Civilian life under the German occupation of the Channel Islands
Life as a civilian during the five years of occupation of the Channel Islands by the German army, which started in June 1940 was difficult and as the war progressed, became much harder. The winter of 1944-45 was particularly hard when food and fuel were in short supply and liberation seemed so close and yet so far away:193
There were major events, milestones in the occupation, however between these, life continued as best as it could given the circumstances. It became a matter of survival awaiting liberation.
Overall, and considering that at times there were two German soldiers and one Organisation Todt (OT) worker for every five civilians in the very small land area in the islands, there was minimal contact and socialising between the three groups. The bulk of the civilian population kept itself apart, for very good reasons.
- 1 Milestone events
- 2 Evacuation
- 3 Working with the German Occupiers
- 4 Morale and Morals
- 5 Property
- 6 Work
- 7 Food
- 8 Clothing
- 9 Banks and shops
- 10 Activities
- 11 Transport and fuel
- 12 Communications
- 13 Alderney and Sark
- 14 Medical treatment
- 15 Dangers
- 16 Liberation
- 17 See also
- 18 References
A number of events greatly affected the whole civilian population in the Channel Islands:
- June 1940 evacuation of children and adults to the UK
- 28 June 1940 bombing of islands by Luftwaffe
- July 1940 German troops arrive and occupation starts
- Winter 1941-42 when the islands were inundated with soldiers and construction workers
- September 1942 and February 1943 deportations of civilians to Germany
- October 1943 Funeral of sailors from HMS Charybdis and HMS Limbourne particularly in Guernsey
- 6 June 1944 Normandy landings
- 27 December 1944 SS Vega bringing Red Cross parcels
- 9 May 1945 Liberation
A number of civilians, mainly men, had left the islands in the winter of 1939-40 to join the armed forces. With the invasion of Belgium in May 1940 a few people decided to leave the Islands using their own resources. In June, there was a fear the trickle would become a flood. Arrangements were made by the UK and Island governments to provide shipping and recommendations to evacuate Guernsey children were issued at short notice, this resulted in most school children leaving, teachers were ordered to leave with them, however parents were initially not normally permitted to travel with them unless there was a child under school age.:1 In Jersey no order was given for schools to be evacuated.
Evacuation was then opened up for other people,:14 but with the shortage of shipping and to avoid panic, people were recommended to "stay put". Confusion reigned, with all but a handful leaving Alderney, very few leaving Sark, only 6,600 leaving Jersey and 17,000 departing Guernsey (see Guernsey Evacuees book by Gillian Mawson) Some ships sailed from Jersey empty.
The decision to leave or stay was personal. Reasons for leaving ranged from noble (to join the fight), to fearful. Reasons for staying included defiance (not willing to be intimidated), age (too old to move), money (not wanting to abandon businesses or houses), caring (not wanting to abandon elderly parents or pets), duty (civil servants and other essential workers were asked not to leave). Some literally missed the boat.:2 King George VI sent a message of hope to the Bailiffs of each Island, with the request it be read out to the people.:17
Everyone who stayed, 41,101 on Jersey, 24,429 on Guernsey 470 on Sark and on Alderney there was just 18,:10 became trapped for almost five years in the islands.
Working with the German Occupiers
The Governments of the islands enacted emergency legislation to manage the crisis and when the occupiers arrived, had to come to arrangements to reduce the impact of the occupation on the civilians under their care.:44 Businesses had to conform to the changing rules and regulations including how to deal with a German customer, or suffer reprisals. Individuals generally tried to avoid contact.
On arrival in the islands, the Germans issued proclamations imposing new laws on the resident islanders. As time progressed, additional laws restricting rights were posted and had to be obeyed. The restrictions included:
Forced to accept:
Anyone unfortunate to be caught and sent to prison may have to wait until space became available. Short sentences were served in the islands, which was bad,:54 with rations roughly half those for civilians, however if sent away to prison, it was worse and the risk of dying increased. As the war progressed, prisoners sentenced for possession of radios were released early to reduce the demand on German supplied food rations.:32
Assemblies in Churches and Chapels were permitted and prayers for the British Royal family and the welfare of the British Empire could be said although nothing could be said against the honour or interests of the German Government or Forces.:42 German soldiers were free to attend services. Open air meetings were banned as were the Salvation Army, the Freemasons, the Oddfellows Society and the Ex-Servicemens clubs.:65 La Sociéte Guernesaise and La Sociéte Jersisise were permitted to continue holding meetings.
Resistance took place with little success, amongst the notable events was feeding and hiding a few OT workers but at the cost of a number of civilians being imprisoned and the death of Louisa Gould in Ravensbrück concentration camp.
