18th November 1940

German forces confiscated Guernsey’s radios

When the war started to turn against Germany, the decision was made – in 1942 – to confiscate all of the private radios on Guernsey. However, this wasn’t the first time that the wireless sets had been taken. Two years earlier, in November 1940, they had been taken for the first time after Hubert Nicolle had become stranded on the island gathering information.

The significance of confiscating the radios apparently wasn’t lost on those whose sets were taken away. Ruth Ozanne kept comprehensive diaries throughout the occupation. In Life in Occupied Guernsey, edited by William Parker, she writes,

Alas! My wireless was taken away this morning leaving a horrible blank. Anyhow we know how well the Greeks are doing and how they are threatening Coritza. We have also heard of the great British victory by the navy Air Arm over the Italian fleet at Taranto. So we feel very cheerful. Sir Philip Joubert, too, was most heartening in his last talk. We think it is a healthy sign that we are not allowed our wireless as the Germans cannot afford to let their men hear the truth as so many of them have been listening to the British news.

By the 21st she was “missing our wireless horribly”. On the 23rd, “all sorts of rumours are about now that we have no wireless”. The most serious of these, perhaps, was the one that England itself was saying that victory was “uncertain”.

The truth will out

If the Germans wanted to control the flow of information through the confiscation, it certainly looked like they’d succeeded – at least in the early days.

However, the problem for the German authorities wasn’t so much the locals listening to the news, but their own men. Ozanne noted that the troops were dissatisfied by what they were hearing, which she looked upon as some form of recompense for the loss of the radios.

The problem, of course, was that without hearing the stories from a reliable authority like the BBC, there was no way of knowing whether the tidbits that were passed around from person to person were true.

Of course, this was rectified later in the occupation with the establishment of GUNS, the Guernsey Underground News Sheet, which contained summaries of the BBC news that had been gathered via an illicit radio. Unfortunately, the team behind the news-sheet was betrayed, arrested and deported to prisons in mainland Europe.


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Other events that occured in November

Car plane air crash caused airport fireball 1st
A hospital worker stood accused of murder 2nd
Sark’s vineyards were vandalised 3rd
The original Torteval church was consecrated 4th
Sibyl Beaumont married Robert Hathaway 5th
The papers were excited by a Guernsey execution 6th
The States agrees to pay the Bailiff 7th
States of Guernsey hired its first independent vet
The Little Theatre was reprieved… for a while 8th
Guernsey was declared free of cholera 9th
Guernsey optician Specsavers was founded 10th
The court considered a Guernsey porn dealer’s testimony 11th
Guernsey Yacht Club was founded 12th
Guernsey aimed for equal adoption rights 13th
Jethou’s tenant fell off his own cliff 14th
Dad’s Army actor John le Mesurier died 15th
A Guernsey recruit regretted signing up 16th
Horticultural painter William Caparne was born 17th
German forces confiscated Guernsey’s radios 18th
A plane crashed on Crevichon 19th
Sark featured in the music charts 20th
Guernsey recruits caused concern in Parliament 21st
First Guernsey competitor took part in Miss World 22nd
A Lancaster bomber crashed on Sark 23rd
Sark women get the right to inherit 24th
Spanish flu arrived on Guernsey 25th
Guernsey held its first full marathon 26th
Admiral Thomas Le Marchant Gosselin died 27th
HMS Boreas sank at Hanois 28th
Radio station Contact 94 went off the air 29th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry memorial was unveiled 30th