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The Channel Islands and the Great War
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Jersey and its German Prisoners of War


The German Occupation of Jersey and the other Channel Islands during the Second World War is well-publicised and documented, and the traces of almost five years of German defensive construction abounds in the shape of the many bunkers, control towers and the Jersey Underground Hospital just to cite a few examples. For many of the older residents, memories of the presence of more than 10,000 jackbooted soldiers remain fresh along with their experiences of near-starvation rations and other privations. In Jersey, however, the German presence had also existed some 25 years earlier in the form of the many hundreds of German Prisoners of War brought over from England "for the duration", in a somewhat different manner to Hitler's conquering armies of 1940.

The German Prisoners of War Camp

The German Prisoners of War were required to be housed in a secure camp with the appropriate facilities needed to ensure that the British Empire complied with the Hague Convention. Today, we are fortunate in having a highly detailed account of the Camp's selection and construction at Blanches Banques in Jersey, the influx of the Germans, their conditions, camp activities (including a number of attempts at escaping!), and the coincidental discovery of Neolithic remains.

For that we have to thank the late Major TE Naish RE who, in April 1920, produced that account for the Société Jersiaise, having commanded the RE troops in the Jersey District for almost the full duration of the Great War and for some time afterwards. His original account was published in the Société's Bulletin of 1955 and can be found in Volume XVI Part III, pages 269-280.

Pow Camp
The article can be accessed via the link below, and the Société Jersiaise, and in particular the Library (Anna Baghiani), Documents Archive (Pauline Syvret), and the Photographic Archive (Gareth Syvret) are to be greatly thanked for providing the Group with the Société's permission to reproduce the article and its accompanying photographs in full on this website. It should be noted that some minor editing of Major Naish's original account has taken place to "marry-up" text to photographs.

Clearly, Major Naish presented a view that was that of a captor. To date we have not found any account of a German Prisoner of War to publish, but readers may be interested in the accompanying photographs of Dr Gerhard Günzel, a Prisoner of War between the Autumn of 1914 and September 1919, of which some two years were spent at Blanche Banques.

Link to article

A photograph album from the camp


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