Morale and Morals
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Every individual had personal highs and lows to morale throughout the occupation caused by family and close friend difficulties and tragedies. There were few positive personal events. The level of morale affecting the bulk of civilians were affected by island, national and international events. The discovery that locals could converse almost safely in Patois raised morale.:62 At no time did the islanders' allegiance to the British Crown falter. Early in the war at a large German parade the Commandant asked the watching civilians to raise their left hand if they were French citizens, very few raised an arm, he then asked people to raise their right arm if they were British. A photograph was taken and published with a caption stating islanders were saluting Hitler and shouting Sieg Heil, a simple trick.:105
Civilian morale in July 1940 was low, after having almost all the children removed from the islands, then being occupied by German soldiers. Over the next two months islanders listened to Britain fighting what would be named the Battle of Britain and watched German planes flying from the islands, some coming back damaged. The fact that there was no invasion of Britain in 1940 raised morale and life under occupation settled down into a routine that was liveable, with the occupiers being polite and professional.:42 A few papers providing news were dropped by the RAF in late 1940.
Morale fell in November 1940 when radios were confiscated to be replaced with joy at Christmas on their return.:26–9 Attempts in 1941 at defiance using the V sign were closed down after a few weeks by German fines, threats and imprisonment of offenders. In June 1941 the invasion of the Soviet Union showed that Britain was no longer a target but Germany was very strong. The Red Cross message system that started in 1941 lifted morale.:49 Keeping up with the international news, the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 bringing the USA into the war was a massive boost.
The building of fortifications in the islands starting in the winter of 1941/2 indicating Germany was going on the defensive. During 1942 the German armies advanced on all fronts, as did the Japanese in the far east,:72 with small American forces landing in North Africa in May the confiscation of radios in June 1942.:200and then in September, the forced deportation of mainly British born civilians to Germany resulted in a number of suicides,:xv indicating fear of the future and very low morale. It also gave an opportunity to show defiance, with some individuals in Jersey involved in fights and singing, resulting in tough imprisonment sentences to put fear into potential future offenders.:44–57
The Second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942 followed by the German defeat at Stalingrad in February 1943 left islanders with a hope that the occupation would not last for ever.:57 The funeral for HMS Charybdis and HMS Limbourne sailors in Guernsey in October 1943 gave an unexpected opportunity to show solidarity and defiance,:71 5,000 people, laying 900 wreathes, turned up for the funeral, boosting island morale and worried the Germans.:128
An opening of a second front in Europe was expected by the Germans and islanders. When it came on 6 June 1944 the joy and expectation of a swift liberation were slowly shattered when it became clear that the islands would be ignored. The isolation of the islands turned to fear, fuel and food supplies had been cut and there was the prospect of a long cold winter. German morale went into free fall.:184
The rumours of help from the Red Cross proved true when the SS Vega (1913) docked with a cargo of parcels in Guernsey on 27 December 1944, before moving on to Jersey.:161 Morale grew by the week in 1945, despite the suffering, as it became clear Germany would soon collapse. Open signs of defiance began to emerge, with Germans not retaliating. Their own level of morale was now very low. The news of the death of Hitler reduced the risk that the Germans would fight to the last bullet.:147 Many listened openly on radios at 3pm on 8 May to the speech by Churchill when he mentioned "our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today".:181 On 9 May 1945 morale went off the scale when the islands were actually liberated and British Tommies came ashore.
There were suicides during the war despair tipping men, rather than women, over the edge. Civilians, OT workers and Germans were affected.:xxvii :91 Civilian suicides were recorded as linked to the fear of the occupation, a Jew and several over deportation fears.:25 A number of soldiers, both officers and men committed suicide to avoid transfer to the eastern front, after hearing of family losses from bombing Germany and others in May 1945 on hearing of the death of Hitler.:25 In addition there would be a number of elderly people who died having just given up the will to live however for most, when at a depressing low, something always occurred to raise morale, even if it was only a rumour.:186
German soldiers were well behaved and polite at the start of the occupation. When these soldiers were transferred away, second grade soldiers arrived:91 and were kept under reasonable control by their officers however when these went off the islands received many eastern Soviet soldiers who had volunteered to fight for Germany, they were badly treated and fed and levels of theft and criminal activity rose.
A total of around 4,000 islanders were sentenced for breaking laws during the occupation (around 2,600 in Jersey and 1,400 in Guernsey); 570 prisoners were sent to continental prisons and camps, and at least 22 persons from Jersey and 9 from Guernsey did not return. It may seem a high level of crime, but equates to 12 people per 1,000, per annum, similar to the 2010-2014 conviction rates in England and Wales. If you exclude crimes against Germans and conviction of offences that had not existed in 1939, such as breaking curfew, it indicates a level of general good behaviour. The severe penalties imposed by Courts no doubt had had an effect on the level of crime, fines could be as high as several years pay or even the value of a house.:231 Despite people becoming more desperate as the occupation progressed.
Friendships between occupiers or OT workers and occupied led to some women earning reputations as "Jerry Bags". A few were love matches that resulted in marriage. Men and women were accused of collaboration. The worst fall in morals, which even some Germans found distasteful, was the informing on neighbours for breaking the law, such as having a radio.:161
OT workers, which included volunteer workers who were allowed great freedom and were well paid, down to starving "slave" workers. All categories committed many minor crimes, were involved in black market activities and more commonly in the theft of food.:105–7 There was a moral aspect of helping a forced worker as against a volunteer worker, the forced worker normally appeared wearing worse clothes and was always hungry and evoked more sympathy and sometimes help. It did not stop OT conmen begging for food and clothes they could then sell.:xxxix A civilian would see an OT worker being beaten or occasionally killed, such as a man who struck a German soldier, who retaliated by killing the Soviet worker with a spade.:86 Facts like these would quickly circulate, as did rumours of torture, so islanders were all aware of German brutality.
