording of 'You'll  Never Walk Alone'

An Interview by TV historian Dan Snow with Major Marco Ciotti looking at life in Government House during the German occupation and the challenges that faced the Bailiwick after liberation.

A message from Her Majesty The Queen read by His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor, Vice Admiral Sir Ian Corder KBE, CB. The National anthem is performed by The Town Church Choir, Guernsey Music Centre Girls’ and Youth Choirs along with organ accompaniment from Stephen le Prevost.

Footage kindly supplied by The Guernsey Cine & Video Club & all productions directed & edited by Keith Tostevin.

Remember to share with us how you spent Liberation Day at Home by using the hashtag #Liberate75Together

Broadcaster and historian Dan Snow has visited the Islands of Guernsey several times to explore the remnants of the German occupying forces left across the islands after Liberation.

He will be interviewing the Lieutenant-Governor about what Liberation Day means to him.

Browse through our collection of historic old photos from Guernsey during the occupation, featuring some 'Then and Now' shots, gallery of photos.

Thanks to The Guernsey Music Centre Girls' and Youth Choirs and Town Church Choir for providing a very fitting soundtrack.

Thanks to Guernsey Museums for kindly permitting us to reproduce some photos from their archive.

A 360 video experience of the VR project showing the bombing of the White Rock in Guernsey during 1940, created by Karl Dorfner at KD Creative and told by Molly Bihet.

Molly is a local author who was just 9 years old when the Nazis arrived in Guernsey in 1940. Her parents made the decision to stay in Guernsey as a family during the occupation.  It was only in the 1980s that Molly finally wrote her book "A Child's War" describing her and her family's experience during those five dark years from 1940 - 1945.

Here, she talks about witnessing the bombing of the White Rock.

Use your mouse to move around the video and see spitfires flying overhead.

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