- WE REMEMBER -
Liberation from five years of German occupation lives on in the Island’s collective memory. But the number of islanders who were there 75 years ago is dwindling. Alastair Layzell looks at one of the most momentous days in Jersey’s contemporary history.
Though Liberation Day, 9th May, has always been a public holiday in Jersey, by the 1980s enthusiasm for marking it had waned. In 1995, on the 50th anniversary, the then Bailiff Sir Philip Bailhache, decided to do something about it. Here he talks about the importance of Liberation Day, along with Cambridge University academic Dr Gilly Carr, and Islander Bob Le Sueur who will be 100 in October.
They called it ‘Operation Nestegg’ – the liberation of the Channel Islands by Task Force 135. The main surrender was signed in HMS Bulldog off Guernsey on the morning of 9th May 1945 by Major-General Siegfried Heine, Deputy Fortress Commandant in Guernsey, in the presence of the task force’s commanding officer, Brigadier Alfred Snow. Later that day, the destroyer HMS Beagle anchored off Jersey and Jersey’s Bailiff, Alexander Coutanche, went aboard to witness the surrender of German forces in Jersey.
THREE FACES OF SURRENDER
ABOARD HMS BULLDOG 9TH MAY 1945
46-year old Brigadier Alfred Ernest Snow, Commander of Task Force 135, had been with the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1940 – and was made an OBE (Military) for his service with the BEF. He died in Somerset in 1983.
Generalmajor Siegfried Heine, Deputy Commander of the German garrison, signed the surrender of enemy forces in the Channel Islands. Born in Potsdam in 1883, he joined the German Army in 1901, served (and was severely wounded) in the First World War, and took part in the Winter Campaign in Russia in 1941. He was detained in a Prisoner-of-War camp in Wales until 1948. He died in Germany in 1975.
KAPITANLEUTNANT ARMIN ZIMMERMAN
Kapitanleutnant Armin Zimmerman (described by Warwork News as ‘a young man with all the most odious Nazi characteristics’) was born in Brazil in 1917. Zimmerman joined the Kriegsmarine in 1937. After the Second World War, he became an admiral in the West German Navy and, eventually, the country’s Chief of Defence. He played an important role in NATO. He died in office in Bonn in 1976 at the age of 58.