Morals within a family could differ, a husband refused to live in the same house as his wife once she got a job washing clothes for the soldiers, irrespective of the money and better rations she would receive.:xxxix
Many acts of Christian charity took place throughout the occupation, people helped look after friends, relatives and neighbours, as well as people in desperate need, irrespective of who they were.:95 There were also many donations to charities, people and companies were very generous.:164 :26 Churches and Chapels were open to all comers, German ministers adopted some churches as Garrison churches, such as St James the Less in St Peter Port, others borrowed churches for military services on a weekly basis, some civilian services were conducted in joint languages of English and German, when attended by the occupiers, a few even included Russian words when Russian OT workers were in the congregation.:82–7
There were serious crimes committed in the islands that would not have been out of place in the 1930s or 1950s, including murder, rape and assault, however the numbers were not high and the island police worked with the German military police if a soldier was involved, to apprehend and punish culprits. By 1945 morals had fallen due to hunger, it caused a dramatic rise in crimes of theft of food, in the last week of April 1945 there were 235 cases of theft reported to the police in Guernsey.:62
German troops needed accommodation. The obvious choice was to use the empty hotels however within months the numbers of troops had increased and empty buildings, including schools and houses belonging to people who had evacuated in June 1940 were requisitioned,:101 2,750 houses in Guernsey,:273
Late in 1941 Hitler took the decision to fortify the islands and in the winter of 1941 and spring tens of thousands of soldiers and 15,000 construction workers arrived, all requiring accommodation. Some huts were built on camps for the OT workers, however many ended up being billeted in private houses that had a spare room. German soldiers and OT workers were billeted in 17,000 private houses in 1942.:253
If a resident had a soldier billeted on them, the island government paid them a few shillings a week, but they were required to do his laundry.:101 One family had a soldier billeted on them and when he admired their young daughter saying that if ordered to do so, he would happily shoot her, they ejected him and he was re-billeted elsewhere.:xxxiii
Furniture was requisitioned or just taken and at the end of the war stores full of furniture had to be gone through by people looking for items taken from their houses. Jersey had 185,000 items of furniture looking for owners.:215 A small number of people were ordered out of their houses on short notice when the house was requisitioned, this might be for accommodation or for fortification reasons, which could result in demolition.:101 People had to get used to German soldiers just walking into their houses from the street for a look around or to "borrow" something.:30
A number of buildings were demolished by the Germans, often to improve lines of sight for guns, or obvious navigation markers, in Guernsey they included the Cobo Inn,:143 the Cobo Institute:198 the Doyle Monument at Jerbourg Point:128 and the James Sausmarez monument at Delancey.:123
The property market continued through the occupation, you could buy or sell a house. In January 1945 there was a high demand for houses in Guernsey and prices rose.:124
Changes caused by the occupation affected most workers, but especially shop and office workers. Many people had been evacuated leaving vacancies, however many businesses had a dramatic fall in trade, so required less employees. Certain jobs vanished overnight, such as bus and taxi drivers, people in the building trade found that the main employer became the German army.
Unemployed people were reduced to charity from their Parish officials, so the island governments introduced a work programme before the end of 1940 to give employment to the increasing numbers of unemployed, 2,300 unemployed men in Jersey. This system continued throughout the occupation. Work undertaken included such things as road improvements.,:95 cutting timber for fuel and getting water mills working again.:90 Jersey set up Summerland Factory which employed 250 people for sorting making and repairing clothes and shoes. Guernsey created a boot factory,:54 even so the waiting list for a pair of shoes could be a year.:160
Employees in businesses undertaking essential services including utilities were required to provide telephone, electric and water services to German buildings, including the new fortifications being built, as well as continuing with their normal work.
Civil servants had their pay cut, the governments also established a weekly wage rate of 2 pounds 10 shillings.:139 This was matched with a maximum price that could be charged for almost everything.:xxviii There were complaints the prices were too low, leading to selling "under the counter".:29
The German pay rates were £1 a week higher,:139 and attracted workers who could not live on the low wages paid in the civilian sector. The OT offered twice the normal island pay.:65 In Jersey 600 were attracted by the higher wages.:103
In most European countries the Germans demanded workers and took adults away to Germany to work in factories and on the land, this did not happen to Islanders.
The islands had been importing 80% of their food.:41 Despite the reduction in the civilian population following the departure of evacuees up to June 1940, the increasing number of German soldiers and from 1942 OT workers made demands on limited resources.
