Jersey: Occupation Liberation Celebration

Before my recent and first-ever visit to the beautiful island of Jersey, I knew of its famous Jersey cows,  delicious Jersey Royal new potatoes, and stunning coastline. I also knew something of its occupation under Nazi Germany in WWII, but, and to my shame, I knew very little of its impact on the people of Jersey.  All that was about to change.

As I crossed the English Channel by Ferry with my mother on May 7th for our much-anticipated getaway, as soon as I caught sight of the delightful view from our hotel room some seven hours later, I knew we were in for a treat.

The next day – after taking in the surprising results of the General Election back home – we set about exploring.  And learning.

Although closest to France, Jersey has been part of the British Isles ever since William of Normandy’s invasion in 1066 ~

Courtesy Jersey War Tunnels

Courtesy Jersey War Tunnels

Some 100  miles south of British mainland and only a mere 14 miles from the Bay of St Malo in  France, Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands despite its 14km by 8km (9 miles by 5 miles) size.

It is home to a varied landscape of lush valleys and fields inland, and unspoilt coastline of golden beaches, rocky coves and hidden bays, all with stunning views of the Atlantic.

Jersey boasts a 450 mile roadway made up of fast routes and rural lanes, so that whether driving, walking, cycling or even horse riding, anyone can explore this beautiful island to their heart’s content.

Take a drive - or walk, or bike or horse ride - with me along this delightful island of Jersey (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Take a drive – or walk, or bike or horse ride – with me along this delightful island of Jersey
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Corbiere Lighthouse shines its beacon of light for many a passing ship to warn of strong tidal waters and treacherous, submerged rock formations ~

Corbiere Lighthouse, Jersey (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Corbiere Lighthouse, Jersey
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Everywhere, the views are stunning ~

Rocque Point Jersey (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Rocque Point Jersey
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

(Rocque Point Lookout, St Brelade’s Bay & Elizabeth Castle)

Yes, Jersey is a little slice of heaven on earth, but it also holds a long, complex history and a dark past.

On 28th June, 1940, the Germans bombed Jersey killing 10 islanders, and by 1st July, the entire island had no choice but to surrender.  Invading German soldiers built lookouts, bunkers and fortresses to protect the island from British attack, but the attack never came as the war effort focused elsewhere.

No one could have imagined then that the German occupation of Jersey would last five years.

It was while walking through the Jersey War Tunnels that the full extent of the impact of those long years of occupation really struck me.  Also just how close Nazi Germany came to invading British mainland shores.

Spending a good two hours walking through the tunnels, which even on a hot day feels chilly inside those caves, takes you through a timeline from the day the Germans first arrived in Jersey to the time they left.

Throughout the Tunnels, stories of the very human side of war speak through written nuggets of excerpts from diary entries and letters, bringing home the deeply personal stories of everyday people, from both the islanders’ and the German soldiers’ points of view.  Each story is profoundly moving, telling stories of their reality as it was in those war years.

For the Germans, it occurred to me that they probably couldn’t belive that they had been given such an prime posting, and then I read this:

Courtesy Jersey War Tunnels

Obviously, the islanders viewed the Nazi’s parading throughout their country as a very different thing altogether: all received notice to register for evacuation, with twenty-four hours to do so.

One day, living, eating, spending time with your family, and the next, your life is turned upside down, everything lost for good Courtesy Jersey War Tunnels

One day, living, eating, spending time with your family, and the next, your life turned upside down, everything lost for good
Photo Sherri Matthews, Courtesy Jersey War Tunnels

Nearly 50% of the islanders registered to evacuate, but some, once arriving at the quay and seeing so many people crammed in the boats like sardines, changed their minds and returned home.  Shockingly, some did so only to discover that looting had already taken place, their homes cleaned out, and for some, even the carpets removed.

Such is just one of the many devastating repercussions of war.

For those who travelled onward by passenger ship, mostly to Weymouth, their lives changed forever.  For those who stayed, an order from German headquarters arrived stating that those of Jewish origin, and all not born on the island, to be rounded up and deported to Germany, some to concentration camps.  Many did not return.

While the Germans at first felt like tourists in Jersey, bitterness, accusations, whisperings of betrayals and resentments surfaced, tearing local people and their families apart as some bartered for bigger rations and worse, befriended some of the German soldiers.

The Nazi’s brought in slave workers from Eastern Europe to work on the tunnels, building a safe hospital, amongst other things, for German soldiers.  The slaves worked under harsh conditions to say the least, but the tunnels were never finished.

Execution was the punishment for crimes such as trying to escape, keeping crystal radios after the wireless radio ban, and general acts of disobedience, as in the case of poor Louis Berrier, who released a pigeon with a message for England:

Courtesy Jersey War Tunnels

Courtesy Jersey War Tunnels

One sad story particularly struck me of a young woman who fell in love with a handsome German solider which, of course, was an absolute no-no.  They made plans to escape, the soldier wanting to desert, but they were found out.

The Bailiff running the island (who had the near-impossible task of keeping relations between the islanders and the soldiers as amicable and as peaceful as possible, as per his instructions from the British Government), was able to intercede successfully for the young woman’s life, but not for that of the soldier, who was duly shot for desertion.

Another story was of a little girl (now a woman in her late 70s and still living on the island) given a bag of sweets by a German soldier, who told her he missed his little girl back home.  In such harsh times of severe rationing and going without, she was, of course, absolutely delighted, but her mother, disgusted that her daughter should receive anything from a German, threw the sweets away.

