25th June 1940

First meeting of Guernsey’s Controlling Committee

When Guernsey was demilitarised, and invasion looked increasingly likely, the States established what became known as the Controlling Committee.

Comprising eight islanders with specific portfolios, and headed by Attorney General Ambrose Sherwill, it effectively became Guernsey’s government before and during the German invasion. Why was it required? Because the States had recognised the need for a smaller, more agile body that could make decisions quickly.

Creation and structure

The Committee was created on 21 June 1940, and met for the first time four days later, on the 25th. However, it had a major upset just a few months later when Ambrose Sherwill was deposed as its president.

The Germans discovered that Sherwill had been aware of the presence of Hubert Nicolle and James Symes. These two British soldiers, both of whom had existing knowledge of Guernsey, had been dispatched on a reconnaissance mission. When their boat hadn’t appeared to collect them, they’d found themselves stranded on the island.

Sherwill had denied any knowledge of their presence. He petitioned that the deadline for them to give themselves up be extended so they had the best possible chance of escape. When it was obvious they were trapped, he doctored the uniforms that they wore to surrender, so they wouldn’t be shot as spies.

Sherwill’s demotion

Sherwill went on trial for his involvement in the cover-up. Although he was not convicted, all of his authority was removed. Thus, had no position on which to rely when, in 1943, the Germans deported anyone from the Channel Islands who had any kind of military background. Had he still been on the Controlling Committee he would have been passed over. As he was not, he was set to Laufen Internment Camp for the rest of the war.

Although Guernsey was liberated on 9 May 1945, the Controlling Committee wasn’t immediately disbanded. Tthe Priaulx Library now holds minutes of its meetings running through to September of that year.

Jurat John Leale, who took over from Sherwill as President of the Controlling Committee was knighted in the honours announced in December 1945. Sherwill was awarded a CBE, and became Bailiff of Guernsey several years later.

 

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Other events that occured in June

Cricketer Charles Grieve died in Shropshire 1st
St Johns undertook its first Guernsey rescue 2nd
Bailiff John Guille died in Plymouth 3rd
GUNS writer Joseph John Gillingham was deported 4th
First arrests were made at Guernsey Airport 5th
Jethou was put on the market 6th
The king and queen celebrated Guernsey’s liberation 7th
Occupying forces confiscated Guernsey’s radios 8th
Guernsey Railway company ceased operations 9th
Guernsey welcomed its first steam ship 10th
Laura Kennington kicks off Channel Islands triathlon 11th
Dame Sibyl became a dame again 12th
Guernsey voted to legalise local abortions 13th
Victor Hugo’s house is opened to the public 14th
The Channel Islands were demilitarised 15th
Guernsey was invaded by Colorado beetles 16th
States Telephone Department was established 17th
Pollet guest house fire claimed its third victim 18th
Aurigny founder Derrick Bailey died 19th
Guernsey joined the Football Association 20th
Guernsey’s school children were evacuated 21st
Guernsey celebrated Queen Victoria’s jubilee 22nd
Princess Elizabeth opened Guernsey’s hospital 23rd
Guernsey chose England over France 24th
First meeting of Guernsey’s Controlling Committee 25th
Guernsey bought Fort Grey from the War Office 26th
Guernsey coffee trader William Le Lacheur died 27th
G-JOEY completes his last flight 28th
Guernsey suffered its first and only air raid
The Star was published for the first time 29th
Two deserters were shot after landing on Guernsey 30th