THE OCCUPATION STARTS – FIVE LONG YEARS UNDER THE JACKBOOT!

30 June marks the anniversary of the arrival of the Germans in 1940. This followed an air raid on 28 June which you can read about on my last blog, just scroll down or click here

A German aircraft, a Dornier Do.17 similar to the one pictured below, had landed earlier in the day but had beaten a hasty retreat when attacked by three RAF Blenheims that were in the area. The first German Oberfeldwebel Roman Gastager, a Dornier Do 17 crewman from Fernaufklärungsgruppe 3.(F)/123. This is recorded in Simon Hamon’s excellent book “Channel Islands Invaded: The German Attack on the British Isles in 1940 Told Through Eye-Witness Accounts, Newspapers Reports, Parliamentary Debates, Memoirs and Diaries” 

Image from the Sunday Mirror 29 September 1940 © Reach PLC. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.
Roman Gastager as Oberfeldwebel in late 1944 Photo from https://www.imoebi.de/Gastager.htm were you can read more about him.

Having found the island undefended they reported back to their base at Cherbourg and troops were sent over to occupy Guernsey. The occupation began when German troops arrived from Cherbourg on 30th June 1940 aboard JU 52 transports.

Jersey was occupied one day later on 1 July 1940.

Below are a selection of photographs of their arrival and some further information and reading on the subject.

Illustrated London News – Saturday 10 August 1940 © Reach PLC. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.
Castle Cornet and St Peter Port seen from a German aircraft.
Photograph is on display at the German Occupation Museum. These are men of the 396th Infantry Regiment who arrived from Cherbourg.
Photograph from Das Bundesarchiv more troops at Guernsey Airport.
The Germans taking down the flag at Guernsey Airport. Photograph from Das Bundesarchiv.
Commandeered Guernsey truck being used to refuel a ME 109 0f KG53 Photograph from Das Bundesarchiv
Photograph from Das Bundesarchiv
Photograph from Das Bundesarchiv
Messerschmitt-Bf-109E3-4.JG53-La-Villiaze-Guernsey-1940

If the Airport on the current site hadn’t been completed in 1939 then they may have had a slightly tougher time in landing as the previous aerodrome was at L’Eree on the coast and is a wetland that is now a nature reserve. L’Eree had a runway of 450 yards and a very short lived operational life.

A modern view of the original aerodrome at L’Eree

Luckily for the Germans the airport had been moved to the current site and had been opened in May 1939. It had four grass runways, night landing facilities and direction finding equipment. Taken over by the RAF in September 1939 and vacated by them in June 1940 they took the precaution of sabotaging the equipment before they left. I wrote about the experiences of some RAF Pilots in June 1940 who were based in Guernsey. You can read about it at
A TALE OF TWO PILOTS, HURRICANE GIRLS & A FRENCHMAN!

Soon after their arrival orders were issued to islanders with the threat of any attempt to cause trouble would lead to St Peter Port being bombed.

Orders of the Commandant

In subsequent months there followed Junkers 52 troop carriers, Dornier DO 17 bombers, Heinkel He 111 bombers, Henschel Hs 126 reconnaissance aircraft, ME109 fighters and Junkers Ju 87 dive bombers.

Display at the German Occupation Museum about the arrival of the Germans and items collected by locals.

If you want to find out more about the arrival of the Germans you can find a summary here

In my blog about the life of a doctor in Guernsey he talks about the arrival of the Germans. You can read it here.

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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.

Also happy to be contacted with questions about the war in the Channel Islands, media appearances, podcasts etc.

© Nick Le Huray

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