The little girl could never understand her mother’s actions and hatred of the ‘nice’ German soldier.

Then, at last, on 9th May, 1945, came Liberation Day.

By that time, food supplies were cut off and all, including the Germans, were near-starving.  At last the British Red Cross delivered food parcels containing items such as tea, coffee and sugar, the likes of which the islanders hadn’t tasted in years.

The Germans were given strict instructions not to touch the food parcels, and they had no choice but to eat limpets off the seashore and shoot seagulls and cats for food to prevent starvation.

The British landed on 9th May, 1945; the very first act by two Naval Officers was to rip down the swastika flag that had hung from the Pomme D’Or Hotel for five long years, replacing it with the Union Jack to the deafening cries of the jubilant crowds below.

And so it was that on 9th May this year of 2015, celebrating the 70th anniversary of Liberation Day as part of VE Day celebrations held across Europe, my mother and I watched enthralled, as the day’s reenactments took place.

The Pomme D’Or Hotel in St Helier as it was in 1945,  appears in a photo superimposed on a huge canvas draped across the original hotel (left photo below), the newer hotel standing next door (right photo).

On the balcony this May 9th,  stood military personnel wearing replica uniforms of the day, waving to the crowds just as they would have exactly seventy years before.  And now as then, the crowds cried out in joyous delight.

A sculpture stands in Liberation Square in St Helier’s to mark this occasion, and some ‘veteran’ wartime officials also turned out for the day’s festivities (including a Captain Mainwaring look-alike I thought…) ~

A parade of vintage cars and military vehicles, marching bands and troops left the Square which we followed all the way to People’s Park, where the Countess of Wessex took part in prayers and a ceremony to mark this special Liberation Day ~

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The ceremonies ended with the raising of the Jersey Flag.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t brilliant but at least the rain held off – just ~

Jersey Flag flys high to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Liberation Day (c) Sherri Matthews 2015 (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Jersey Flag flies high to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Liberation Day
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Street parties, vintage teas, dancing and celebrations into the night recreated the thrilling atmosphere as it must have been in 1945, ending with a huge firework’s display from Elizabeth Castle, as seen from our hotel room (a bonus we hadn’t planned on) ~

Fireworks from Elizabeth Castle (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Fireworks from Elizabeth Castle
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Two things stayed with me: on the day that the German soldiers were at last shipped out of Jersey, the crowds fell silent as they stood on the quay and watched them leave, or as better described below (which I hope isn’t too small to read):

Jersey May 2015 (207)

Courtesy Jersey War Tunnels

And the second was this: the footprint of a jackboot left in what was once setting cement – right at the bottom of an escape tunnel discovered deep inside the bowels of the War Tunnels.   There is only one footprint, and it’s facing towards the escape route.  Did the wearer escape, I wonder?  And if so, what happened to him?  One of life’s mysteries, but one from which so many stories could be told.

Jack Boot - Courtesy of Jersey War Tunnels

Jackboot footprint – Courtesy Jersey War Tunnels

Jersey is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited, and the people so welcoming, friendly and charming.  They even have their own ale:

Liberation Ale (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

The deprivation and war-time suffering of people living under occupation by an invading force can never be underestimated; it is impossible for those of us who have never experienced it to truly understand the true impact of such a life.

But as long as future generations keep the message of liberation and freedom alive in their hearts, as do the people of Jersey, the hope remains of lessons learned and history no longer repeated. It was an honour and a privilege to have visited them and their home during such a momentous and historical time of celebration.  Thank you so much, dear Jersey.

I leave you with these poignant words:

Jersey May 2015 (149)

Courtesy Jersey War Tunnels

Thank you for sharing the view with me today and may your day be filled with
many minutes of happiness.

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri has been writing full time since 2011. Currently working on her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress', she has been published in a variety of national magazines, websites and three anthologies. Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief blogging, gardening, walking by the sea and snapping endless photographs. Her garden robin muse vists regularly.
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127 Responses to Jersey: Occupation Liberation Celebration

  1. Wow! This was impressive! Thank you for sharing all this information about Jersey. I learned all that I had wondered about! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, I had to share, as I’m still buzzing from the excitement and incredibly humbling celebrations 🙂 Thank you so much for the read & your lovely comment! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jeanne229 says:

    Wonderful post Sherri! Superb account of a little-known episode of WWII. I very much enjoyed it, and appreciated the many photographs. That you were able to share the experience with your mother must have added to the pleasure of it and made it all the more meaningful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      It was so wonderful to share my time in Jersey with my mother, and I’m thrilled that you enjoyed this post, thank you so much Jeanne for your lovely comment. It’s great isn’t it when something moves us to the point of wanting to share the experience with others, and what a wonderful vehicle blogging is for doing just that 🙂

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  3. This was wonderful Sherri, you really brought this to life – both the place, the scenery, the atmosphere and the history. Those little touches like the boot print and the anecdotes made this a really poignant and atmospheric post – and what a wonderful time to be in Jersey to share in the celebrations 🙂

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    • Sherri says:

      I’m really glad to know this, thank you greatly Andrea. I wanted so much to convey my personal feelings about Jersey itself as well as the wonderful Liberation Day celebrations so your lovely comment makes my day 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for such an interesting insight into Jersey during the war years. Your photos are great too! Glad you enjoyed your trip – I must go there one day!

