22nd July 1969

Guernsey Controlling Committee’s Sir John Leale died

The Reverend Sir John Leale was the second president of Guernsey’s Controlling Committee during the Second World War. He took over after Ambrose Sherwill was removed from the post by the occupying forces.

Born in St Sampson in 1892, he died in St Peter Port, aged 77, on 22 July 1969. As well as leading the Controlling Committee, Leale had served as a Jurat of the Royal Court of Guernsey. He had also been a Methodist minister, in which capacity he served in Manchester following his graduation from Cambridge University. He was knighted in 1945.

Finding a balance

In his position as head of the Controlling Committee, Leale would have faced some difficult decisions when demands were made of him by the occupying forces. When the States of Guernsey released some of its wartime archives in 1993, they revealed that Leale had handed over a list of Jews living on Guernsey in November 1940. The list had been drawn up by the police on the orders of the Bailiff, Victor Carey.

“Mr Carey passed the inspector’s report to the Rev John Leale, president of the Controlling Committee of the States of Guernsey, the civilian body administering the island under the occupation,” reported The Times in 1993. “The names were forwarded to field command headquarters the same day.”

Three Jewish women were deported from Guernsey and died at Auschwitz.

“John Leale was regarded on the island as highly competent and business-like,” reported The Guardian, also in 1993. “He took absolute integrity as his watch-word, according to a local biographer.”

Lasting respect

Leale’s approach to the occupation was one of passive compliance in the interest of not making things more difficult for the island’s residents. He was highly regarded by many by the time the war drew to a close.

Leale even makes an appearance in The Book of Ebenezer Le Page:

He wasn’t warm and loveable as Ambrose [Sherwill] was, nor as reckless, but he was a truly honourable man… [He] wasn’t a man who liked wars, or wanted wars; and he didn’t want us to hate anybody, not even the Germans: but he was like steel in his quiet way to get out of them all he thought was fair for them to let us have. When I think of those who was the heads of Guernsey during the Occupation, I am proud to be a Guernseyman…

Sir John Leale Avenue in St Sampson is named after him. Sir John Leale House was once the headquarters of Guernsey Post.


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Other events that occured in July

Guernseyman Edward Tupper killed by cannibals 1st
Alderney is occupied by German forces 2nd
Seigneur of Sark, Michael Beaumont, dies aged 88 3rd
Guernsey hosted the Island Games 2003 closing ceremony 4th
New coins are minted for Guernsey 5th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Museum opens 6th
Victor Hugo statue is unveiled in Candie Gardens 7th
First Commando raid of the Second World War 8th
Birth of Sark-based writer Mervyn Peake 9th
Guernsey nurses go on hunger strike 10th
ITV broadcasts first episode of Island at War 11th
A Guernsey man posted himself to Sark 12th
Murderer Peter Robin sentenced to death 13th
Victor Hugo plants his United States of Europe oak 14th
Point Law runs aground off Alderney 15th
Racing yacht Westward is blown up off Guernsey
BBC made its first ever Channel Islands broadcast 16th
The Star received some “grave” news 17th
The Guernsey Martyrs were burned at the stake 18th
Prince Charles and Camilla visit Guernsey 19th
President Garcia is re-floated in Saints Bay 20th
Typhoid suspect holidaymaker flies home 21st
Guernsey Controlling Committee’s Sir John Leale died 22nd
Alderney to Guernsey radio connection established 23rd
Val des Terres was first opened for traffic 24th
The BBC broadcasts from Sark for the first time 25th
Guernsey court escapee was caught again 26th
Braye du Valle was gifted by the crown 27th
Murderer sentenced to death in three hours 28th
Guernsey bought Herm from the mainland 29th
Albert Lamy appointed Guernsey Police Chief Officer 30th
Guernsey to Jersey plane crashed into the sea 31st