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13 November 2014

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You are in: Guernsey > History > Occupation > Liberation Day Memories

Liberation Day 1945

Liberation Day 1945

Liberation Day Memories

Take a look back at a Liberation Day memories phone-in.

Jim Cathcart was joined in the studio by local historian Bill Bell and two Guernsey residents, Herbert Winterflood and Molly Bihet, who lived through the Occupation and wrote about their experiences.

The hour long phone-in focused on Wednesday 9 May 1945, Liberation Day.

Molly and Herbert have different memories of liberation morning.

Herbert said he learnt the Occupation was over the day before liberation as there was an announcement that they could fly their flags but that there was no indication of when the liberating forces would land.

When they did land hundreds of people were lined up along the seafront. With no local radio or TV services the crowd gathered due to word of mouth only.

Liberation Day 1945

British troops march along the seafront

"Word got around very quickly, like lightning, there were crowds in front of the Royal Hotel where most of the activity was occurring that day. Everybody was friendly, happy, bringing out what flags they had and after five years of German domination it was lovely to be free and to be able to do what we wanted to do," said Herbert.

Molly was in Les Canichers road with her family listening to a radio a neighbour had on a windowsill. This was despite the ban on radios put in place by the Occupying forces and with German sodliers walking past in the road. Molly remembers the speech by the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, as an important event.

"I think the grown ups fully expected them to come much before, then we had the parcels which helped obviously food-wise and morale but it was the last few weeks that was awful, waiting," said Molly.

Molly remembered being given an orange by a sailor, held him round the neck in return and he said "missy I'll be back in a few years". Molly went to the fiftieth celebration when the liberation soldiers came over and was asked to say a few words and so she asked if the sailor had come back to see her, "but he hadn't".

Molly remembers of the orange: "That was wonderful but I didn't know how to open it up, we didn't know of fruit like that."

Bill read out a story about a special constable on duty at the harbour and the memories of Lieutenant Commander Rex Ferbrache.

The story is completely different from how Herbert remembers it happening and he explained what happened after the liberation and put forward his theory about why there are conflicting memories of the day.

Jim asked Bill Bell what documentary evidence there was of the liberation and Bill read out the report from the paper at the time and some of the memoirs of one of the liberating soldiers, a Captain Ingram Cotton, although Herbert did not agree with what was written in the paper.

One of the callers to the phone-in was Rochelle, who was a school girl during the Occupation, who spoke about a dark side of the period after liberation and the treatment of foreign workers.

Herbert explained that it took a whole year for life to get back to some kind of normality and spoke about the first anniversary of the liberation.

last updated: 24/11/2008 at 16:30
created: 30/07/2008

You are in: Guernsey > History > Occupation > Liberation Day Memories

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