Initially commercial growing provided the bulk of food, with supplements brought in from France. Anyone who had a garden was encouraged to grow their own vegetables. Seeds were obtained from France once local supplies ran out.:5 Many people took to breeding hens and rabbits, however they were always prone to theft and had to be locked up and guarded.:71
Tobacco became very scarce, a pound of tobacco selling in 1945 for £112 (20% of the value of a small house).:51 The Guernsey Tobacco Company made 50 million cigarettes during the occupation.:111
Women generally spent hours a day queuing for what little food was available, sometimes using the waiting time to do knitting,:88 often getting to the front to find nothing was left, then after collecting sticks and water from a well, using ingenuity and time preparing a meal, with the man (and if there were children those also), eating more than their fair share.:xxvii
The number of cats and dogs in the islands reduced as the war progressed, many owned by evacuees having been put down in June 1940. Others died from the lack of food to give them and for the nutritional value they could offer.:209 There was an explosion in the rat population in Guernsey and a reward of half a ‘’Reichsmark’’ was offered by the Rat Destruction Committee for every three tails.:78 9,506 tails were paid for in 1940.
Calories for civilians from food controlled by rations amounted to roughly 1,350 per day in the 1941-44 period. The minimum amount is 1,500 for women and 2,000 for men.:57 Rationed calories halved in the winter of 1944/5 making food an obsession, with the poor in the towns having to spend hours queuing for a few cabbage leaves and potato peelings, fainting with hunger, even after the life saving Red Cross parcels started to arrive.:28
Commercial growing of tomatoes in Guernsey continued during 1940 to 1943 with tons being shipped out to France on German military shipping.:38 In Jersey the potato crops were grown as in normal years with the food used for exports and local consumption. Seed potatoes for Guernsey were acquired from France.:84
Lack of fertiliser began to show decreases in productivity. The local Vraic was difficult to harvest as access to beaches was restricted.:101 During 1942-3 Jersey lost access to 1,555 acres of arable land, 10% of the total, as they fell within newly fortified areas.:128
Requisition of food
The obligation of the bailiwicks to pay the cost of the occupation meant that the governments had to pay the food for the soldiers.:89 The Germans requisitioned food that was grown so it was shared between the civilians and soldiers. The proportion was by negotiation but with the Germans holding the control, it would move more in favour of the soldiers as the war progressed, even so the soldiers were close to starving during winter 1944-45.
Important industries in the islands, some of the fishing boats had sailed away to England in June 1940. Fishing was banned in September 1940 following an escape. When permitted again, restrictions were put over them, including limiting their access to fuel.
Whenever another boat fled the islands, restrictions would increase, with a German guard boat or a soldier often placed on each boat. The fish catch decreased but provided a useful source of calories with Germans taking 20% of all catches.:48
Fish was rationed, 1 pound (0.45 kg) a week per household from May 1941.:43
Shore gathering of limpets, winkles and ormers were permitted in certain places at certain times. Rod fishing was also permitted on some beaches,:49 care had to be taken of barbed wire and mines. Limpet pie was quite tasty but required two hours of boiling before being trimmed and then baked with swede in an oven.:43
Rationing in line with rationing in England was already operating when the islands were occupied,:101 amendments to suit the food available from France was introduced in August 1940 . The ration supplies were under the orders of the Manche district of France and the islands set up a ‘’purchasing commission’’ in the port of Granville to supply what needs could be met from French sources. Tens of thousands of tons of goods were purchased for cash, the goods being freighted to the islands on German shipping.
Every type of food, excluding vegetables and fruit, were soon rationed,:51 as was clothing and footwear. Milk was rationed from October 1940 to half a pint per day, the island herds not being slaughtered for meat as milk, butter and cheese was considered more important.:46
Rations were reduced for civilians, until by the end of 1944 they were at a slow starvation level. The level of rations depended on whether you were a German, civilian:51 or heavy manual worker.:128 Prostitutes were graded heavy manual workers.:146
Soap was exhausted in 1941 and substituted with small quantities of poor quality French soap,:118 skin complaints resulted. Babies, children, expectant mothers and invalids received different rations.:52
Cigarettes were initially rationed at 20 per week, German soldiers received that per day. People were allowed to grow tobacco, upon paying a fee, and as the war progressed, tobacco was mixed with other substances to dilute it.:55
In June 1944 a weekly ration in Guernsey stood at::73
- In Jersey they issued 7 pounds (3.2 kg) potatoes and 5.5 pints of full milk per week.
