Stamps from the occupied Channel Islands | Life

As the German Blitzkrieg passed through northern France in 1940, the Channel Islands were an easy, if not strategic, target for German forces.

Although they are on British soil, the islands are much closer to the French coast than to those of England. In addition, a large part of the population had recently been evacuated and the islands were fully demilitarized. The Luftwaffe and the embarked infantry had only to arrive and claim the islands. It was a propaganda stunt for Hitler to have “conquered” certain British soil. It was also a foreshadowing of what the British people should expect if the Battle of Britain was lost.

The initial German policy was to treat the islanders well, but the characteristics of the Nazi occupation soon emerged – the deportation of Jews and “undesirables” to

concentration camps, importation of

brutally treated slave workers to build fortifications, excessive punishment for breaching increasingly oppressive regulations.

The main difference between the occupied islands and the rest of Nazi-occupied Europe was that the area of ​​the island was small and the number of occupants was relatively large; there were two Germans for every three islanders. This made serious resistance impossible.

A woman caught smearing V for victory over a German sign was sent to die in a camp. Ms. Winifred Green was imprisoned in France for responding to a “Heil Hitler” greeting with “Heil Churchill!” (She survived and called herself “Mrs. Churchill” upon her return.) So sabotage was generally on a subtle level, and stamps became an effective method.

By December 1940, stocks of British 1d stamps were exhausted. A first provisional measure was to allow 2D stamps to be “cut in half” (cut diagonally) to serve as 1D stamps. Then a raw swastika overprint was designed in Jersey to cover the British stamps. At that time, the Bailiff of Jersey still had enough power that Berlin

listen to his complaint about the degradation of the king’s portrait; the stamps were destroyed. What was needed were locally produced stamps.

Guernsey produced the first, with the Germans insisting that there could be no image of the King or of England. Designate

EW Vaudin’s design featured the arms of Guernsey; three heraldic lions on a shield. The Germans never understood that this crest was almost identical to the personal arms of the sovereign of England.

And Vaudin went a little further; he took the dangerous step of adding a little

V in every corner. Once again, the authorities missed the sign that had become a symbol of resistance across Europe.

Jersey followed, copying the Guernsey design that had already been adopted. Now the designer has added his touch. Colonel Norman Rybot, a retired Indian Army officer received the DSO during WWI for his actions in Mesopotamia.

Two years as a prisoner of war in Turkey didn’t make him like being now a virtual prisoner in his Jersey home. His version of the 1 / 2d green had the letters AABB in the corners, which he said represented “Atrocious Adolf Bloody Benito”. The red 1d had AAAA corners, for the Latin “Ad Avernum Adolf Atrox” (“Go to Hell Atrocious Adolf!”) It wasn’t universally known before the war, but I’m sure there were islanders in it. wartime aware, sneering as he posted a letter.

In 1943, the Jersey authorities felt that a more attractive set of island scenes was needed. Again, the stamp designer shot them. Artist Edmund Blampied had good reason to despise the occupiers: his wife Marianne was Jewish. Thus, all six stamps have value digits on inverted Vs. But the 3D “Gathering the Algae” is the bravest; the script initials on either side of the 3 are GR – the monogram of “Georgivs Rex”, King of England.

On January 6, 1943, the field commander gave his formal approval of the designs.

The Channel Islands were bypassed on D-Day and the almost starving inhabitants had to wait for the general surrender of the Germans for their release. A final mailing note – the first site released in Jersey was a radio repeater station.

A Mr. Warden, a postal worker, was tired of waiting for the British troops to land, so he entered the building and told the officer in charge that he was taking them prisoner on behalf of the post. The enemy surrendered. He had to wear his uniform with the really shiny buttons that day.

Gordon Houston is a member of the Penticton Stamp Club and a regular contributor to this Postage Paid column.

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