17th August 1945
Parliament commends Jersey’s wartime conduct
Three months after the Occupation, and a week before the military government set up in its wake was due to be dissolved, MP Sir John Anderson asked the Home Secretary, James Ede to make a statement on the conduct of those living in the Channel Islands throughout the war. The result was a glowing commendation.
After pointing out that nobody who hadn’t lived under occupation could fully understand what it must have been like, he warned that certain actions “may easily give rise to unjustifiably harsh criticism”. He then pointed out that in Jersey the ratio of garrisoned German soldiers to local residents had fluctuated between one in three and one in four.
Civil administrators praised
Nonetheless, the civil administrators who acted as a buffer between locals and the occupiers in both Jersey and Guernsey “did not hesitate to protest against demands which they regarded as excessive or contrary to international law, and in many cases they succeeded in obtaining alleviation or withdrawal of demands even when demands made by the German authorities could not be regarded as unwarranted by international law. It was their duty to maintain formal and correct relations with the enemy, but the Germans were left in no doubt that they were regarded as enemies.”
Ede maintained that while mistakes were occasionally made, and some might suggest that one demand or other should have been more strongly contested, “let him reflect on the difficulties and on the immense importance of keeping executive functions in the hands of the civil administration and of avoiding the exercise of direct control by the Germans”.
But it wasn’t only the islands’ administrators that earned the Home Secretary’s praise. He also pointed out that many civilians had kept hold of radios, despite insistence from the Germans that they have handed in, so they could keep up with news from the mainland, at great danger to themselves and their families.
“The Channel Islands have every reason to be proud of themselves and we have every reason to be proud of them,” he said. “That, after a period of great suffering, there should have been a tendency in certain quarters, not fully informed of all the facts, to indulge in recriminations, is not surprising, but I hope, in the interests of the future of the Islands, nothing will be said in this House to encourage any such tendency.”
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Other events that occured in August
Parliament debates Jersey’s treatment of prisoners of war
- A Conservative MP in London was concerned that Jersey might have been treating German PoWs too leniently during the First World War.
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First direct rail services link St Helier to Corbière
- Jersey Railway was completed in stages, with services connecting La Corbiere to the capital not starting for 15 years.
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