- ǂIn February 1945 the first four in the list stopped as stocks had run out.:73
Red Cross parcels
A few hundred parcels were received in spring 1943 having been forwarded from detainees in Oflag V-B which was located at Biberach an der Riß and Ilag VII in Laufen. The deportees having been treated as POW's received a generous supply of parcels and knowing conditions in the islands, used the German post service to deliver treats to friends and families.:124
Following the August 1944 British refusal to allow the evacuation of civilians from the Channel Islands, as proposed by the Germans, the Bailiff of Jersey with the agreement of the German authorities was allowed to send a message to Britain in November 1944 stating the level of food reserves available to the civilians with the request for Red Cross relief. In the autumn of 1944 various escapees had passed similar messages to the British about conditions in the Islands. Britain agreed to the request and the British Joint War Organisation (British Red Cross and Order of St John) worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRS) to organise the relief from Lisbon.:165
The arrival at the end of December 1944 of the ICRC ship SS Vega bringing Red Cross parcels certainly saved lives. The ship would return four more times before liberation on 9 May 1945.:61 The third voyage brought flour, as the island had run out in February, it was white and enabled a 2 pounds (0.91 kg) loaf to be given to every civilian.:160
460,000 food parcels, each weighing over 10 pounds (4.5 kg) from Canada and New Zealand were delivered to the islands to be distributed by the ‘’Joint War Organisation’’, a British collaboration of St. John Ambulance and the British Red Cross, to the 66,000 civilian population. They were the same as parcels sent to Prisoners of War.:62
Church collections in aid of the Red Cross in early 1945 raised thousands of pounds, as people were so thankful for the help they were receiving.:130 In total, £171,000 was raised by October 1945, equivalent to around £6,000,000 in today's money.:159 This would continue after the war with the Red Cross being a highly favoured charity.
Clothing and shoes were quickly rationed as shops sold out. Jersey opened the Summerland factory to make clothes out of blankets, curtains and sheets. Nothing was thrown away, knitted objects were unravelled and remade. Other clothes were patched and repaired. Clothes in houses that belonged to evacuated people were requisitioned.:53 As people lost weight due to the diet, new clothes needed to be found or clothes adjusted. Elastic supplies ran out. Shortages of needles and thread were relieved with supplies from France.
Shoes were a major problem, leather became impossible to obtain. Soles of shoes were made out of rope and wood. Uppers were knitted. 45,000 pairs of sabot were made in Jersey.:54 Such inflexible shoes gave people foot troubles. Through 1943 the controller of footwear in Guernsey was supplying 60 people a day with shoes.:75
Washing clothes became a problem as time moved on, no soap and no fuel to heat water to wash clothes in. Most people outside the towns used wells as a source of water.
Banks and shops
People evacuating had been limited to the amount of cash they could withdraw, these people putting deeds and valuables in safe deposit boxes. Germans later demanded access to these safe deposit boxes, looking for valuables. A box of gold coins from Barclays Bank, Guernsey, was carried on board an evacuation ship by one of the bank's employees.
£384,043 in English money was left in the Channel Islands. British notes and coins became rare in 1941 and were supplemented by islands printing notes ranging from 6d to £1.:48 German occupation marks were in circulation at a fixed exchange rate of two shillings and a penny to a ‘’Reichsmark’’, favourable to the Germans.:97
At the end of the war ‘’Reichsmarks’’ were exchanged back to Pounds at face value, a three-ton British army truck having arrived in each island loaded with £1m of English bank notes, which annoyed one farmer who had burnt two suitcases full of occupation notes a few days before, thinking they were worthless.:196
Shops quickly ran out of supplies, the buyers were German soldiers wanting to send parcels of luxuries home as well as locals, who had some money, buying up goods whilst they were available.:35 Shops also hoarded goods, waiting for prices to rise.:27
There were few supplies arriving in the islands from France to restock the shops. Almost all goods had a government fixed maximum price attached with vendors being fined heavily for selling above the set price.
Bartering became common, advertisements in shops and the local papers offered a wide range of goods to meet a specific urgent need of the advertiser. Exchanges such as a nightgown for flour or a breeding rabbit for good shoes. Empty shops became exchange locations for a small fee.:48
Shops specialising in repair were in high demand, especially bicycle shops, and machinery and shoe repair shops. Old fire hoses were made into bicycle tyres, as were garden hoses.:77 Chemists were called on to create exhausted items, like glue and matches. Oil and paraffin lamps were made from tins.:53
Hoarding food and goods became a business as rationing became stricter and shortages grew worse. Goods could always be traded. Both hoarding and bartering certain goods were illegal. There were 100 prosecutions in Guernsey in 1944, up from 40 in 1942.:67
Dealers in the black market included German officers and men as well as OT workers and many civilians. The worst off during the occupation were the poor in the island towns those who had no access to farms and could not afford the black market prices. The rich did not live well, but at least could buy adequate quantities of basic food.:130 Prisoners could supplement their worse than normal rations by paying heavily for black market foods to be brought to them.:106
5,000 Guernsey school children had been evacuated and many of the now empty classrooms closed. Some schools were used for barracks by soldiers and administrative offices,:95 the Forest school in Guernsey became a hospital, as was the Jersey College for Girls building. A few teachers had remained in Guernsey and a few retired teachers helped teach the children who stayed, 1,421 in Guernsey, of which 1,100 were in school.:53
In Jersey, the reverse happened, all but 1,000 of the 5,500 children stayed in the island with 140 teachers.:193 All schools were provided with air raid shelters for the children. Sitting 11 year exams continued as normal in Jersey in January 1941 with children taking the bus to St Helier, talking amongst themselves in Jèrriais.:197 The only change to the curriculum was the compulsory teaching of German as a language from January 1942, taught by local teachers to avoid German officers being sent into schools. Supplies such as paper, were short so slates were reintroduced.:95
The school leaving age in Jersey was increased to 15 to try to stop youngsters getting into trouble on the streets,:198 despite this, two girls aged 14 and 15 spent three days in jail for spitting cherry stones at Germans.:201 The classrooms still in use were unheated and lighting was limited, even so examinations were set and sat by the older pupils. After the war leaving certificates were presented once papers had been marked externally.:59
The occupation had a limited impact, band concerts in parks were provided by the Germans.:67 Theatres stayed open, sometimes operating in church halls, until summer 1944. Censors limited productions and the curfew required productions to start earlier than normal.:20 During the summer of 1943 75,000 attended shows at Candie in Guernsey.:54
Cinemas stayed open, with separation of German soldiers and civilians, however the number of films was limited, Jersey and Guernsey exchanged their films which were supplemented with French and German language films from the continent. When allied soldiers were shown, even if prisoners, the local audience would cheer. Interest in the cinema flagged for civilians when the supply of English films ran out.:19
Dance classes took place through the war. Dances with German soldiers and local girls took place from 1942, however in 1943 they were banned in Jersey due to an outbreak of diphtheria.:22 A dance show in Guernsey attracted an audience of 500 a performance for a fortnight.:50
Boxing tournaments were popular entertainment,:68 as were Beetle Drives.:19 Public houses stayed open, with reduced hours and limits on selling hard spirits. Card games, including the local Euchre, darts and Shove ha'penny were popular.