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  5. Beautifully told Sherri! I have never been to Jersey, but have read many books set in those areas of wartime occupation – Jersey/Guernsey and the stories made a deep impact on me. How amazing that the people still celebrate with so much activity and joy all these years later – the reality of the past situation must be kept alive through memories and stories with a direct generational link. You are right, those of us who have never suffered invasion cannot know what it is like!

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    • Sherri says:

      I want to read so much about Jersey and the occupation years now too Pauline. I was shocked at my lack of knowledge and understanding of the impact those war years had on the Jersey people. And you hit the nail on the head, it was exactly their joy and passion that astounded my mother and I, such wonderfully cheery, kind and friendly folk. The generational links are very strong there, a sense of community I have never found anywhere else. I can see why people go there and don’t want to leave! Thank you so much as always for your lovely comment Pauline, wonderful sharing isn’t it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow. Sherri. This is riveting. You sure have done your homework. Fact filled, intriguing post. Thank you for all these pictures. I need to read this again to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Thanks for sharing. Sounds you and your mother had n amazing time. ❤ ❤ ❤

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    • Sherri says:

      Phew! I wanted to share so much more, my head is still swimming with all I learnt in Jersey, but this post would have gone on forever 😀 Thanks so much Tess, loved that you enjoyed it so much, always a pleasure 🙂 ❤ ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • You sure packed in great information I wouldn’t have come across anytime soon. Nice you and your mom could make this trip together. Had you been planning it especially for the anniversary?

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      • Sherri says:

        Yes, Mum used to visit the Channel Islands a lot many years ago for her job and was always told ‘You must come back for the Liberation Day celebrations’, so it was something she had always had in mind and the credit goes to her for organising our trip. Plus, we haven’t gone away just the two of us for many years so it worked out just right. I knew the celebrations would be good, but had no idea of the depth of meaning it would have for the islanders, way more than just the waving of a few flags 🙂

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  7. kaypickard says:

    It must have been a very humbling experience to have been there to celebrate Jerseys VE Day celebrations, I too, have been to the Jersey war tunnels and had no idea about what they went through in the Second World War. It was extremely informative and educational and very cold! We loved Jersey – what a jem of an island and so easy to get around and many places to visit. The Gerald Durrell wildlife centre is well worth a visit, as is Elizabeth castle (they do a very realistic cannon display) and Gorey Castle, St Ouens bay (Big Vernes is a well kept secret) and so many more places.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      It was very humbling indeed Kay. Yes, the Jersey War Tunnels tell the story of war time Jersey so amazingly well don’t they? And yes, it is very cold in there! The only frustration that my mother and I had was that we weren’t staying longer, as there is still so much more of the island we wanted to explore. It might be small, but it has so much to offer, across the board. We hoped to go to the Gerald Durrell centre and we did walk to Elizabeth Castle, getting back just in time before the tide came in, but it was closed the day we went unfortunately. Still, the walk was great fun. The other places you mention are on the list for our next visit (and thanks for the info re Big Vernes). How wonderful that you have been able to visit all these fantastic places, thank you so much for sharing them with me and for your lovely comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. That is a pretty amazing place, Sherri. So glad you were able to visit it with your family. The pictures are wonderful, too. So…did you try the “Liberation Ale?”

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    • Sherri says:

      Thanks so much Patsy, and yes, a truly beautiful island. Haha…no, I’m not an ale drinker, but I did have a nice glass of wine while we waited for the parade to start 😀

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  9. jennypellett says:

    Excellent post Sherri. It has everything – history, travel, personal stories, your opinion of the place – this is great stuff … could you place it somewhere … the tourist board or a Jersey magazine, maybe? Really very interesting about the German tunnels and the occupation. I have never been to the Channel Islands and my knowledge of their history is patchy. I wonder – have you read the delightful book about the occupation – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Schaeffer? I’m sure you (and your Mum) would love it.
    Lovely to see you back blogging – what a great post to get you back into the swing – well done indeed, my friend xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh Jenny, how lovely of you to say, gosh, I’m blushing now!! It’s such a coincidence that you mention this book, as our neighbours who have been to the Channel Islands several times just told me about it, so yes, I can’t wait to read it! My mum used to go to the islands back when she worked for the RNLI, but had never had the opportunity to do the tourist bit, so it was such a thrill to share in the Liberation Day celebrations with her, something she had been told about many years before. I think she has read the book, but probably would love to read it again! Thank you for your lovely welcome back…and I don’t what you did, but amazingly, today I noticed when I shared this over on my Facebook page (linked to this blog, not my personal account) that Jersey War Tunnels and also Jersey Tourist Board had shared it on their web sites!! I’m gobsmacked, honestly. Thank you so much my friend, I’m thrilled you enjoyed this little tour of Jersey 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Amy says:

    You have provided significant history and info here, Sherri. Thank you for sharing. I’m in awe with your photos!

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  11. Well, this explains where you’ve been, Sherri. You’ve been composing this magnificent post. I had a difficult time moving beyond the photos of the coast highway and the Corbiere Lighthouse…stunning! Thanks for the lovely email…it made my day. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Ha, well, yes, I wanted to get this out, bursting to as you know!! I knew you would enjoy the photo of Corbiere Lighthouse Jill. Mum took us there, having seen it before during her many visits to the islands many years ago, and she was amazed by my reaction. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite so rugggedly beautiful. And while standing there, I thought of you and your story and all that has happened to you since and now… 🙂 Ahh…thanks so much Jill, will be in touch! 🙂 xoxo

      Like

  12. Heyjude says:

    Excellent Sherri, I knew little of the occupation but found Jersey to be an extraordinarily friendly place when I was there for work many years ago. The people work hard and play hard. A lovely island.

