Occupation of Channel Islands - Timeline

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This timeline of the German Occupation of the Channel Islands is an edited and abridged version of that contained in Paul Sanders’ 2005 book The British Channel Islands under German Occupation 1940-1945. The whole book can be found under Resources on the Occupation Memorial website and downloaded as a .pdf file.


Contents

1940

10 June Lieut-Governor Major General J Harrison, suggests to Home Office that evacuation is United Kingdom’s responsibility.
11-12 June Army decides to send troops to Jersey to oversee evacuation of women, children and men of military age, then reverses decision
The evacuation from St Malo
17 June Jersey ships sent to St Malo to help troops evacuate
18 June Home Office again decides to evacuate women, children and men of military age at meeting attended by Jurat Edgar Dorey
19 June Lieut-Governor informed of UK decision to demilitarise the islands and evacuation plan announced in Evening Post
20 June Last troops leave Jersey and Militia disbands. 23,000 people register for evacuation in Jersey. Jurat Dorey tells the States of Jersey of his ‘disgust’ at prospect of local people (‘who should be rooted to the soil’) leaving. Bailiff Alexander Coutanche speaks to crowd in Royal Square urging people to keep calm. German Admiral commanding France, Karl-Georg Schuster, receives orders from Berlin that the occupation of the Channel Islands is ‘urgent and important’.
21 June Lieut-Governors leave Jersey and Guernsey, leaving Bailiffs to assume their civil responsibilities.
22 June Home Office press release announcing demilitarisation is prepared but withheld.
24 June King George VI sends message to Bailiffs. Coutanche chairs first meeting of emergency council.
28 June German air raids on the islands (33 killed in Guernsey, 11 in Jersey). Demilitarisation announced on BBC 9 pm news.
30 June US Ambassador in London, Joseph Kennedy, asked to inform Germans of demilitarisation.
1 July German ultimatum dropped on Jersey and first troops arrive, commanded by Major Gussek. Major Albrecht Lanz, first Military Commander of Channel Islands, arrives in Guernsey. Orders issued in Jersey regarding curfew and other controls.
2 July Alderney occupied.
4 July Sark occupied.
Erich Gussek
8 July Second set of German orders issued in Jersey.
10 July Lieutenants Philip Martel and Desmond Mulholland land in Guernsey on reconnaisance mission.
15 July British attempt to land three parties totalling 140 men in Guernsey fails.
28 July After hiding with family members, Martel and Mulholland give themselves up. Sent to France as prisoners of war.
August Jean Louis Jouault represents Jersey on Purchasing Commission for islands which starts work in France.
9 August The civil affairs unit, Feldkommandantur 515, arrives in Jersey commanded by Colonel Schumacher.
10 August Census estimates Jersey’s population as 41,101.
4 September Further military landings in Guernsey to reconnoitre German troops. Plan to land Robert Le Masurier in Jersey abandoned.
17 September Communal meals for children begin in Jersey.
19 September Gussek leaves, handing military responsibilities to Prinz von und zu Waldeck; civil duties have been taken up by Schumacher.
26 September Oberst Rudolf Graf von Schmettow appointed CI military commander.
27 September First Order against Jews registered in Jersey, four weeks before Guernsey.
11 November Confiscation of wireless sets ordered in Jersey because of ‘cases of espionage’ in Guernsey
December Red Cross messages begin to arrive.

1941


January Building of detention camps in Alderney commences.
15 March News and Enquiry Office opens in Jersey to deal with Red Cross messages.
May Fortress Engineer officers carry out ‘preliminary surveys’ in the islands.
The Organisation Todt centre on People's Park
June Infantry Division 319 relieves Infantry Division 216 in the islands. Major General Erich Müller appointed military commander based in Guernsey, Von Schmettow remains in charge in Jersey.
June Hitler asks to see maps of the islands’ defences.
13 June Hitler orders reinforcement of the islands.
25 June Traffic switches to drive on right side of road
August Bread rationing introduced, following all other basic foodstuffs. Seasonal fruit and vegetables remain unrestricted.
3 September Dr Wilhelm Casper becomes Chief Administrator at Feldkommandantur 515.
12 September Hitler suggest deportation of 10 islanders for an German taken hostage by Britain in Iran.
October Germans demand lists of various categories of Jersey residents, including those born in the UK, British officers and reserve officers. Organisation Todt workers ordered to islands. Eventually up to 16,000 will arrive throughout the islands. Fuel rationing begins in Jersey.
21 September 22-year-old Denis Vibert escapes to England in 8-foot dinghy. Produces report for British Government on the situation in Jersey.
4 October Colonel Knackfuss succeeds Schumacher, who resigns on health grounds.
20 October Hitler issues order regarding fortification.
November Dr Fritz Todt, head of the Organisation Todt, visits CI

