Major Lanz with his car in front of the HQ established in

one of the local hotels.

The same scenario happened in Guernsey.

In total the German bombers dropped 180

bombs. Ambrose Sherwill, Attorney General

at Guernsey, telephoned directly to Whitehall during the raid and with sound of falling

bombs in the background demanded that the

information about the Islands demilitarization

is immediately transmitted. It was too late, 44

civilians lost their lives due to the “reconnaissance“ bombing. And while Wehrmacht

was planning the operation Grünpfeil (Green

Arrow) to capture the Islands, several consequent reconnaissance flights at low altitudes

confirmed that there was no military presence

there. Hptm. Liebe-Pieteritze even landed at

Guernsey airport while another three aircraft

were patrolling in the air. No resistance was

spotted. The very same day, in the late afternoon Ju 52 was dispatched with a platoon on

board and Germans were met by the local

police representative at the airport presenting a document which stated, in German, that

the Islands are by the decision of His Majesty

government “opened,” and therefore without

a military defense. In the following meeting

with the island representatives major Albrecht

Lanz informed, that from that moment the

Guernsey was occupied by the German army.

Jersey followed a day later, Alderney on June 2

and Sark was occupied on June 4. Major Lanz

became the first commander of the Channel

Islands occupying forces, although only for

brief period. Starting from September 26 he

was replaced by Rudolf Graf von Schmettlow,

who stayed for more than four years and was

promoted from the Colonel rank to the Lieutenant general. The abovementioned airfield

at Guernsey was serving as a handy base for

Luftwaffe in many situations, especially during

the Battle of Brittain.

Suffering and helplessness

Immediately after capturing the Islands the

Germans forbade the local population to own

the radio receivers and ordered the driving on

the right-hand side. Shortly afterwards the

shortage of fuel prevented the local population from using the motor vehicles anyway. The

life of the Islands people under the German

occupation was harsh. Farming produce and

animals were confiscated for German army

consumption on the regular basis, so the population suffered from hunger. Deportations

to the concentration camps took place for

various infractions. When in 1941 the British

and Soviet armed forces captured Iran, Hitler

12 eduard

issued an order to deport 10 inhabitants of the

Islands to the concentration camps for each

killed German citizen. His order was fulfilled

in September 1942 and 2,200 people were

transported to German camps; 45 of them did

not survive. Shortly after capturing the Islands

Germans started to build the important infrastructure and a network of fortifications, which

became the part of the Atlantic Wall and was

primarily built on Jersey. The Germans brought in a lot of prisoners for the slavery work.

Most of them were Russians and other nations

of the Soviet Union. Any help to escapees was

harshly punished. One of the heart-breaking

stories is the one of a small shop owner Louise Gould who was hiding the Russian prisoner escapee for eighteen months. She herself

had lost a son serving with the Navy and as

she confessed to her friend, she had to do something for a son of another mother. In 1944

she was betrayed, captured, and sent to the

Ravensbruck concentration camp where she

was killed in the gas chamber in 1945. Her story was revived in the 2018 movie The Guernsey

Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, although

in modified way.

Omelette from nest eggs

The difficult situation of the Channel Islands

population was well known to the British Government but except of the sporadic raids of

the Commandos, the units under command

of Admiral Louis Mountbatten (uncle of the

recently passed Prince Philip), they could not

do anything else. The idea of the Islands liberation was conceived already during 1943 as

the operation Constellation. Once it was discovered that the German military strength on

the Islands grew to as many as nearly 30,000

soldiers the plan was abandoned. The strong

German garrison and built fortifications would

have required the heavy bombing from the air

and naval artillery shelling, which would have

certainly resulted in heavy civilian casualties.

In the end of 1943, the less aggressive operation Rankin started to be worked on in three

options. Option A calculated with the action

prior to liberation of France, taking advantage

of possible transfer of majority of the German

garrison to mainland and of lowered morale

of the remaining soldiers. The B option counted on the full abandonment of the Islands by

Germans and finally option C considered the

action after the Germany capitulation. The last

one was considered the most feasible. On November 10, 1943 General F. E. Morgan, Chief of

Staff of the Supreme Command of the Allied

Corps (COSSAC) issued the directive to execute the operation Rankin C. At the beginning of

1944 Brigadier General A. E. Snow was named

a commander of the Task Force 135 detached

from No. 115 Brigade. According to the original plans this unit was to execute the liberation of The Channel Islands. The independent

command was established, and the detailed

planning commenced. On Agust 11 the operation designation was changed to Nest Egg and

Plymouth was selected as a launching point.

For the best planning, the information about

the terrain obtained from the evacuated inhabitants were used and even more valuable

information came from those who from time

to time managed to escape in the small boats.

According to the intelligence it became necessary to capture both Guernsey and Jersey in

one day, so the fighting force requirement was

raised to three battalions of 700 men each. At

the same time, the transportation of 200 tons

of food, clothing and medical supplies was

factored in. The command however was not in

a hurry to execute the operation. After the D-Day the German soldiers on the Islands were

considered de facto prisoners from the British

point of view. Therefore, the units assigned to

Task Force 135 were relieved to support the

2nd Army of General Dempsey. The operation

against the Islands were limited to dropping

the leaflets in German language. Since September 1944 they were falling from the sky

almost every night advising the occupiers to

restrain their actions against the civilian population. The Red Cross supplies were negotiated

successfully to lessen the suffering during the

winter 1944/45. The supply ship anchored in

the middle of December.


On May 4, declared as W-Day (Warning Day),

things got into motion and the day launched

the count-down to the beginning of the operation. Task Force 135 consisted of 6,000 men.

The local authorities on the Islands barely controlled the order and tried to discourage the

population from displaying the Union Jacks as

The fuel was of very short supply for the civilians and most of the vehicles were confiscated. Given these facts,

this ambulance got the power of two horses…

INFO Eduard - May 2021

Photo: Imperial War Museum

Photo: Imperial War Museum