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    • Sherri says:

      Thanks so much Jude 🙂 My mother used to visit the islands a lot for her job too and would definitely agree with your summary! Wonderful people, wonderful island. And guess what? I have some lovely bench photos for you, coming up, but wanted to keep it as a separate post 😉 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Charli Mills says:

    What a fascinating and rich post, Sherri! I can understand how Jersey captivated you, and what a journey you had! As silly as it sounds, I never new that’s where Jersey cows come from. I thought it was some county or providence in Great Britain; I didn’t realize it was the channel island. My husband and his family raised Jerseys! Best buttercream ever! Oh, but to be occupied for five years, such a long time. And the stories — the young lovers and the little girl offered sweets by a German soldier missing his own children. Governments go to war; people suffer through them. The liberation parade was spectacular. All those vehicles! Thank you for sharing your trip!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      There was so much to learn about Jersey (and of course the other islands too) and I think that so often we hear of things like ‘Jersey Cows’ and don’t necessarily make that connection. Unfortuntely, I wasn’t able to snap any photos of these beautiful creatures, being too far away while driving through some of the more narrow lanes and couldn’t stop. Plus, we ran out of time :/ But the perfect excuse to return! And how amazing about Todd’s family and his connection with Jerseys! The milk and cream and butter is so good isn’t it? We had plenty of that over there 😉 I’m thrilled to share my trip with you Charli, thank you so much for your lovely comment, delighted you enjoyed it 🙂

      Like

  14. Sherri, this is a superb post. Every paragraph, every picture led me forward, and then the final poignant words from the Jersey War Tunnel, all combined to make this memorable. I’m so glad you and your mother had beautiful views and a good time together.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much Marylin, I loved sharing my experiences in Jersey with you, thrilled you enjoyed them too 🙂 And the Jersey War Tunnels were absolutely fascinating, totally absorbing…

      Like

  15. Imelda says:

    War is terrible beyond words and I pray that none of us will ever have to go through it. I cannot grasp the thought of one race thinking itself so superior over another one that it could calmly order the extermination of the other. I always shudder when I think about that. May that thought never triumph ever again.

    This is a lovely and well-thought out post, Sherri. Thank you for the history tour.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Absolutely Imelda, war is a terrible thing indeed and it is vital that we remember this for generations to come. Thank you so much for your heartfelt and emotive comment, sharing your heart with me and for reading. Always a pleasure to share my heart with you and a little of what captured me about beautiful Jersey and its wonderful forgiving people 🙂

      Like

  16. Oh Sherri, I wish I’d known you were coming to Jersey, we could have met up! The War Tunnels are full of information about the occupation which is so poignant. Have you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? Although set on our sister isle a lot of the book reflects the same incidents you found out about at the War Tunnels. Glad you had a good trip, those fireworks were spectacular weren’t they?

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    • Sherri says:

      Oh that would have been so wonderful! Next time, I will definitely let you know! Walking through the War Tunnels totally absorbed me, I felt myself fit to burst to share here all I learnt, but I was worried I might not do it justice, so hoping to convey the very deep respect and admiration I have for the Jersey people and all that they suffered during those long years of occupation. I came away a changed person and I don’t think that has ever happened before, that’s how profoundly it affected me. It was wonderful to share it with my mother too, as she was 3 when war broke out in England and 9 when it ended, so she remembers well having to run down to the air raid shelter at the end of her garden. Several here have recommended this very book to me and now I am desperate to read it! And yes, those fireworks truly were amazing. How incredible to think that we were both watching them, and connecting here in blogland! So great to focus on the good things of life. Thank you so much Cleopatra for your lovely comment 🙂

      Like

  17. A lovely walk you have taken us on today Sherri. I have put it on my list of places to visit. Like another couple of commenters I also highly recommend if you haven’t read it the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. You would love it as it deals with the time that you are talking about during the occupation. Thank you for all those wonderful photos of the day. It really made it come alive. Glad to see you back. ❤ 🙂

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    • Sherri says:

      You would absolutely adore Jersey Irene, but until then, I loved sharing this walk with you and experiencing all I did with you. And yes, several have indeed recommended this book so now I can’t wait to read it! Thrilled you enjoyed this visit, thank you so much for your lovely welcome back (and let’s hope this time I stay back, ha!) and comment 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Life will always have a habit of getting in the way but a little bit of time here and there will see your book finally finished. 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sherri says:

        Ahh, thank you Irene for your concern, and here I am so late in replying. A three day weekend here just finished so busy with all those garden chores 😉 Hope you had a lovely weekend too. Things are okay, but I do get frustrated at what I percieve as my horribly slow progress (and I hardly dare say it, but ever since I’ve had my ‘new’ laptop since January, I have had nothing but problems with it…so will have to get it wiped and that means rebooting everything, again 😦 ) Ha, bet you’re sorry you asked now!! So you can see why your wise and calming words meant so much to me…and you are right, I am really trying not to stress over those things that can wait. I came up with a new mantra: ‘The only pace I can go is the one I can manage’ which I wrote in a comment to lovely Lemon Shark Sarah…and that’s what I’m sticking to. Now time for a walk don’t you think my friend? 🙂 ❤

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      • Sherri, that really is the only pace we can go. The one we can manage. I love that mantra.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. reocochran says:

    This was fascinating, Sherri. I did not know much of this areas’ history. The tunnels, the trials and tribulations of war occupation came to life in the way you shared your visit there. It was indeed cause to celebrate once liberation time came for these people!

