Guernsey Underground News Service

There were many acts of resistance during the occupation of the Channel Islands. Not armed resistance, that was just not possible as the Islands were too small for any opposition group to be able to evade capture. Indeed most men of military age had left the Islands to join the British forces in their battles across Europe and the empire.

Equally, at the height of the German garrison numbers, there was one German for every three Islanders, and many of those soldiers were billeted in local households.

Following the confiscation of all radios in 1942, the Islanders were of course desperate for news from the BBC rather than the German-controlled local newspapers. However, if they had an illicit radio and were caught, the penalty ranged from a fine of 30,000 Reichsmarks to six months in prison or indeed deportation to a prison/concentration camp in Europe.

The Guernsey Underground News Service, GUNS for short, fulfilled this desire for information for those that did not have access to crystal radios, or we able to dodge the risks associated with them.

GUNS also had the ability to be passed covertly amongst islanders, however that carried its own risks.

GUNS

This blog post is intended to point the reader in the direction of the many excellent articles about GUNS and everything leading up to its last issue on 11th February 1944. Oh, and if you are in the Independent Company I will be mentioning a book that may be of interest to add to your pile of shame!

The people who were behind GUNS were ultimately betrayed and paid the price, one of them Joseph Gillingham made the ultimate sacrifice, as he died in prison.

The people that were involved are listed below and if you click the links on their names it will take you to detailed accounts of their activities, interviews and videos on the Frank Falla Archive website.

Joseph Gillingham & Henrietta Gillingham
Charles Machon
Frank Falla
Ernest Legg
Cecil Duquemin

Henrietta Gillingham doesn’t have her own entry on the Frank Falla Archive website as her husband Joseph and brother Ernest Legg covered for her and she was not arrested.

Links to other articles on the subject are below. You may also be interested in Frank Falla’s memoirs which allude to the fact that he knew who betrayed them.

Below is a video of Dr Gilly Carr reading a letter from Frank.

There was at least one other news sheet that was in circulation during the occupation; Guernsey Active Secret Press and there is an excellent blog about it here which is compiled by a local guide. Well worth a read.

GASP seems less well known, but just as significant because they weren’t caught by the Germans. As a result of being caught, GUNS always seems to grab the headlines.

I hope you have enjoyed this post. If you did please consider following the blog on Twitter here or add yourself to the followers on the right-hand side of the blog to get email alerts for new posts. Always happy to receive comments, questions and contributions if you have something you would like to share. Thanks for reading.

The last issue of GUNS was distributed
GUNS writer Joseph John Gillingham was deported
Guernsey’s Occupation : Resistance & Punishment – Frank Falla’s Story


Author: Nick Le Huray 🇬🇬

Guernsey based history geek. Interested in the Occupation of the Channel Islands and wider Second World War history.

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