Guernsey Liberation Day is observed on May 9 every year. It commemorates the island’s freedom from German Occupation during World War II. The Island or Bailiwick of Guernsey is one of two crown dependencies that make up the Channel Islands, the other and bigger of the two is the Bailiwick of Jersey. They are known as archipelagos and are located on the English Channel between England and France. German occupation began on June 30, 1940.
History of Guernsey Liberation Day
Guernsey was officially occupied by the Germans on June 30, 1940, approximately eight months after the Second World War started. They are not part of the United Kingdom, but the U.K. is responsible for the defense and international relations of the island. However, the British Government decided to leave Guernsey undefended as German planes bombed the harbor in the capital parish of St. Peter Port, after mistaking a group of tomato lorries for a convoy of troop carriers. After 48 hours, German troops began to land and raise their flag.
Half of the population, including children, had to be evacuated to the U.K. The invasion lasted for almost five years, and the island found itself under German rule as ‘Hitler´s Island Madness,’ becoming the most fortified place in the world. The island was the only British territory conquered by Hitler.
Locals had most of their lands and belongings taken away by the Germans. Some were sent to prisons and camps, while others resisted through protests between 1940 and 1945. Many lost their families, homes, and lives. The Island of Guernsey was freed the day after Churchill announced the end of the war in 1945. The reminder of how resilient the islanders were and the accompanying sense of freedom are what we celebrate on Guernsey Liberation Day.
Guernsey Liberation Day timeline
Germany invades Poland, starting World War II.
German soldiers officially occupy Guernsey on June 30.
The British conduct a small raid on the German-occupied British Channel Island of Sark to capture prisoners and for offensive reconnaissance.
Japan formally surrenders, and U.S. General Douglas MacArthur accepts, thus ending the war on September 2.
Guernsey Liberation Day FAQs
What is on Liberation Day in Guernsey?
May 9 will begin with the siren from Victoria Tower at 8:59 am, in remembrance of those who fought in World War II.
How many people live in the Guernsey Channel Islands?
As of March 2021, Guernsey’s population was 63,448.
What is Guernsey known for?
Guernsey is still famous for its excellent dairy herd.
How to Observe Guernsey Liberation Day
Watch a World War II movie
See one of several movies about World War II. We recommend “Schindler's List,” “Casablanca,” “Come and See,” “Saving Private Ryan,” or “Dunkirk.”
Travel to Guernsey
If you can, take a trip to the island. The festivities culminate with a fireworks display against the stunning backdrop of Castle Cornet.
Watch the celebration online
Can’t travel? Watch the celebration online.
5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Guernsey Island
A large tidal range
Guernsey has an impressive 33-foot tidal range, which is one of the world’s largest.
It has lovely weather
Guernsey is one of the more southern regions in Europe with lovely temperatures.
Pleinmont Point is open to the public
German troops controlled the island’s artillery while fighting British aircraft from Pleinmont Tower at the top of Pleinmont Point.
Blended traditional meals
Traditional Guernsey meals mix French and English flavors.
A charming little capital
Saint Peter Port has cobbled streets and narrow alleyways and is home to the Liberation Monument.
Why Guernsey Liberation Day is Important
A moment to value freedom
It is an opportunity to be grateful for living in a country where people are free. It celebrates the fights for freedom throughout history and around the world.
It raises awareness about history
It is a day to talk about what happened during World War II. It’s a time to remember its deep-seated effects.
A good day for fireworks
The day ends with a fireworks display against the stunning backdrop of Castle Cornet. Fireworks are not just beautiful, they are exhilarating.
Guernsey Liberation Day dates