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What was the "Occupation" and why is "Liberation Day" celebrated in the Channel Islands?


Liberation Day

An American Calender of mine, alongside 9th May, puts "Jersey Thanksgiving Day", and notes that "On this day, the Channel Islands commorate their liberation from Nazi occupation with football matches between Jersey and Guernsey".

To set the record straight about what happens, and what the day is called, on this page is a brief note on what Liberation day is and when and why it is celebrated in the Channel Islands.

Guernsey - 9th May
Jersey - 9th May
Sark - 10th May


The German Occupation

Liberation Day

The Occupation Tapestry

Jersey Occupation - TimeLine

Further information

The German Occupation


During the Second World War, the Channel Islands were declared a demilitarised zone, and were occupied by the German forces for five years, from 1940 to 1945.

In this period of time, know to the Islanders as simply "The Occupation", Reichmarks were issued (in place of Sterling), curfews were imposed, radios confiscated and forbidden, and all the civilian population issued with identity cards. For an example of an identity card, click here.

After the D-Day landings, the Channel Islands were left in German hands while the Allies pushed forward to Germany, and it was only the advent of the Red Cross ship Vega which brought much needed relief from starvation conditions.

The Channel Islands had been heavily fortified by the Germans, and with approximately one German to every five civilians, and the possibility of using the civilian population as hostages, it was probably deemed prudent to leave the Channel Islands alone until the German High Command was defeated.

My mother was a young girl at the time. She remembers playing on a swing at the park when she caught her first sight of the Germans. Her elder sister, who was pushing her, promptly ran away and left her swinging!

She also told me of how she was walking on the pavement when she met a German soldier coming the other way. She refused to move off the pavement, and he lifted her up, swung round, put her down, and carried on walking.

Food was scarce during the Occupation, but she remembers they always had a great treat once a year - a tin of fruit for the family - at Christmas. Every Christmas, her mother would bring out a tin, and say, every time, that this was the last one!

The Occupation only came to an end with the ceasefire and unconditional surrender of Germany, and because it was celebrated upon the actual German surrender in the Islands, it is celebrated at different dates in Jersey, Guernsey and Sark.

Liberation Day


My mother, then Miss Ann Shepard, was a young girl nearly at her tenth birthday when the Occupation ended, and she remembers the excitement at the harbour that day, when the British troops landed, and were cheered; she remembers the soldiers handing out sweets - a treat which she had not known for five years! For more of her memories on what it was like to grow up as a young child under German rule, click here.

The Occupation Tapestry In 1988 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Jersey, Wayne Audrain designed the panels for the Occupation Tapestry. Over 300 Islanders worked for 30,000 hours to produce the tapestry, which is made up of 7,500,000 stitches. It is divided into 12 panels, one for each parish, and each depicts a theme from the five-year German Occupation.


 Jersey Occupation - TimeLine

For further information:


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