A MOMENT IN TIME
Some of the most extensive coverage of the Liberation story comes from May 1985 – the 40th anniversary. Reporters from Channel Television, whose remarkable collection of films is now in the care of the Jersey Archive, chronicled a week which included the return of former soldiers in Task Force 135 who were part of Operation Nestegg, Allied airmen who had been imprisoned in Jersey during the Occupation but had escaped, and German soldiers who had been part of the occupying force.
It was to be the last big re-union of its type.
Photographs and film have played an important part in memorialising the liberation of the Channel Islands. Photographers and amateur film-makers captured the crowds in the Royal Square listening to Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s BBC broadcast at 3.00pm on Tuesday 8th May, and Jersey’s Bailiff Alexander Coutanche being mobbed by the crowd afterwards.
Remarkably, two Channel Islanders had hidden colour 16mm film-stock for five years in the hope that it would still be useable when Liberation Day came. It was. So, in Guernsey Doctor Brook Sutcliffe recorded the landing of the liberating troops. In Jersey, Doctor Mortimer Evans did the same. These few feet of precious safety film – the only known to have been in colour - provide us with unique moving images of a special moment in time.
Forty years on, the scenes from 9th May 1945, in Jersey and Guernsey, were played out again in peacetime. Many of the members of Task Force 135 – most now in their sixties – were brought back as guests of the islands. In Jersey, there were emotional re-unions and a reception at Government House with a speech of thanks by the Bailiff, Sir Frank Ereaut.
After the Allies had re-taken Normandy, liberation could not come quickly enough for some of Jersey’s young men. In the final months of the Occupation many plotted their escape from the Island’s east coast. On the 40th anniversary of the Liberation they came together to swap stories…
The 1985 Channel Television coverage of the Liberation - now recognised as an important historical record – included the story of slave workers brought to Jersey by the Organisation Todt to construct the German fortifications. Some were housed in a camp in St Ouen’s Bay, among them Vincent Solly. He talked to Alastair Layzell, along with Jerseyman Norman Le Brocq who had been active in sheltering escaped workers, tried (unsuccessfully) to persuade German soldiers to mutiny in the final months of the war, and later became a Deputy in the States of Jersey.
WITH THANKS TO:
ITV Channel Television
Dawn Howard (1958 - 2017) Film Librarian