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    • Sherri says:

      I am delighted you enjoyed learning more about Jersey and its years of occupation, thank you so much for your lovely comment Robin. I love being able to visit a new place, learning all about its history too, and then sharing what I can here, what an honour to do so 🙂 And yes, Liberation Day was spectacular, and so emotional for the islanders.

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  19. Rachel M says:

    What a great place and fascinating history. I’ll have to add this to my list of places to visit now 🙂

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    • Sherri says:

      You simply must go Rachel, you and your family will love it there. I want to go back so much now and see the other islands too! Love your new pic BTW 🙂

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  20. Norah says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, and the story of occupation and liberation. I am reminded of a delightful book I read a few years ago: The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society which is told in a series of letters and contains stories and photos similar to those you have shared.
    The view from your hotel window is magnificent. Is is wonderful to have a view when staying away from home. Although one may not spend a lot of time in the room, it is always good to have a view to appreciate and marvel at when one is there.
    Thank you for the final quote you shared and the generosity of your wishes. I wish them right back to you. I’m pleased to accompany you on your journey. Thank you for welcoming me aboard. 🙂

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    • Sherri says:

      Several have recommended this very book Norah, and I am so looking forward to reading it. I am obsessed with Jersey now and want to read all I can about it 🙂 I was not expecting to come out of those War Tunnels so changed, having grasped only a tiny bit of what it must have been like to have lived under occupation for so long. I’m so glad to be able to share my thoughts here too, such a blessing. And yes, we felt it would be worth it for the view for our 5 days’ stay, so often I feel disappointed with the view. It certainly did make a wondeful difference! Ahh Norah, thank you so much for sending those lovely wishes right back, and also for joining me on this journey. Always such a pleasure sharing with you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:

        I’m sure you will enjoy the book when you get to read it Sherri. I think our generation (though we are probably in slightly different ones) is fortunate to have lived in fairly peaceful times, sandwiched between the horrors of the past and future (as it is portrayed). We had our fears too, which seemed real, but we were fortunate that many weren’t realized at the time.
        I look forward to joining you on your next journey! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Love that Norah…and so true and wonderful about blogging! I hope you had a wonderful weekend, I have been absent once again, hoping now at last it’s back to business *ever the optimist* 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Gwen Stephens says:

    Fascinating history lesson and beautiful photos. It’s amazing, the German occupation reached far and wide.

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    • Sherri says:

      Jersey is a truly fascinating place Gwen, it really hit me how close Nazi Germany came to invading Britain. Blood curdling. Whenever I think of the Battle of Britain now, the legacy of which of course I grew up with, something ‘always there’, I tear up with a totally renewed respect and gratefulness in my heart. What it must have been like for those living under occupation, and how honoured we are to be able to still learn about such things so that we will always remember. Thank you so much for your comment Gwen.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. I lived through the Occupation as a young school boy and the Weighbridge/Liberation Square and Pomme d’Or on 9 th May 1945 has been a part of my life ever since.Now in my mid eighties in Lancashire,I look forward to my annual Jersey visit to my wife’s grave at St Saviour’s Thank you Sherri for this post

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Dear Robert, I can’t express adequately how much your words have moved me. I am deeply humbled that you read my post and thanked me for it, when it is I who should be thanking you for sharing your profoundly personal story with me. Your comment on my blog makes my writing journey worth all the angst. I wonder if you have written about your experiences? What an incredible story you have to tell. I for one would be honoured to read your words. Thank you so much for taking the time to write.

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  23. What a great ride back into history. It really makes a person stop and think. It also makes me wonder how anyone survives such a terrible thing and if it were to happen to me, would I? During war, terrible things are committed on both sides, and both sides suffer. Sometimes it’s to easy for those of us who haven’t had to live it, to forget that. I loved the words you left for us, thank you.

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    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much for your heartfelt and passionate comment Donna. What I loved about the War Tunnels was that the views of both the islanders and the German soldiers were presented: as you say, both sides suffer and both sides have their own personal stories. And indeed, it was those very human stories that grabbed me the most and which I so hoped to share here, and humbled to do so…

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  24. I think you just might have a second calling as a travel reviewer Sherri! You’ve got me wanting to book my next trip to Jersey right now. What an absolutely fascinating history the island has. Your description does a really wonderful job of focusing on the human side of war which I feel we too often forget. I also have to say that I absolutely love that quote at the end of your story. It’s always hard to step back from the moment when you’re upset to put everything in perspective… but why waste any time being angry?!

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    • Sherri says:

      Oh Heather, you have made me smile today 🙂 I’m not so sure, but I do enjoy sharing my travel experiences here, I admit! Actually, I have to say, I was utterly gobsmacked to find out yesterday that this post was shared by the Jersey War Tunnels and Jersey Tourist Board’s web sites from my Facebook Page (linked to this blog, not my personal FB). I honestly didn’t feel worthy knowing how much Liberation Day means to the Jersey islanders, so I was amazed by all the shares. Didn’t expect that for one minute…
      I do hope you get to visit Jersey one day, you will find it as fascinating and as beautiful as I did, I just know it 🙂 There is still so much left to explore, I can’t wait to go back and also with hubby who also has never visited. Thank you so much for your lovely comment Heather, I so much wanted to convey the personal, human side of the stories that took hold of my heart, deeply humbled by them all. And yes, I was grabbed by the quote at the end too…really sums up life doesn’t it?

