|This is a very brief account
of the Acts of the States and their Committees in connection
with the Great War, showing some of the measures adopted
in order to give the fullest help in the prosecution of
the War and to protect the population from suffering unduly
from the hardships and privations entailed by the colossal
struggle, in which all the Great Powers of Europe were involved.
Apart from the published reports of debates in the States
and Orders which have been issued from time to time in
the local press, the general public had little knowledge
of all that had been done to achieve results, which on
the face of things would appear to be almost incompatible,
viz:- to obtain from the Island its maximum effort in
support of the Empire, achieve for its population the
fullest degree of comfort and well-being, maintain with
the British authorities in London the most cordial relations
and avoid any curtailment of the Island's constitutional
liberties, which were quite unknown to the majority of
the new Ministries brought into existence by the War.
Notwithstanding the almost insuperable difficulties of
the task, it is now conceded that success has rewarded
the efforts of Jersey's public men. Some day it may be
possible to publish a full record, with copies of documents
which will be of material importance to future generations.
For the present, it is only possible to give a brief outline
of the most important Acts of the States and their Committees.
War was declared with Germany on the 4th August, 1914,
and on the same day an Order in Council was issued recalling
to active service the Militia Reserve of the Island as
a whole in accordance with the terms of the Jersey Militia
Act. This Order was registered by the Royal Court on the
6th August, 1914. The mobilisation of the Militia was
proceeded with by the Lieutenant-Governor as General Officer
Commanding the Troops in Jersey; and it need hardly be
said that all responded to the call with the greatest
alacrity. The regular garrison was at once removed to
take part in the actual fighting, and all garrison and
coast defence duties were carried out by the Militia.
Although service in the Militia is supposed to be gratuitous,
it could not be expected that Officers and men should
give their time without compensation, and the States expended
for the mobilisation of the Militia from 29th July, 1914
to 23rd February, 1917 a total sum of £99,356 11s.
From the outset and during the whole of this period numbers
of Jersey officers, NCOs and men joined the Regular Forces
of the Crown; so that Jerseymen were to be found fighting
in every theatre of the Great War.
From the 23rd February, 1917, the Militia Act was suspended
and all officers, NCOs and men in Jersey were incorporated
in the Imperial Forces under a Military Service Act adopted
sometime earlier by the States, subject to a claim to
exemption which was dealt with by Tribunals established
under the Act. It is safe to say that all Tribunals, both
Central and District, carried out their duties with great
firmness, efficiency and fairness; and that in the result
Jersey supplied its very full quota of men to the Forces.
When the enemy had been finally defeated, it was felt
that it would be impossible for industry to re-absorb
the men as fast as they would be demobilised, and the
Imperial Government therefore decided to give grants to
the demobilised men for a period long enough to enable
them to find remunerative occupation. The Jersey States
decided to bear their share of this burden; and the same
treatment was accorded to women, who were no longer required
in Munition Works.
When it was realised that it would be necessary to mobilise
the whole of the manpower of the Allies, the Imperial
Government ordered that all men and women in the United
Kingdom between certain ages should be registered. The
States took a similar decision for Jersey and National
Registration was carried out with great efficiency in
the various parishes.
It was also found necessary to conserve all classes of
merchandise and materials which could be used in helping
to win the War. It was soon ascertained that Motor Transport
was the most convenient and the most rapid method of conveying
troops and munitions; and it therefore became necessary
to reduce to a minimum the consumption of Motor Spirit
by Civilians; this was done in Jersey by limiting the
supply only to consumers who had been licensed by the
Great restrictions were also placed on the import of
goods not of prime necessity, so as to aid in preserving
for the Army the largest proportion possible of the means
Control was likewise established on the export of cattle,
of foodstuffs, and of other Articles required by the population;
whilst many classes of goods were permitted to be exported
only to the United Kingdom.
The Jersey States took over the control of Food Production
some months before the British Government decided on a
similar policy. The quantity of land under tomato culture
was reduced, and that under potatoes increased. As a consequence,
in 1917, the most critical year for food supply in England,
Jersey established a record for the export of potatoes.
Over 20,000 tons were supplied to the Army alone in each
of the years 1917 and 1918.
The supply of milk and butter was one of the most difficult
problems for the Defence Committee. They succeeded well
in maintaining on the Island the maximum number of cattle
which could be fed, but on a few occasions the question
of cattle foods became very critical. This difficulty
was however overcome by obtaining sanction from London
for a strictly necessary supply. The local supply of pork
was also increased in consequence of the policy adopted
for the purpose. The distribution of essential foods was
moreover placed under control and the prices of certain
commodities regulated, such as bread, meat, potatoes,
margarine, sugar, and so on.
Early in the war, it was realised that, unless precautions
were taken, Jesrey might well be without a supply of bread;
and the Defence Committee therefore constantly kept a
reserve supply of flour. Had this not been done, the island
would undoubtedly on several occasions have been without
At one time, there was a shortage of meat and some time
later of margarine; but the Defence Committee's delegate
in London was in both instances able to arrange with the
authorities there for regular supplies, which never failed.
In the same way, arrangements were made from time to time
to secure shipping for the import of coal and for the
export of potatoes.
The supply of coal also came under control, and it is
noteworthy that, although Jersey imports coal from England,
in no place in the United Kingdom has the population been
more regularly provided with this necessity.
Jersey should be gratified by the fact that, when the
sister Island of Guernsey was threatened with a coal famine
we were able to supply them with a full cargo of house
coal and several hundred tons of gas coal.
On one or two occasions, constitutional difficulties
arose, but it is very much to the credit of the British
Government representatives and of the Jersey States that
they were settled satisfactorily without involving any
sacrifice of the constitutional rights of either.
The Island of Jersey appears to have been the only part
of the British Empire in Europe which was able to ration
its population without enforcing a personal rationing
scheme, except for sugar, thus avoiding much annoyance
Finally, Jersey voted to the Imperial Government grants
amounting to £100,000 towards the expenses of the
War; and these sums were sent as soon as they were voted.
This brief sketch omits much important work which was
carried on during the War by the States and their Committees
Enough however has been said to give some idea of the
work done and to show the necessity of publishing a more
complete account when time and opportunity permit.