The life of islanders during the German Occupation

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The life of islanders during the German Occupation


On the way home with food parcels from the Vega

Propaganda film

These pictures are stills taken from a German propaganda film, clearly intending to portray St Helier as a busy town in the wake of the 1940 invasion. The film probably dates to later that year, or early 1941, because buses became a much more infrequent sight on island roads as fuel supplies ran short.

Family photographs

Photography was banned from the earliest days of the Occupation, except for a very few islanders given special permits. Those who did have cameras and film either had to process the film themselves or keep it safe until the Occupation was over. This means that very few pictures of ordinary family life during the war were taken, and even fewer still exist. Very few were processed to a high enough standard to allow the picture quality to survive over 80 years. These two images are a welcome exception. They were sent to us by the family who have preserved them since they were taken in 1942. Unfortunately we do not know the names of the young people pictured, nor the location of the beach on the left. The picture on the right was taken on the coast in Grouville Bay, showing Gorey and Mont Orgueil Castle in the background. Perhaps the photograph was taken outside one of the family chalets which lined the coast and had yet to be demolished, as all eventually were. That seems the only explanation for the substantial table and chairs which, with private use of cars no longer permitted, could hardly have been transported any distance

Restricted areas


Queuing for food for pets at the Animal Shelter
Many areas of public land were used for growing potatoes

Befriending the enemy

Possibly a propaganda photograph, but more likely just a snapshot of a Jersey girl and a German soldier relaxing together on the Esplanade in front of the Grand Hotel

Red X messages

Letters from France

Jersey was not entirely isolated for most of the Occupation. Although there was no postal service with the UK - Red Cross letters were the only means of communication between islanders and friends and family on the other side of the Channel. But letters could be received from France, also Occupied by the Germans until after D-day in 1944. Here are some examples, as well as one sent from occupied Netherlands, which had been opened and re-sealed by the German censors


Islanders were subject to all manner of controls during the Occupation, as evidenced by these permits and orders

Not a permit, as such, but all households were required to keep a census-style return of occupants and display it inside their front door, so that the Germans would know who should be in the house in the event of a surprise inspection. It is not known if the originals of these documents were kept, because if they were available today they would collectively amount to a census of the civilian population


Whatever the Germans wanted, they took, often without any, or adequate, compensation. Their bureaucracy ensured that requisitions required much paperwork

Authorised fishing vessels and boat requisitions

Military funeral

Island officials including Bailiff Alexander Coutanche attended the military funeral for Sergeants D C Butlin and A Holden whose bodies were washed ashore after their aircraft was shot down

Sundry images

This picture was taken during the Occupation, but it is not known when, or who the woman with her pram was. It seems likely that it was taken early in the Occupation years because the woman is extrmely well dressed, which few islanders were as the war progressed
Drying peat cut for fuel

Potato clamps at Les Peupliers, St Ouen, and another location in St Mary. The Germans ordered the lifting of some stored potatoes to be sent to France. Photographs by Emile Guiton, one of the few people licensed to take photographs during the Occupation

Pictures from Occupation scrapbooks

During the Occupation a number of islanders kept diaries, others filled scrapbooks with family memorabilia and newspaper cuttings which charted the progress of the war. The following pictures are taken from these scrapbooks

General Von Richthofen reviews German troops in St Brelade's Bay

Tower demolition

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