      Like

  25. Reblogged this on Donna Jean McDunn and commented:
    I decided to share this because it’s a little slice of history. Many of us living today are to young to remember this war, including me and I’m pretty old. Read to the bottom of the post to be sure and read the words of love life and hope.

    Like

  26. Oh, Sherri, I forgot to mention, I reblogged your post on mine. I hope you don’t mind.

    Like

  27. I saw a some wows in the above msgs but Wow……….Wow!!!! Enjoyed it as you knew I would. What a opportunity/gift to be there on the 70th anniversary. You made the most of it and so glad your Mum was there to share it with you. And thank you so much for sharing it all with us your readers. It truly was an adventure in time and history I wouldn’t have wanted to miss! xoxoxo ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Oh I am so glad you enjoyed taking this trip to Jersey with me and Mum dear Diane, thrilled you enjoyed it, love sharing the experience and the journey with you my friend, thank you so much 🙂 ❤ xoxo

      Like

  28. jenniferkmarsh says:

    What a wonderful post, Sherri. So informative! Jersey looks very beautiful. What a curious, mysterious little island it it. Love that sign at the end. Words to live by! x

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Ahh, thank you so much, thrilled you enjoyed visiting Jersey with me Jenny Jen Jen! Love this… ‘curious, mysterious little island…’ Indeed it is, one that has utterly grabbed me. You must go one day, you will love it…and yes, you can see why I had to share that sign at the end…so very true 🙂 xx

      Like

  29. A really fascinating and informative post, Sherri. I’ve not been to Jersey, but it definitely sounds like it’s worth a visit one day. Some of those stories are very moving. War is such a terrible thing. Thanks for showing me the parade, and those gorgeous old cars. 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much Sylvia, I’m so glad you enjoyed reading about my visit to Jersey. It really is such a beautiful island, I can’t wait to go again! It’s an honour to share just a few stories from those war years, may we never forget. And yes, the parade was just wonderful, as you can see! Have a great trip Sylvia, see you when you return 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Wow! Sherri, what an amazing tour you have taken us on. That must have been breathtaking and joyous to be there celebrating liberation after the history they endured. How nice that you got to experience this with your dear mother.
    Beautiful photos too. 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Maria! So glad you enjoyed the tour of the beautiful island of Jersey. It truly was all these things, very humbling to have been there for such a momentous celebration. And yes, it was such a treat to share it with my dear mum…first time we’ve been away just the two of us for many years, and we are determined to do it more often. Thank you so much for your lovely comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Your post wins my heart for many reasons, Sherri. As a kid I went to the island of Jersey and Guernesey a few times as school fieldtrips. It is indeed very close to France and in my native land we call them Les Iles Anglo Normandes or the Anglo Norman Islands. I love the photos you add and the story of WWII. And the last photo is of course a wonderful way to remind us how to live our lives. Lovely meaningful post, Sherri.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      That is so interesting to know Evelyne, about your school trips there and also the name you know the islands by which reflect their long history and relationship with both England and France. I thought of you especially when writing this post, thinking of how close Jersey is to your native homeland, and of course, all the French names of the streets and places there 🙂 I’m honoured to share all that burst into my heart from my visit there with my mother, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts too in your lovely comment.

      Like

  32. TanGental says:

    My first holidays with the Textiliste when we were still just teenagers were Guernsey and then Jersey. The tunnels had a deep impact on us. I still find it difficult to grasp what the channel islanders must have thought of being abandoned by the rest of Britain without a fight. Logic says it was inevitable but even so Five years and then D day happens in June 1944 yet they wait until May 45 for liberation. It takes a sanguine temperament, a distinct nobility to suffer and not obviously be resentful. Delightful post, Sherri; you do describe your journey, physically as well and emotionally and intellectually so well, weaving us in and out. A truly compelling narrative.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Yes, I found that hard to understand too Geoff, wondering why the islanders were left to their own devices, and as I walked through the Tunnels, taking each step along the path of those occupation years from beginning to end (more than a little sobering) I kept thinking ‘How are these islanders so forgiving?’ Yet they are immensly proud of their heritage despite all they endured and yes, as you say, a distinct nobility to put those kind of resentments aside. I too can see the logic of the decisions that had to be made about the war effort being needed elsewhere, yet…it doesn’t sit too easily does it? And then I thought of how quiet and respectful they were when the Germans left at last, putting aside what could have only been their immense bitterness and hurt. As with you and the Textiliste, both Mum and I came away changed after visiting the War Tunnels, and I didn’t expect that for one moment. I found the entire experience utterly humbling. Thank you so much for your lovely comment and for sharing your Channel Islands experiences with me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Thank you too Sherri. Yes, changed indeed. I experienced something similar in Denmark and their Jewish museum that looked at Denmark’s time when occupied and both those who resisted and those who didn’t and how, after the war they worked to ensure the likely bitterness did not infect the peace so the Nazis won twice over It takes enormous stoicism to do that. And makes me cry a little – which I seen to do a lot more as I age.

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        Oh yes, those tears. Caught me completely off guard. Incredible respect for their stoicism…

        Like

  33. I’ve never been to this part of our glorious land, Sherri, but I hope to do so one day, especially for its history.

    I can’t imagine what the occupants of these islands must have gone through during those five years. It must have been sheer hell for all of them.

