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28 October 2014
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You are in Jersey > My Island > History > German Occupation
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GERMAN OCCUPATION
Battery gun at Noirmont point
A battery gun at Noirmont point

During the 1930's Jersey was a peaceful holiday island, with thousands of visitors every summer.

But this was soon to change...

 

To defend or not to defend?

When the Germans occupied France in 1940, the Lieutenant-Governor of Jersey asked the War Office what would be done to protect Jersey from the Germans.

On 17 June 1940, the decision was made that Jersey would not be defended. All troops and military equipment were to be removed from the island.

Evacuation

Ships were sent to evacuate anyone who wished to leave the island. Those who did wish to leave were told to register at the Town Hall - by the end of the next day, more than 23,000 islanders had registered.

A lot of the islanders who had registered changed their minds, whilst others tried to get onto the ships but were turned away. Of the 23,000 that had registered, only 6,500 actually left.

Homes were ransacked - evacuees could only take what they could carry, and cars and pets were abandoned. The banks ran out of money as people tried to withdraw their savings.

Arrival of the Germans

On the 28 June 1940, the Germans bombed St. Helier harbour and La Rocque. They did not know that Jersey was undefended - England had kept it quiet.

Once the Germans knew the islands were undefended, they immediately occupied them. On 1 July 1940, a paper ultimatum was dropped over Jersey - the islanders had to show their willingness to comply with the Germans by flying white flags from all buildings.

About a hundred German troops arrived that day. Anti-aircraft and machine gun posts were set up, and a list of orders was issued for islanders to follow - these included a curfew from 11pm to 5am, and a ban on the sale of spirits.

By December 1940 there were 1,750 Germans on Jersey. Within a year this had increased to 11,500.

 

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