8th June 1942

Occupying forces confiscated Guernsey’s radios

German forces on both Guernsey and Jersey allowed the residents to hang on to their radio sets for the first few months of the occupation.

However, that soon changed. After British commandos Hubert Nicolle and James Symes had come ashore to gain information and become trapped on the island (an event that eventually saw Ambrose Sherwill removed as head of the Controlling Committee), the authorities demanded the surrender of every radio on Guernsey.

They collected 8000 sets, but returned them a few months later – in December 1940.

The Germans reconsider

That decision was reversed as the war started to turn against the occupying forces. At that point they wanted to be able to control the flow of news themselves. The Germans were also worried that Britain might try to re-capture the Channel Islands. Doing so would have been a significant public relations triumph and a boost for morale. It would also give Allied forces a convenient staging point from which to mount an invasion of France.

If the allies did want to invade, it was reasoned, they may try to prime the local population. The easiest way to do that would have been by radio. Therefore, on 8 June 1942, notice of an official confiscation of every radio set on either Bailiwick was published in the local papers.

The Germans threatened stiff penalties for those who didn’t comply. Yet, although a lot of radios were handed over, some were kept back. Other residents built their own crystal radios by coiling lengths of thin wire and using telephone earpieces as speakers.

In Protest, Defiance and Resistance in the Channel Islands, Gilly Carr, Paul Sanders and Louise Willmot write:

…almost half of the radios discovered at this later stage of the Occupation were radio detectors (“crystal sets”). These sets became standard after D-Day, once radio signals from liberated France could be picked up at ease. Relatively easy to dissimulate, the recovery of crystal sets was often the result of carelessness.

The most famous use of ilicit radios was the production of GUNS, the Guernsey Underground News Sheet, which was a compilation of the morning’s news from the BBC. A very small number of the sheets was reproduced each day and passed around the island. The originators were betrayed in early 1944 and sent to prison in Germany.

 

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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