Sport was also popular and continued as a relief from boredom, until the shortage of food left people without the energy to participate.:24 Occasionally games were followed by a visit to a pub for a half pint, if they had some. One football match attracted a crowd of over 4,000.:23 There were recorded games against German teams, a football game in July 1940 was won by Guernsey.:30 Sport also included, cricket, baseball,:26 rugby and in 1940 a church to church walk.:147
With the curfew, home entertaining had to finish earlier than normal, whether it was having a meal, a musical evening or to play card games, or else everyone spent the night, returning home next morning.:24
From 6 June 1944, all amusements and theatres were closed. Curfew was extended from 9 pm to 6 am. Distant guns could be heard.:92 Care had to be taken during the war over showing a light at night as it was not unknown for a German soldier to simply shoot at a lit window.:102
Many clubs were allowed to stay open, after applying for permission, with a few exceptions, such as the Salvation Army:52 the Odd Fellows and many children's clubs including the Scouts, Girl Guides, Boys' Brigade and Girls' Life Brigade.:157 The Freemasons were closed down, but avoided persecution, as had happened elsewhere although moveable property was stolen and the buildings devastated by Germans. There were occasional restrictions placed on numbers of people meeting, such as at military funerals following the large numbers who turned out to pay their respects to drowned British sailors.
Transport and fuel
The rationing of petrol caused civilian cars and then motorcycles to leave the roads within days of the occupation starting. A limited bus service ran for a while.:54 Some delivery vans were allowed. Bicycles becoming the standard form of transport, strong bikes were requisitioned by the Germans.:91
The horse and cart came back into use for freight :90 and as a horse-drawn bus,:122 with old prams being used by people to transport heavy goods. Attaching a basket to a walking stick also helped.:158
Immediately rationed from July 1940, civilian cars almost ceased to operate.:94 There were exceptions such as for doctors, a number of people had to swop to motorcycles to eke out the legal fuel ration. The mileage of vehicles had to be reported to ensure black market fuel was not being added, leading to needing to disconnect speedometers to avoid discovery.:138
A large number of vehicles were requisitioned by the Germans and shipped to France. Over 100 buses, cars, vans, lorries and even an ambulance were converted to run on wood gas, produced using charcoal and wood, called Gazogene units:55
Heating, lighting and cooking
Coal could no longer be imported from June 1944 and ran out three months later.:196 Small amounts of peat were cut for fuel. Gas was restricted from 1941, both by appliances and the hours when it was available, running out completely in December 1944.:193
Electricity restrictions started in April 1942, with limited usage and hours of use, the supply ceasing in February 1945.:128 The shortage of power for pumping caused the piped water supply to be restricted.
The cutting of wood was restricted from the start of the occupation and rationed from July 1941. Gathering wood needed a permit, even if on your own land. Late in the war people started stripping empty houses of wood then burning furniture. In December 1944 a household with 6 people with no gas or electricity were allowed 2cwt, 224 pounds (102 kg) of wood a week.:92 The scenery had changed by the end of the war, many thousands of trees had been cut down all over the islands.:30
Paraffin lamps were made out of tins. It was only allowed for lighting and supplies ran out in July 1944.:93 Candles were scarce, households were allowed only one per week. Matches were also very scarce.:196
Haybox cooking became popular. This required food in a pot to be brought up to heat, then the pot was placed in the centre of a box, packed with hay and left to cook slowly for hours, without using additional fuel.:26
Furze ovens were brought back into use in old farmhouses. Communal kitchens were set up,:81 as early as 1940. Jersey using commercial facilities such as bakeries had produced 400,000 meals by the end of 1943 and the States of Jersey had supplied over 2,000,000 pints of soup.:48 Guernsey relied more on mobilising the voluntary sector.:111
Sawdust stoves were made from a tin, with the compacted sawdust mixed with tar burnt to create heat.:102
All external telephone links were severed within days of occupation and all radio transmitters were seized. Post was disrupted and subject to censorship and control, with initially no post permitted outside of the islands. English postage stamps continued in use, when they ran out in 1941, 2d stamps were cut diagonally in half to make 1d stamps.:60 and in both islands local stamps were printed, in Jersey incorporating the royal cipher GR.:97
In September 1940 the first letters allowed to be sent via the Red Cross from Jersey were limited to 220 in number. The Germans initially refused to accept any letters to anyone who had evacuated the Island before the invasion.:47
In Guernsey in 1940, the Germans proposed, instead of letters, to record a message to be transmitted by them over a radio so that people in Britain could listen. The message recorded by Ambrose Sherwill was broadcast and caused controversy as it mentioned the exemplary conduct of the German soldiers and how the population was being well looked after.:48 This was not the way Churchill wished the Germans to be perceived, but would have provided comfort to islanders in Britain.
