From L Vautier.
I WOULD like to thank Bob Le Sueur for putting the record straight regarding the Jew situation and that of the deportees.
The gentleman who spoke on Radio Jersey said that the only reason for their death was because they were Jews. No, these people died for several reasons, i.e. defying the Germans, harbouring escaped slave workers, having a radio and, in one case, trying to escape from the Island to the UK before France was liberated by the Allies.
Only one brave man escaped from Jersey in a very small boat to safety in the UK during 1941 or 1942.
I have read and listened to lots of rubbish about the Occupation by people who were not here or who were not even born at the time. Mr Le Sueur’s article has prompted me to correct a thing or two that I have kept quiet about for years that I believe to be the truth from my recollection. I was well placed to witness most things that happened. I lived in Pier Road and from early 1943 worked at Norman Ltd in Commercial Buildings.
The deportees, people from outside Jersey, must have been terrified. Hundreds of us witnessed them being herded down the Albert Pier to their unknown fate, but as time revealed they were better off than those who were left behind. They lived in camps near small, quiet towns with ordinary German people, were well treated, had regular food parcels from the Red Cross and were liberated long before the Channel Islands. However, a deserved plaque commemorates the event.
All young men wanted to escape to France, which was by then occupied by the Allies, but only those with access to one of the few family boats were able to do so. There is a plaque to those who were taken to the UK before the Germans arrived, and many I am sure helped to fight and served in other ways, but there is no plaque to those who stayed, yet each in some way did their little bit to harass and irritate the enemy, even schoolchildren.
People remained true British and cheerful despite very bad conditions. The only authentic but limited account of the Occupation I have heard is a tape called An Everyday Occupation 1940-45, spoken by people who were here and who know the true story.
The most important time and day to every person who was here on 8 May 1945 was being among the hundreds of people packed into the Royal Square (surely the whole population) when the Bailiff stood before us and announced that the war was over and Mr Churchill, the Prime Minister, was to speak, and he finished with ‘Our dear Channel Islands will be free today’.
The people went mad, some kneeling in prayer, and everybody hugging and kissing. That will be with us until we die. We have a great Liberation statue and we also have some questionable ones, a frog, a tree, etc, but the greatest statue of all which we haven’t got would be one of Winston Churchill in the exact spot where the Bailiff stood, and where our blood went cold.
Lastly, I would like to praise the people who devised the Liberation Day anniversary re-enactment. It is as accurate as is possible. We know, because we were there.
12 Amitié Court,