    I love your last photo with that wonderful verse. I will remember that last line for the rest of my time.

    A lovely post and wonderful photography. I’m so glad you attended the VE Day celebrations there. What I wouldn’t have done to have been able to dress up in uniform 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      So glad you enjoyed this post Hugh, thank you so much for your lovely comment. I felt like I had such a lot to share and it was difficult to fine tune it, but in the end I hoped to be able to convey the personal stories and the human side of war, terrible though it is. I am in awe of the people in Jersey, how lovely and charming and friendly, no hint of bitterness. They are so proud of their heritage despite previous generations having suffered under five long years of Nazi occupation. As for the uniforms, well, I’m sure you would have made a very dashing figure 🙂

      Like

  34. Wow — such rich history and so many stories!

    Would you post that photo of the plaque (every sixty seconds…..) on Facebook and make it public so I can share it? Thanks!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Jersey is rich in every sense of the word Tracy. Yes, will share (every sixty seconds sounds like a great idea), had it mind and then got distracted with the day… 🙂

      Like

  35. restlessjo says:

    I was hoping it would be a great little getaway for you and Mum, Sherri, but it was so much more than that! It’s not long since I read a novel, the heroine of which fell in love with an occupying German on Jersey. I can’t recall the title but it gave me much of the background that you’ve wonderfully presented here. How special to be there on such an occasion! And thank you for that timely reminder you close with. Hugs, darlin’ 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh Jo, it was the most amazing time. Most here seem to have read a book about the occupation on Jersey, I am ashamed to say I never have but that is going to change most definitely now! It was the very human stories from both sides that caught me every which way and which I so much wanted to share here. My head is still spinning from it all. Thank you so much for your lovely comment Jo and for your hugs too. Can always use one of those…hugging back 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  36. What a fascinating and excellently written post, Sherri. So glad you enjoyed your holiday with Mum, and you both got so much out of it.
    I’ve only spent one day in Jersey but what struck me about the place was how much more French than English it looks.
    I still haven’t forgotten a novel I read that’s set on the island in World War II — “The Collaborator” by Margaret Leroy. It’s a must for you to read, if you haven’t done so already. I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve recommended it to. xxxx

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh thank you so much Sarah, I’m so pleased you enjoyed it. And yes, I loved the French look of the place too, and all those small, rural roads and always, always, so very close to the beautiful coastline. It was like going back in time, driving along. I would love to go back and do a walking holiday there. I am so keen now to read more about the occupation so I will definitely look out for this book, thank you for the recommendation. It’s wonderful having all these fanstasic islands as part of our shores isnt it? 🙂 xxxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sometimes, Sherri, I wonder why people bother with all the hassle of foreign travel — especially if it involves vaccinations and lengthy air flights — when we have so many beautiful places to explore in and around the British Isles. I have a particular yearning to visit the Isle of Skye. xxxx

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        I agree Sarah. And yes, I would love to go to the Scottish Isles. Thanks to the sights beamed over from watching Springwatch, they look absolutely gorgeous don’t they? Hope you had a lovely weekend and all is well 🙂 xxxx

        Like

  37. Sherri I just only finished reading another bloggers post on this very same event. Jersey looks like a stunning place. Such a history and I love the quote you left us with. Very inspiring thank you.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Kath, always lovely to hear from you, I hope you had a wonderful weekend and thank you so much for your lovely comment, thrilled you enjoyed the read. And what a coincidence, Jersey is indeed stunning 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  38. Ste J says:

    What a poignant post, especially the ending, it is very moving to be where history took place, by which I mean history you can touch and feel as opposed to long ago history. The last photo was wonderful and an important message that we do forget often because we have no attention span for the important things. And speaking of important, did you try the Liberation Ale at all?

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Yes, the history there is ‘in your face’ in a sobering and powerful way. I was totally absorbed in all I read as I walked through, two hours flew by. At one point, I was standing right next to Winston Churchill, an amazing look alike, cigar and everything. People dressed up in authentic outfits of the 1940s roamed all over the place during Liberation weekend and you never knew who you might bump into. So glad you enjoyed the post and yes, I was inspired by the words at the end, so had to share. But, and you will be disappointed I know, I did not try the Liberation Ale as I am not an ale drinker. I should have though, then I could have given you a proper report. Well Ste, you will just have to go over there and try it for yourself, and then give me a report 😉

      Like

  39. Denise says:

    Wow, like you, I’d only heard of the pastoral sounding cows, milk, potatoes. Plus an ex-bf of mine spent a lot of time in Alderney, which also sounded idyllic. What an educational post.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      My mum spent time in all the islands back in the 80s and 90s (she used to work for the RNLI) and tells me the same thing. I had no idea how taken I would be with Jersey, and now I can’t wait to return and take hubby. Thanks so much Denise, glad you enjoyed the read 🙂

      Like

  40. Marie Keates says:

    What a wonderful post Sherri. It sounds like you had an interesting few days. I think I need to go for a visit, you know how much I love a bit of history.