1942

The announcement of the execution of Francois Scornet was designed to prevent any thoughts of islanders trying to escape to England
17 March Frenchman Francois Scornet shot at St Ouen’s Manor for trying to escape from France to England.
7 April German military counter-intelligence (Abwehr) in France suggests ban on all islanders' radios.
21 April Three foreign single Jewish women deported from Guernsey to France. Sent to Auschwitz in July and die there.
May Trial of 17 Guernsey policemen for stealing from German stores. Guernsey police force put under German supervision.
3 May Dennis Audrain, Peter Hassall and Maurice Gould attempt to escape from Jersey. Audrain drowns, Hassall and Gould sent to Germany. Gould dies in 1943. Hassall survives.
30 May Knackfuss informed about decision to confiscate radios under Article 53 of Hague Convention.
6 June Bailiff of Jersey informed of confiscation of radios.
8 June Notice of confiscation in Evening Post
9 June Guernsey Bailiff writes to Coutanche about his protest against radio confiscation
13 June 10,050 Jersey radios confiscated indefinitely.
20 June Ten hostages taken in response to distribution of 'Patriots' bulletin denouncing confiscation of radios. Authors, the Gallichan brothers, give themselves up and receive prison sentences.
22 July Hitler talks about the future of the CI claiming that fortifications will prevent them being retaken by the British and that they will become a Ley health resort after the war.
13 August Over 1,000 foreign workers arrive in Jersey.
September Hitler reissues deportation order, after discovering that 1941 order was not carried out.
15 September Coutanche learns of deportation order and protests to Knackfuss, threatening resignation. Instructs Constables not to select deportees.
The Evening Post deportation announcement
16 September Superior Council decides States will provide ‘food, clothing, footwear, toys, books, education material, sewing machines and other articles’. 280 deportees leave Jersey.
18 September 346 deportees leave Jersey.
22 September Superior Council protests on basis of the Richthofen surrender document, guaranteeing inviolability of the lives, well-being and property of Channel Islanders in case of peaceful surrender.
29 September 560 deportees leave Jersey, bringing total to 1186.
December Red Cross parcels arrive at internment camps.
18 December Order for the Protection of the Occupying Authorities creates an offence of not reporting an infraction of German orders.

1943

January 1011 internees, all but 20 from CI, counted by Red Cross in Biberach.
February 201 further deportees
3 March Joseph Tierney arrested in St Saviour wireless case
9 April St Saviour wireless case trial. The sentences for ringleaders harsher than usual. Four eventually taken to the Continent, including Canon Clifford Cohu, who dies at the SS ‘work education camp’ in Zöschen, in September 1944.
May Allied raids on shipping in the CI area lead to German decision to reduce food rations to British nationals. Coutanche threatens appeal to Red Cross. Cuts moderated but extended to all islanders. Ration levels reinstated after three months. While investigating robbery, Jersey police informed that James Davey and Frederick Page have radios. Germans informed. Page will die in German prison. Wehrmacht strength in islands reaches 26,800 (13,000 in Guernsey, 10,000 in Jersey, 2,850 in Alderney).
The announcement of radio confiscation
4 September Müller leaves the islands and is replaced by von Schmettow who moves to Guernsey. Colonel Heine replaces von Schmettow in Jersey.
16 November Baron von Aufsess replaces Dr Casper as chief administrator in CI.
15 December Occupation Mark withdrawn from circulation in France. Remains in use in CI.

1944

January 484,000 cubic metres of reinforced concrete have been used on CI fortifications, one twelfth of the total for the Atlantic Wall. Eelven heavy batteries with 38 strongpoints, more than along the 600 mile stretch of French coastline from Dieppe to Saint Nazaire.
2 March Feldkommandant Knackfuss leaves Jersey, to face trial over ‘defeatist remarks’.
19 May Baron von Aufsess becomes principal German administrator.
June Allied landing in Normandy. CI German garrison put on high alert.
30 June One of the last groups of prisoners, including Louisa Gould and Harold Le Druillenec, reaches St Malo, together with slave workers from Alderney.
22 July German military governor in France contemplates evacuation (to the UK) of all islanders not active in food production and essential infrastructure, or an approach to the International Red Cross for relief measures.
August St Malo recaptured by Allied forces and last CI link with France is cut.
31 August Coutanche sends memo to the Germans on food supplies. Allies drop leaflets.
1 September Two letters on SHAEF notepaper are dropped in the Channel Islands for the attention of von Schmettow.
September German High Command orders reduction of food distribution to the civilian population to the absolute minimum, or evacuation. Gas supply ceases in Jersey.
22 September Allies seek early surrender but Von Schmettow refuses to meet envoys off the coast of Guernsey.
27 September British government informed by Swiss of the food situation in the CI, and German preparedness to accept evacuation of the civilians or relief through Red Cross. Churchill demands pressure on Germans to surrender.
October Germans launch campaign of islands-wide searches for food hoards.
30 October Superior Council hands communication to the Protecting Power to von Aufsess.
November Requisitions of food continue. Medical services grind to standstill. Insulin running low.
7 November Churchill agrees to send relief to the islands.
December Red Cross vessel ‘Vega’ leaves Lisbon on 20 December for first of several trips to the CI, docking at Guernsey on 27 December and Jersey three days later, carrying 750 tons of supplies saving the population from starvation.

1945

Vice-Admiral Huffmeier decorates Germans involved in the raid on Granville
January Electricity supply ends.
27 February Von Schmettow replaced by Vice Admiral Hüffmeier, in overall command of islands.
7 March Explosion rocks Palace Hotel in Jersey, a training school for officers.
9 March German raid on Granville.
30 April Death of Hitler.
8 May Islanders listen to Churchill’s radio broadcast.
9 May German forces surrender. Liberation.
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