The Bailiwick of Guernsey is a British Crown Dependency in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy.
Guernsey’s heritage is inextricably linked to the sea with a strong history of fishing, shipbuilding, privateering, as well as it being an important location for merchants. The traditional Guernsey jumper, famous for its warmth and water repellent wool is still used throughout the world today.
World War II was a defining part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey’s recent history. The hardship of the occupation began with the evacuation of the island’s children, and some adults to the United Kingdom on 20th June, 1940.
The evacuation had a huge impact on the island, not only in the look and feel, but also in the shift in population, traditions and language. Evacuees were away for over five years and following liberation in May 1945, some remained in the United Kingdom, whilst others brought back new husbands, wives and children.
During the occupation, some people from Guernsey were deported by the Germans to camps in the southwest of Germany, notably to Biberach an der Riß and interned in the Lindele Camp (“Lager Lindele”). There was also a concentration camp built in Alderney where forced labourers, predominantly from Eastern Europe, were kept. It was the only concentration camp built on British soil and is commemorated on memorials under Alderney’s name in French: ‘Aurigny’. Some 2200 UK-born islanders were also deported to prison camps in Germany, notably Biberach an der Riß. Also deported was Ambrose (later Sir Ambrose) Sherwill, who, as the President of the States Controlling Committee, was de facto head of the civilian population. Sir Ambrose, who was Guernsey-born, had served in the British Army during the First World War and later became Bailiff of Guernsey.
Certain laws were passed at the insistence of the occupying forces; for example, a reward was offered to informants who reported anyone for painting “V-for Victory” signs on walls and buildings, a practice that had become popular among islanders who wished to express their loyalty to Britain.
Three islanders of Jewish descent were deported to Auschwitz, never to return.
Every year on 9th May, the Island celebrates its freedom on Liberation Day.