Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Jersey Under the Swastika - III The Utimatum and Surrender

Continuing the occasional transcription of Ralph Mollet's account of the Occupation of Jersey, this extract takes us up to the point when the Island was occupied.

It has been a while since I've re-read any histories of the Occupation, and what I find striking in Mollet's account (though no doubt also in other accounts) is the singular lack of good communication with the Germans. The Islands had been demilitarized, but no one seems to have been able or checked that the Germans had this message. One would have thought it would be easy enough to broadcast the fact on the wireless, or to use a neutral country to get the message through.

Instead, the Jersey authorities seem to have waited for the Germans to get in touch with them, leading to bombing raids, destruction of property and loss of life. Did the Jersey government assume the British government had notified Germany? Did the British government fail to do so effectively? From other accounts, it seems that the British government decided to keep the demilitarization a secret from the German forces, and there was no enquiry as to why this omission, which seems incredibly stupid, was taken.

So when the German officials did send a message - "I intend to neutralize military establishments in Jersey by occupation" - it was clear they had no notification at all, and threatened "heavy bombardment".

Ralph Mollet's account mentions as before that "many people left to sleep in the country". Unfortunately this account is extremely sparse, and I would have liked more detail as to exactly where they went and what they did. Did they just sleep out in the open (it was, after all, summer and fine weather)? How did they get there? And how far out was considered "country"? How, in fact, does Mollet know this?

"In case of peaceful surrender; the lives, property, and liberty of peaceful inhabitants are solemnly guaranteed." said the notice. In fact, of course, there was to be a steady erosion of liberties under German rule.

Jersey Under The Swastika by Ralph Mollet

ON Friday the 28th June and during the two previous days German planes flew over the Island, very low at times. The shipping continued to leave with cargoes of, potatoes, and the mail steamer left as usual in the afternoon. About 6.55 p.m. on the 28th, three German planes flew over La Rocque, machine-gunning the district and dropping two 50 lb. H.E. bombs on the road near the Harbour. Mr. John Adams (an Air Raid Warden) was killed on his doorstep, whilst Mr. Thomas Pilkington and Mrs. Farrell were killed by bullets, when sitting on a form in the vicinity.

The planes flew over Samarès, firing as they went; over Havre des Pas the bullets were seen ploughing the sand on the beach ; two bombs were dropped on Mount Bingham, killing Mr. John Ph. Mauger near his house, and damaging many houses near by. Two fell on the Fort and the District Office, and others fell in the Old Harbour, setting fire to many small boats. The planes then went over the Island to St. Ouen, returning to St. Helier, machine-gunning the Albert and North Piers, dropping bombs on Commercial Buildings, setting fire to Norman's wood-stores. The furze on Fort Regent caught fire and burnt for several days. The planes, after again machine-gunning various parts of the Island, then dropped two bombs on the Yacht Hotel and two on the Pomme d'Or Hotel. Messrs. Robert Fallls, Leslie Bryan, and W. C. Moodie were killed on the piers, and Messrs. F. W. Ferrand and Wm. A. Coleman in Mulcaster Street. Many other persons were wounded and taken to the General Hospital.

Mr. Harold F. Hobbs was killed in the Guernsey life-boat when off Noirmont on its way to Jersey-

A telegram reporting the raid was sent to the Home Office ; this was the last communication sent to the British Government. Jersey was not declared " an Open Town" by the B.B.C. until three hours after the raid. Many people again left the town to sleep in the country.

On the following Saturday, -19th June, and Sunday, there were several alarms, and everyone was rather nervous and anxious as to what would happen next. All shipping had left the harbour on Friday evening; the cables to Guernsey and England were still in use.

'On the 1st July, at 5.30 a.m., planes flew low over the town and airport, dropping copies of an ultimatum. One landed in Bath Street and two at the airport. The police of St. Helier and Mr. Roche, Controller of the airport, took them at once to the Bailiff. The message was as follows :-


1st July, 1940-

To the Chief of the Military and Civil Authorities.

Jersey (St. Helier).

1. I intend to neutralize military establishments in Jersey by occupation.

2. As evidence that the Island will surrender the military and other establishments without resistance and without destroying them, a large White Cross is to be shown as follows, from 7 a.m., July 2nd, 1940.

a. In the centre of the air port in the East of the Island.
b. On the highest point of the fortifications of the port.
c. On the square to the north of the Inner Basin of the Harbour.

Moreover all fortifications, buildings, establishments and houses are to show the White Flag.

3. If these signs of peaceful surrender are not observed by 7 a.m., July 2nd, heavy bombardment will take place,

a. Against all military objects.
b. Against all establishments and objects useful for defence.

4. The signs of surrender must remain up to the time of the occupation of the Island by German troops.

5. Representatives of the Authorities must stay at the air port until the Occupation.

6. All Radio traffic and other communication with Authorities outside the Island will be considered hostile actions and will be followed by bombardment.

7. Every hostile action against my representatives will be followed by bombardment.

8. In case of peaceful surrender; the lives, property, and liberty of peaceful inhabitants are solemnly guaranteed.

The Commander of the German Air Forces in Normandy,

The Bailiff immediately summoned the Royal Court at 9.30 a.m., and the States to meet later. The States then made an Act to comply with the terms of the ultimatum. :--

Copies of the translation of the ultimatum were printed and posted up in all parts of the Island with the following footnote :-

"The States have ordered this Communication to be printed and posted forthwith, and charge the inhabitants to keep calm, to comply with the requirements of the Communication, and to offer no resistance whatsoever to the occupation of the Island."

Large white flags were hoisted on all public buildings, and white flags of various materials were flown from the majority of the houses, whilst white crosses were painted in the Square and at the places mentioned in the ultimatum.

Jersey with her centuries of attachment to the British Crown, was forced reluctantly to surrender to the enemy.

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