At the commencement of the Second World War it had been decided by the British authorities that it would be impractical to defend the Channel Islands and the regiment stationed in Guernsey left the island. Residents were offered the option to be evacuated to England when invasion seemed likely as German Armed Forces progressively occupied northern France and advanced towards Normandy.
Almost half the population of Guernsey, all but seven people in Alderney and virtually none from Sark evacuated. After a bombing raid on St Peter Port which caused the death of more than 30 people at the harbour and serious damage to many buildings further afield Guernsey was occupied on 30th June 1940. A dramatically dark period of the island's history had begun.
After five long and unfortunate years of occupation Guernsey was liberated on 9th May 1945, Sark on 10th May and Alderney on 19th May
The period between D-Day 6th June 1944 and Liberation was particularly difficult for islanders and occupying forces alike because the food available could not provide for the needs of those remaining in the Island and could not be supplemented by the importation of food from France as had been the case since June 1940. In particular the islands principal lifeline for supplies from Granville on the coast of Normandy was closed. Food supplies and medicines had virtually been exhausted by the end of 1944. Islanders became malnourished and sick. Eventually international agreement enabled the Red Cross ship SS Vega to bring food parcels, many donated by citizens in Canada and New Zealand. She made the first of seven mercy food supply visits on 27th December 1944. Even then the amount of food which could be provided could not restore any normality but it did save many lives and improve morale.
It is worthy of note that in addition to the loss of a substantial percentage of the population through voluntary evacuation immediately prior to the occupation of the island its fragile economy suffered further loss as a result of the forced removal of islanders by the German authorities in breach of International Law.
In September 1942 Hitler ordered the deportation from Guernsey and Sark of persons born on the British mainland and subsequently persons who had at any time in their lives been enrolled in the armed forces of the Crown. The deportees were taken to civil internment camps in southern Germany. More persons were deported in 1943.
Liberation of these camps started in April 1945 but deportees were not able to return to Guernsey and Sark until after the Liberation of the islands. Those removed involuntarily remain aggrieved that despite profound disruption to their lives and in many cases businesses they have never received compensation from the German Government.
Less than a month after the Liberation on 7th June King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited the Island.
The 9th May is designated Liberation Day. It is a day on which islanders celebrate the liberation of the Island and the restoration of the rule of law, respect for international law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
A parade comprising war veterans, army, navy and air force cadets, youth organisations, a detachment from 201 (Guernsey's Own) Squadron of the Royal Air force, a detachment from a visiting Royal Naval ship, members of the Royal Hospital Chelsea and a standard bearers representing many local organisations and the essential services is inspected by His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor accompanied by the Bailiff.
There are two church inter-denominational church services. That held at the Town church is attended by His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor and the Bailiff and Jurats and Advocates of the Royal Court. The other interdenominational service is attended by the Deputy Bailiff.
The remainder of the day is organised by the Culture and Leisure Department and is marked by a carnival atmosphere.