    Like

  41. tieshka says:

    Hi Sherri- What an informative post. Nazi Germany was not good, but we must remember the past to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future. Glad you had a nice visit to Jersey Island with your mother (when I saw Jersey I immediately thought of New Jersey 🙂 ). I’ll have to look up the location on a map as this is the first time I’ve heard of this island.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Hi Tieshka! Lovely to hear from you as always 🙂 Haha…yes, I did wonder that with my American friends, that New Jersey would immediately come to mind 😉 Hopefully the little map at the top of this post gives you some idea of where it is in the English Channel (I wasn’t too sure myself) but it’s good to see on a larger map to gain a better perspective. Glad you enjoyed the post, thanks so much, and I look forward to catching up with you too. I’ve been away from blogging a fair bit these past couple of months for one reason or another and playing perpetual catch up 😮

      Like

  42. prior says:

    Hi mon amie – really enjoyed the transition at the end – from the boot print (with that warm reflection on it as well as the whole post leading up tip that) and then going to the ale – and seeing Liberation day on the handle. The slideshow of photos was another appreciated part – I really felt like I had toured there with you – and what a cool time to be there -for the 70th ann!!!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh and how I loved sharing Liberation Day with you mon amie! So glad you enjoyed the parade and the Liberation Ale – even though we didn’t actually get to try any, but just the handle alone made up for that…maybe 😉 It was wonderful to take part in the celebrations, the Jersey people are so welcoming and friendly. A very cool place, really want to explore the entire island now. Thank you so much as always for your thoughtful comment, bringing smiles to my morning 🙂 Have a lovely day ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • prior says:

        well just seeing the handles and the scene really was a nice touch to how they live there – even though I have to tell you so many times when the name Jersey came up _ I sometimes heard that word in my head the way you would hear the folks form the eastern US say it… “Jerrsee” or something like that – but you know what I mean

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        Haha…yes, I know what you mean mon amie, and I did wonder about that, lol 😀 ❤

        Like

  43. This was such a great post, Sherri! So well-written and beautiful photos…, I felt as if I was with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Seyi sandra says:

    I read this slowly, I wanted to savour every moment and every word you’d written. The story of the soldier and the girl sadden me the most. You know me, I’m an hopeless romantic. War is often tragic but like all things in life, it shaped the futures of generations of people. I’m certain you had a great time, the last quote on the Jersey War Tunnels rings true till today. Every precious minute is sacred and important, we ought to enjoy and relish it. I’m grateful you shared this with us, and I hope you’ll have a great weekend.
    Now I need to go downstairs and make another cup of tea, the weather is slightly horrendous today!
    Much love and blessings to you, I’ll be back! 🙂 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much dear Seyi for taking the time to read this post and for leaving your heartfelt, moving comment. Yes, it was the stories of the very human kind that moved me so deeply and that I wanted to share here. I was spellbound walking through the Jersey Tunnels, knowing that once such hardships were endured by the slaves in the very place where I walked with my mother, and as I did so I gained a very different perspective and much deeper respect for all those who lived under Nazi occupation for all those years. I am so very grateful and humbled to have had this experience, and then of course to have witnessed the wonderful Liberation Day celebrations 🙂
      Ahh…I hope your cup of tea did the trick and that the sun shines for you and your beautiful family this weekend my friend. So lovely to be back in touch with you. Much love and blessings to you and see you soon! 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Seyi sandra says:

        Yay! See you soon, hope you’re planning a new London trip? I’m certain we’ll see soon. I’ve been busy trying to get on top of work and it’s exhilarating but I’m still trying to balance things. I’m glad you had a great time at Jersey. I hope you’ll have a fantastic weekend!
        Much love and blessings. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sherri says:

          Thank you so much dear friend. I will certainly let you know! I hope you find that balance soon, but I know it’s not easy. I hope that you and your beautiful family have a fantastic weekend too. Perhaps we are in for some good weather at last. Much love and blessings to you too dear Seyi, and catch up soon! 🙂 ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  45. Hi, Sherri. Belated Happy Mother’s Day. Reading the post, looking at the moving pictures felt like I journeyed back in time and saw a glimpse of the pain and sufferings of war. It is sad that so many had to suffer and die, and yes, we all should value the freedom and liberation we all enjoy now. My grandparents were survivors of Japan occupation in the Philippines during WW-II. They had to flee their homes and hid in the mountains and caves. My grand father fought with the Americans and was part of us being liberated as well. But he died from a plane crash just after the war while my dad was still small. Wish I get to know him, an amazing man and a hero. Jersey is a beautiful place with people so hospital and kind. This post is beautiful tribute for such an unforgettable paradise. God bless my friend and all the best to your family.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Hi my friend. Thank you so much for sharing your family’s incredibly history with me, I am honoured and humbled. Your grandfather was a true hero and I will remember him from now on at times of Remembrance and Thanksgiving for all those who sacrificed so much for us, future generations, to live freely from oppression. I am so sorry that your dad lost his father so young after the war and I am so sorry for all your grandparents suffered during WWII. I am so glad to share just a very small piece of the island of Jersey here with you and that you got a good feel of the place. It truly is a paradise, that is a great description! But their story of occupation and then liberation is one that touches every heart who visits there and it is something we all share in and remember. God bless you and your family my friend, and thank you so much as always for reading and for your heartfelt, moving message.

      Like

  46. So much in this post (and the comments!) especially as I’m getting here so late. I’m not sure one line can sum this up but, if I may, I’d like to say this one does: “Jersey is a little slice of heaven on earth, but it also holds a long, complex history and a dark past.” Love the photos and all the accompanying info here. Thanks for sharing this, Sherri.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Oh Sarah, thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. I love that I got to share my thoughts about my visit to Jersey with you. I will never forget my visit there … ❤

      Like

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