Aviva Directory » Local & Global » Europe » Channel Islands

The Channel Islands are an archipelago in the English Channel in Europe. Situated off the coast of Normandy, the term "Channel Islands" was first used in 1830, probably by the Royal Navy.

The Bailiwick of Jersey, a Crown dependency, is made up of the largest island, Jersey, as well as uninhabited islands, rocks, and reefs.

The Bailiwick of Guernsey, a Crown dependency, consists of numerous islands in the English Channel. There are three different sub-jurisdictions in this bailiwick: Guernsey, Sark and Alderney as well as smaller islands. Each of the sub-jurisdictions has its own legislature.

A Bailiwick is an area of jurisdiction of a bailiff who is the first civil officer in the bailiwick. His duties include officiating as the judge in the royal court and representing the Crown during civic events and occasions. The bailiff of the Channel Islands bailiwicks must be a qualified attorney.

Neither of these bailiwicks is part of the United Kingdom. They are self-governing possessions of the Crown and have been administered separately since the late 1200s. They are not sovereign states but are considered "territories for which the United Kingdom is responsible." They are not members of the Commonwealth of Nations nor of the European Union. The United Kingdom has the ultimate authority to pass legislation which affects the islands while the islands have their own legislative assemblies and the power to legislate local issues.

Two major islands are Jersey and Guernsey which make up 92% of the land and 99% of the population of the Channel Islands. The other permanently inhabited islands are Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou, and Brecqhou. Additionally, there are several uninhabited islets.

The Channel Islands were owned by the Duchy of Normandy and became a possession of the English Crown in 1066 when William the Conqueror became the King of England. In 1204, England lost the mainland of Normandy but the islands remained with the Crown, and were soon divvied up into the two bailiwicks. Since the beginning, the two bailiwicks have maintained entirely separate identities, laws, and media except for the television station which they share, called Channel TV.

During World War II, the Channel Islands were the only British territory to be occupied by Germany. Because of the fact that the islands were just 20 miles fro the French coast, Hitler thought that this would be a good place to stage for an invasion of France. Winston Churchill thought there was nothing there which could be of strategic interest to England, and with that, Britain demilitarized them and left the islands undefended.

In June 1940, Germany invaded France. One-third of the population, approximately 30,000 people, were evacuated. The other two-thirds thought they would stay and wait the unpleasantness out. On June 28, the Luftwaffe, not realizing that the Channel Islands were undefended, bombed both Jersey and Guernsey. They killed 44 people and two days later, they took control of the airfield on Guernsey. The next day, German soldiers arrived and raised the German flag.

On July 1, 1940, Jersey surrendered and occupying troops arrived. In order to show that they were willing to comply with the occupying army, residents had to fly white flats at their homes. German officers on Sark made assurances that there was nothing to fear before sending ten soldiers on July 4. Neither Herm nor Alderney were physically occupied.

The Germans imposed a curfew between 11:00 pm and 5:00 am, and they issued identification cards which were to be carried at all times. Alcohol sales were banned. All British-born residents were deported to Germany, and a register of all Jewish people was established, and some Jews were immediately sent to concentration camps. Anyone caught trying toThe German military was in charge of who could drive cars and where as well as all food grown or caught by the citizenry. With slave labor, they built four concentration camps on Alderney.

There was no coordinated resistance movement on the islands, there were "V for Victory" signs sprouting all over the islands. guns and ammunition were stolen from the Germans, and underground newsletters were printed. Residents fed slave laborers.

Meanwhile, on Jersey, letters from informers which were mailed to the Commandant were intercepted by the post office and shredded, but not before the collaborators' names were noted for after the liberation.

D-Day marked the beginning of the end of the Nazi regime on the islands, but in the days immediately following the Allied landings were difficult as food and other provisions which the German soldiers controlled dried up. The islanders began to starve and were only saved when the Home Office got the Germans to allow the Red Cross aboard the SS Vega to deliver food. The Red Cross continued to bring food to the islands even after the liberation of the islands in May of 1945.

Categories

Bailiwick of Guernsey

Bailiwick of Jersey

 

 

Recommended Resources


Search for Channel Islands on Google, Bing, or Yahoo!