4th June 1944

GUNS writer Joseph John Gillingham was deported

Joseph John Gillingham was deported from Guernsey less than a year before the island’s eventual liberation. Within 10 months, he had died, without ever seeing his island home set free.

Gillingham had been helping to write and distribute GUNS, the Guernsey Underground News Sheet. Comprising news copied down after listening to the BBC – an activity that was strictly forbidden by the German occupiers – the sheet told Guernsey residents the truth about the war, rather than the propaganda-laden version the Germans wanted to put about.

Gillingham passed the news to Charles Machon, who worked at The Star, where it would be reproduced in very small number. A hand-to-hand and mouth-to-mouth network then saw it distributed around the island – and even as far as Sark.

Betrayal and discovery

The team behind GUNS, which also included Frank Falla, who writes in detail about its production in his book, The Silent War, was informed upon and arrested by the German authorities. They each received various sentences for what they had done, with Gillingham committed to 10 months’ imprisonment.

The official notification of the sentence listed his crime as “failing to deliver a wireless set and contiannly (sic) listening in common to prohibited broadcasts under Par. 22, 12 of the Order of the Mil. Bef. Frankenfeich dated 18.12.44”. A little over a month after receiving his sentence, he was deported to Germany.

He survived his time in prison and was theoretically “released” at the end of his sentence in February 1945. Those who had been imprisoned with him were told he was going to an internment camp, but a subsequent investigation discovered that he was actually taken to another prison in Halle. He died there on 11 March 1945 and was buried in Halle cemetery.

 

FREE Guernsey history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Guernsey's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want. We'll also keep you up to date with our latest book releases and early-bird discounts.

 

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