As a true ‘Guernsey Donkey’ which is what we are know as, I always have had a keen interest in books about the history of Guernsey. The occupation of Guernsey by the Germans in WW2 was a very traumatic time for islanders, for those who stayed and for those that were evacuated and split up from other family members.
There have also been some controversial stories written about the occupation, some shedding a shadow over some islanders that might have collaborated with the occupying forces. However, we never will know how we would have reacted ourselves during those difficult times. How far would you go to feed your starving family, or risk yourself or close friends or relatives being sent off the island, or worse! So I choose not to make a judgement on anyone’s actions.
There are of course other stories of brave actions by some islanders, who stuck two fingers up the the Germans. There is nowhere to hide on a tiny island, so this indeed was a risky path to follow.
A new book will be launched later this year; ‘Guernsey Evacuees: The Forgotten Evacuees of the Second World War’ which tell the story of many of the evacuees including over 5,000 Guernsey children who were evacuated with their school teachers, and most did not see their parents again for five long years.
You can find more about the book by author Gillian Mawson on her website.
In June 1940, 17,000 people fled Guernsey to England, including 5,000 school children with their teachers and 500 mothers as ‘helpers’. The Channel Islands were occupied on 30 June – the only part of British territory that was occupied by Nazi forces during the Second World War. Most evacuees were transported to smoky industrial towns in Northern England – an environment so very different to their rural island. For five years they made new lives in towns where the local accent was often confusing, but for most, the generosity shown to them was astounding. They received assistance from Canada and the USA – one Guernsey school was ‘sponsored’ by wealthy Americans such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Hollywood stars. From May 1945, the evacuees began to return home, although many decided to remain in England. Wartime bonds were forged between Guernsey and Northern England that were so strong, they still exist today.
You can pre-order this book and find other books about the German occupation of Guernsey here. (please note this is an Amazon affiliates link)