7th JUNE 1945 – ROYAL VISIT TO THE CHANNEL ISLANDS

As we are celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee I thought it might be a good time to look back at the visit her parents made to the Channel Islands shortly after the liberation of the islands. This blog post will share some hopefully interesting facts, photographs and a short film of the visit.

On the 7th of June 1945, less than a month after the liberation, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Guernsey and Jersey. It really was a flying visit as they visited both islands in one day.

The brief nature of this trip meant that one of the feudal traditions of presenting the visiting monarch with the Golden Spurs of Guernsey was not performed. You may be wondering what this is all about. The Duke of Normandy is the title of the reigning monarch of the British Crown Dependencies of both Guernsey and Jersey. The title traces its roots back to the Duchy of Normandy (of which the Channel Islands are remnants). You can read more about this here.

The Aberdeen Press and Journal reported that Miss M. Dorey had hidden the spurs throughout the occupation of the island but that the ceremony was not to take place on this occasion.

They arrived in Jersey at 10:15 on the Fiji Class Cruiser HMS Jamaica. Jamaica was accompanied by the Destroyers HMS Caesar, HMS Faulknor, HMS Brilliant and HMS Impulsive.

HMS JAMAICA, BRITISH FIJI CLASS CRUISER. 1944 AND 1945, AT SEA. (A 30157) Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205161336

They had embarked in Portsmouth and the West Sussex Gazette reported the trip and their greeting at Portsmouth by Channel Islanders living there because of the war.

The royal couple were met in Jersey by the Bailiff, Alexander Coutanche, and Brigadier Alfred Snow, the Commander of Task Force 135. Task Force 135 was the force that liberated the islands. If you are unfamiliar with the role of the Bailiff I should point out that in this context it isn’t someone that comes to take things away if you can’t keep up the payments!

The Bailiff is as the leading citizen and representative in non-political matters, with functions embracing judicial and civic duties, and a more limited but important parliamentary role.

There are some photos of the visit to Jersey on the link here

After visiting Jersey they flew to Guernsey on a Dakota, KN386 of 24 Squadron. Some sources suggest that the aircraft was in fact KG770 however the wireless operators log was signed by the King and Queen and indicates that it was KN386 that they flew on.

Upon checking the Air 27 (Record of Events) for 24 Squadron it confirms the details of the flight for KN386 and the passengers. Extract below.

Extract from AIR 27 of 24 Squadron courtesy of the National Archives.

It would appear that KG770 was in fact a spare aircraft that also made the trip as the following is listed in respect of this trip in the AIR 27.

Extract from AIR 27 of 24 Squadron courtesy of the National Archives

As you will see from the flight times they spent just over three hours in Guernsey.

This flight is notable as it was the first time that Queen Elizabeth had flown since the coronation. They were welcomed by the Royal Artillery giving a Royal Salute using captured German guns.

KING AND QUEEN VISIT CHANNEL ISLANDS [7TH JUNE 1945] (CH 15400) Original wartime caption: Men of the Royal Artillery manning captured German guns to give a Royal Salute at Guernsey airport. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205454542
KING AND QUEEN VISIT CHANNEL ISLANDS [7TH JUNE 1945] (CH 15399) Original wartime caption: Left to right – The King; Air Commodore L. Darville, MC., Air Officer Commanding No.46 Group,RAF Transport Command; The Queen; Wing Commander Hatfield – arriving at Guernsey airport for the return journey to England. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205454541
KING AND QUEEN VISIT CHANNEL ISLANDS [7TH JUNE 1945] (CH 15402) Original wartime caption: Members of the R.A.F. watching from the flying control tower at Guernsey as the King and Queen’s aircraft takes off for England. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205454544
KING AND QUEEN VISIT CHANNEL ISLANDS [7TH JUNE 1945] (CH 15403) Original wartime caption: The Royal Standard flying above the nose of the Dakota before the take off from Guernsey. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205454545

Some accounts suggest that the intention was that they rejoin HMS Jamaica but that the King had other ideas. In any event they flew back to RAF Northolt accompanied by Spitfires.

You can watch a short film from Pathé below.

I hope you have enjoyed the blog. If you would like to receive email notifications of future blogs, you can sign up to the right of this blog post. Feel free to look around the website, where I have categorised posts to make them easier to find and other resources such as tours, films and other resources that may be of interest.

I will be adding more as time permits. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope you enjoyed it. Please share it on social media or add a comment if you did. Feedback is always appreciated.

© Nick Le Huray

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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