Guernsey

Rare Guernsey occupation footage uncovered in Jersey

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Media captionGerman soldiers shown firing anti-aircraft guns, driving tanks and training

Footage showing German soldiers in Guernsey during World War Two has been uncovered.

The images, recently restored in Jersey by Kevin Lewis, are understood to have been filmed by troops chronicling their occupation of the island.

It was owned by John Davies who moved to Jersey from Wales in 1929 and had business interests in Guernsey.

Mr Lewis said the footage was probably last watched shortly after the war in the late 1940s.

The video is about seven minutes long, which Mr Lewis said could make up a significant part of all available footage of the occupation due to restrictions on filming put in place by the German authorities.

The 16mm films were discovered in Jersey amongst Mr Davies personal effects after his death. It is believed the footage was "liberated" from German soldiers in Guernsey.

It depicts aspects of ordinary life and training for the German soldiers, including firing anti-aircraft guns and driving tanks.

Climbing in bins

Kevin Lewis, who restores old films as a hobby, said projects like this have challenges of their own.

"The film was very, very concave. It was very old. The only way I can show it is to put it in the projector backwards and project it through a mirror.

"Sadly, if a great uncle passes away all of these films go into the skip. I can often be seen climbing into skips saying 'this is our heritage, when it is gone it is gone and we need to preserve it'," he said.

The film is being offered to the Imperial War Museum to be re-printed and fully restored before being put into the Jersey Archive.


Channel Islands occupation

  • Only British soil to be occupied during the war
  • After the German offensive raced through France, the British government decided the islands were not strategically important and left them undefended
  • This was not communicated to the Germans who bombed St Peter Port Harbour and targets in neighbouring Jersey, killing 44 people
  • German troops landed in Guernsey by plane on 30 June 1940 - the start of five years of occupation
  • The islands were turned into an "impregnable fortress" on the express orders of Adolf Hitler
  • A fifth of all the defence works in the Atlantic Wall - a defensive line stretching from the Baltic to the Spanish Frontier - were built on the islands
  • The island's government continued under German rule, which some regarded as collaboration

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