During the occupation, no civilians had access to a radio transmitter, nor was any attempt made from England to deliver one to the islands.
Red Cross Messages
Red Cross messages became very important to the islanders. Normally routed via Germany then Sweden or Portugal, it could take weeks or months to arrive. The number of words written on the cards was limited, as well as vetted.:100 Many islanders placed secret codes in their messages to their evacuated relatives. Many Red Cross letters were published in a monthly magazine, The Channel Islands Monthly Review created in Stockport, England by adult Channel Island evacuees.
This was one area where restriction were gradually lifted, the number of words increased from 10 to 25.:47 The number and frequency of cards one could send also increased. The requirement to come and collect your message changed to simply posting the message to recipients.:73
Nearly one million messages were dealt with by the bureau volunteers before the islands were isolated in late 1944 and messages stopped.:100
Newspapers were censored from the start, with papers often carrying articles written by Germans who purported to be editors. Printing exactly what they were given, the bad English used in "German" articles gave away the propaganda items.:117 During those months when it was possible to listen to the BBC openly it was also clear who was telling the truth. A Jersey paper written in Jersey French caused problems for the Germans as they could not translate it and it ceased production.:95
Paper became scarce so newspapers became smaller, dropping to just one page and then began to print on alternate days. Official announcements being displayed in shop windows.:117
Resistance newssheets were printed secretly as a means of circulating news from the BBC. Most people involved were eventually arrested and a number died in prisons.:112 Allied propaganda leaflets were not dropped after summer 1940. In autumn 1944 leaflets were dropped to encourage Germans to surrender.:185
Libraries were popular and operated through the war after having some titles withdrawn through censorship.:154
For the first four months, radio receivers were permitted and people could listen to the BBC. Then, following a preliminary commando raid when two men were trapped in Guernsey, 8,000 radios were confiscated and handed in within Guernsey alone. It was easy to identify owners as (almost) everyone had a BBC Radio licence.:107 Returned in December 1940 they were again confiscated in June 1942 for "military reasons" a coincidence that it followed a devastating raid by 1,000 bombers on Cologne.:108
If people had more than one radio, they might hold one back, or just hand in an old broken set. Other people made crystal radio sets.:57 It was possible to make crystals, wire was available, the hardest object was a speaker. Stripping down telephone receivers, solved that problem.:96
Radios and crystal sets had to be well hidden as listening to them had severe penalties of up to six months in prison with a very heavy fine. Imprisonment of a number of people resulting in some deaths, including Frederick William Page who died in Naumburg-an-der-Saale penal prison.:154
The BBC did not broadcast any programmes aimed at the Channel Island civilians for fear of retribution being made against the civilians,:19 it left the islanders feeling forgotten although in July 1940 on the Forces programme a message was transmitted about the progress of evacuated children.:44 and on 24 April 1942 a message was sent. 20 minute programmes were scheduled by the BBC for Christmas Day 1941. and on the same day in 1942 however it is not known if they were broadcast 
Every day rumours circulated, a few even having a semblance of truth, expanded and changed they would return again and again to the same listener,:61 similar to the children's game Chinese whispers. Malicious tongues, false statements and sheer inventions created false truths about people.:123
A few rumours helped morale, especially ones where the Germans came off worst, such as one involving five local doctors, each dressed in a singlet and shorts marched down to a closed beach singing German songs, past a sentry. After a nice swim they returned, marching past the sentry and went home.:140
Alderney and Sark
There were almost no civilians in Alderney during the occupation, the handful that did, worked to feed themselves and undertook work for the thousands of OT workers and soldiers. In addition a few local islanders were asked to undertake temporary work in Alderney, such as marine divers.
