1st November 1948

Jersey’s Occupation peer dies

Bertram Godfray Falle fought Jersey’s cause in the House of Lords throughout the occupation, but barely lived long enough to see the island’s revival in the years following the Second World War.

In 1941, concerned that islanders’ only source of news was coming from the German authorities, he said to the Lords, “Is it too much to ask, therefore, that leaflets should be taken by air and dropped in Jersey and Guernsey, which are within half an hour of these shores, giving accurate war news and telling the people there that their families here are safe, and if possible giving their names? Frankly, the reason given to the public for the abandonment of these possessions of the Crown did not appeal to anyone. It was honestly meant, of course, but in my view there was a smell of cowardice about it.”

Thanks to the Red Cross

In 1943, when arguing that the British government should send food to the Channel Islands to feed the starving locals, he told the Lords, “thanks to the Red Cross I have received a reply to a message which I sent last summer to Jersey. Fully to understand these Red Cross messages, it must be remembered that there is a twenty-five-word maximum and it is necessary to know something about the mode of thought of the sender and also of the person who replies. This reply comes from my nearest relative, a lady of nearly my own age, and it tells its own story. The story is: “Planting in the garden for food.” That means that she is forced to dig and to plant in order to get food to remain alive. She is doing that at the age of about eighty. I hope your Lordships will understand what must be the comforts of living in that country at this moment! I have also read a Red Cross summary written by prisoners of war in Stalag XVII, and it says this: We are dining at eight. Bacon and beans, meat rolls, vegetables, tinned pears, custard, tea, coffee, Ovaltine, biscuits and cheese and cigarettes. We are always eating heartily. Parcels of food arrive safely. They are not eaten by the Germans, and cigarettes are not stolen. Your Lordships may remember that the Government have said in this House that food could not be sent to occupied territory such as the Channel Islands because the Germans would steal it.”

A legal career

Born in Jersey on 21 November 1859, his father was Constable of St Helier and later appointed a Jurat of the Royal Court, so it was all but inevitable that the young Falle would show an interest in the political life himself. Thus, after being educated at Victoria College he went on to study law at Cambridge and practiced at London’s Inner Temple.

He was first elected to Parliament in 1910, although not to represent Jersey. Rather, he stood for the Liberal Unionist Party in the Portsmouth constituency and, two years later, joined the Conservatives when his own party merged with it. Despite boundary changes, he continued to represent Portsmouth for the next 24 years until he was appointed a peer, as Baron Portsea, in 1934.


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