Discover Jersey’s Occupation Story
From Occupation to Liberation (1940 - 1945)
The German Occupation of Jersey began one week after the British government had demilitarised the island fearing for the safety of civilians should there be any conflict. The codename for this was “Operation Green Arrow” and the initial German Air Force reconnaissance flights mistake civilian farming lorries for troop carriers. On the 28th of June 1940 , the German Air Force, not knowing of the demilitarisation, bomb and machine gun multiple sites on the island. The attacks killed ten people and wound many more. A few days later on the 1 of July 1940 General Richthofen, The Commander of the German Air Forces in Normandy, dropped an ultimatum from the air demanding the immediate surrender of the island. White flags and crosses were placed in prominent positions, as stipulated by the Germans, and later that day Jersey was occupied by air-borne troops under the command of Hauptmann Gussek with the Navy transporting troops from St Malo.
Above German troops leaving St Malo for Jersey. Below the airport is under a new command (Bundesarchiv)
Under the occupying forces, one of the greatest hardships was the lack of news from the mainland after the Germans had outlawed the use of crystal radio sets. A number of individuals risked imprisonment by making their own sets and spreading frontline news. Horse drawn traffic became an increasingly regular sight as petrol shortages became severe, and many vehicles were converted to use gas. The price of bicycles rose, and their use was restricted to those connected to essential services. The German’s ordered all traffic to drive on the wrong side of the road. The island was also moved to Central European time. Hitler ordered the conversion of Jersey into an impregnable fortress. Thousands of slave workers from countries like Russia, Spain, France, Poland, and Algeria built hundreds of bunkers, anti-tank walls, railway systems, as well as many tunnel complexes. In late 1943 the Tunnel Complex Ho8 (now known as the Jersey War Tunnels) in St. Lawrence was converted from an artillery workshop and barracks to an emergency casualty clearing station able to cope with up to 500 patients. All of the fortifications built around the island were part of Hitler’s ‘Atlantic Wall’. Today, traces of Jersey’s defences and wartime occupation can be discovered across the island, especially in St. Ouen’s Bay.
Below construction starts at Batterie Lothringen and Batterie Moltke (Bundesarchiv).
One of the most common questions we are asked on our tours is whether there was any attempt by the British to get back the islands. Operation Constellation was the code name of one of the missions planned by Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1943 to take back the Channel Islands. ‘Condor’ was the name given to the Jersey part of the operation. After a period of heavy bombing Jersey would be taken back at force. Approved by most of the high command, no air support was offered due to what was seen to be as an excessive loss of civilian life. The liberation of the Channel Islands would have to wait until after D-day.
Above is a photo of the map drawn up for the invasion of Jersey, courtesy of the National Archives, Kew
Photograph shows American soldiers landing at OMAHA,Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944
“We took off and headed out over the English Channel. As far as you could see were C-47s We got no flak until we passed the Channel Islands. Shortly thereafter we did a left flank and went into Normandy”.
May 8, 1945: Winston Churchill waves to crowds gathered in Whitehall on VE Day Keystone/Getty Images
• Always get permission from the owner
• Take a torch, a spare and one more for luck
• Don't go alone & tell someone where you will be and for how long
• You will get dirty as most are often full of rubbish and may have been used as a public toilet
• Anything you find still belongs to the person that owns the property
• Unexploded ordnance is still found in Jersey if you see or find anything that looks like ordnance please call the bomb disposal officer on 01534 612 612.
Widerstandsnest (WN) = Resistance Nest (RN)
Small pocket of resistance, these would be made up of small groups of up to 10 men with light weapons. They would man Anti-tank weapons, an observation post or a field gun.
Stützpunkt St.P = Strongpoint (STP)
Next level up from an RN and consisted of several RN's. STP areas would have a combination of weapons and different branches of the military used. Examples of this can be found with Strongpoint Greve de Lecq and Strongpoint Corbiere
Einsatzstellung = Operational Position or Action Post
Smaller MG type position generally it was only maned during an alert
Feldwache = Field Watch
Jäger Casemate was a special design and name for bunkers designed to hold a 10.5cm field gun
Sources of Information
German Documents are housed at The National Archived in Washington or Archive in Kew UK
T-78 Roll 318
T-78 Roll 317
T-315 Roll 1639
T-315 Roll 1643
T-311 Roll 27
T-312 Roll 1545
Operation Green Arrows - Occupation of the Channel Islands MOD 584
Allied Technical Intelligence Reports 1944-45
German Preparations for Invasion of the United Kingdom 1941-42
B-833, 319th Infantry Division (1941-45)
German Seacoast Defenses, European Theatre - prepared by the Seacoast Artillery Evaluation Board
Jersey Occupied by Michael Ginns - ISBN 978-1-905095-29-2
Operation Nestegg Plans
Operation Hardtack Plans
Operation Basalt Plans
RAF Photos care of The National Collection of Aerial Photography
Bundesarchiv - Multiple Photos - and Files
A Map of slave labour camps. Kindly Provided by Emilio Pérez
Photo's and information provided by fans
Onsite visits & internet research
After the Battle Multiple Magazines
If we have used any photos or information which you believe to posted without permission, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Links of other excellent websites and people you must support.
The National Trust for Jersey are a fantastic group and we can not praise them enough for the work they do. Please go support them as their vision is to permanently protect Jersey's natural beauty, rich wildlife and historic places for everyone to enjoy and experience.
Jersey Heritage look after multiple sites most with links to the Second World War and all worth a visit. The archive they have is amazing and one of the best sources of information. It can be used online or in person and we ask you to please support all they do.
The Channel Island Occupation Society are guardians of 5 sites which have all been restored or have been made to look like they did in the Second World War. Visits to these sites help fund the work they do and we encourage you to take a look at the opening times and visit them. They also have a wide range of books and reviews, all of which are an excellent resource for education.
Whether you are an established Battlefield Guide, retired from the craft, interested in how it is done or considering a future in guiding, the International Guild of Battlefield Guides is for you. Kimberley and Phil are both associate members and recommend you visit their website to show support.