On Sark, apart from two raids by British commandos, Operation Basalt and Hardtack 7, an Avro Lancaster bomber crash landing on the island  and some of their citizens being included in the deportations, their war, thanks to the Dame of Sark, Sibyl Hathaway, was peaceful and the soldiers very well behaved. The island supplied fish to Guernsey in exchange for other goods.:29
The reduction in normally accepted facilities, heating, warm food, warm dry clothing, soap as well as a poor diet resulted in an increase in minor ailments such as dysentery, head lice and scabies, and in major ailments such as typhus, brought to the islands by Russian OT workers.:28 This resulted in a number of deaths.:57 Typhoid and infectious hepatitis appeared more frequently as the war progressed and clean water became scarce.:29
Ambulances changed from motorised back to a horse-drawn wagons.:57 Doctors, dentists, nurses and St John ambulance staff worked quite closely together, treating civilians, soldiers and OT workers. There were restrictions regarding helping injured German soldiers from 1942.:240 Each group had their own hospital.
An outbreak of diphtheria in Jersey quickly led to the island running out of antitoxin, it was contained by isolation and bans on public gatherings.:27 Medical supplies where possible, were made locally, bandages made from torn up sheets, moss was an alternative for cotton wool,:117 with some medicines sourced from France. A few supplies, such as insulin, came through after 1942 from the Red Cross,:134 but too late for 30 patients in Jersey.:30
Babies born during the occupation received the best facilities available, irrespective of whom the father might be, with midwives in Jersey having to learn the different way female Soviet OT workers birthed and then wrapped up their babies in a cacoon.:35
Malnutrition became common amongst most civilians, some losing up to 40% of their body weight,:32 this led to related illnesses, with swellings, bad teeth and making them susceptible to diseases like tuberculosis. The death rate in January 1945 in Jersey was three times normal.:33
There were accidents and crimes against civilians resulting in serious injury and death throughout the occupation, such as: A 17 year old who trod on a mine and died.:5 Shrapnel from exploding anti aircraft shells caused injuries.:25 A sea mine near Herm exploded and sank a fishing boat killing two.:31 A man was killed in Jersey when shot on the beach trying to escape.:108 A man was seriously burnt by an improvised petrol lamp.:130 A man was killed and a woman badly injured by two intruders.:91 One workman killed and three injured when British bombers attacked Guernsey airport.:28 Farmers and house owners were injured and even killed defending their crops.:126 A 20 year old lady cyclist died after hitting a wall.:173 A 9-year-old boy died pulling a beam from an air raid shelter to take for firewood.:5 Bad treatment and conditions, especially in French prisons, resulted in numerous deaths.
Deaths during the occupation within the Bailiwicks::175–9
- German forces: about 550
- OT workers: over 700 (500 graves and 200 drowned when a ship was sunk)
- Allied forces: about 550 (504 from the sinking of HMS Charybdis and HMS Limbourne)
- Civilians: about 150, mainly air raids, deportees and in prisons
- (excludes hundreds of civilian Island deaths from suicide, malnutrition and the cold, in 1943 there were 460 deaths in Guernsey and 719 in Jersey, under 2% of the populations, from 1944 the death rate rose, with over 200 deaths in Guernsey in the first quarter of 1944 alone.:116 Winter 1944-45 was worse and in addition there were those who died during 1945-46, never having recovered from the ordeal.)
Expected for several weeks, at dawn on 9 May 1945 Allied ships were visible from Guernsey. Crowds gathered and a few British troops landing amidst great celebrations, German troops remained in barracks. Some ships went on to Jersey to make an official landing and accept their surrender. Men, vehicles and supplies were pouring ashore from Force 135, by 12 May.:93–4
After the initial jubilation, the practical aspects of getting the islands "back to normal" could begin.
Initial needs for food, clothing, medicines and basics, even toilet paper, were brought in on landing ships until harbours could be cleared of mines. German soldiers were shipped out on the now empty landing ships. Arms and ammunition were collected and civilians went souvenir hunting, pistols, daggers and medals were very popular. Military equipment was gathered together. Mine clearing took months. Mines are still being found in the islands.
The 20,000 evacuees started to return in batches from July,:37 with 2,000 deportees returning in August. The children, many of whom were very young when they had left five years earlier, hardly knew their relatives and many could no longer speak the local Patois language. Many evacuees felt that they were treated as second class citizens by those who had remained during the occupation, because they had left in 1940. Men and women who had volunteered for the armed services returned when demobbed, mainly in 1946. Relationships would have been difficult at first. Returned children not understanding why you did not throw any food away, even having to eat apple cores.:39
Accusations and recriminations flew around. Some civilians were angry at the Germans, some at the British for abandoning them and many at other civilians for how they had behaved. Investigators turned up looking for war crimes. The bulk of civilians went looking for work, rebuilding their strength with the improved food and medicines now available and trying to pick up their lives after five years of occupation. There was also a lot of work to do repairing damaged houses.:41 After spending years in POW camps in the UK, a handful of Germans returned to the islands to marry their sweethearts, as did a number of OT workers, they received mixed reactions from islanders.:215
The island governments were bankrupt, as they had to pay for the cost of the occupation.:108 They were helped by the British government with a grant. Rationing, as in the UK would continue until 1955.
- German occupation of the Channel Islands
- Living with the enemy in the German-occupied Channel Islands
- Deportations from the German-occupied Channel Islands
- Resistance in the German-occupied Channel Islands
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