Page last updated at 20:24 GMT, Monday, 9 May 2005 21:24 UK

Royals mark islands' liberation

The Queen's visit was deemed the 'icing on the cake' by Jersey's Bailiff

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have joined Channel Islanders to celebrate 60 years since the islands were freed from Nazi occupation.

The islands, off the French coast, were the only part of the British Isles to fall into Nazi hands in World War II.

The Queen visited Guernsey before moving to Jersey, meeting people who lived through the occupation on both islands, as well as military veterans.

The visit comes the day after the UK commemorated VE Day's 60th anniversary.

More than 700 schoolchildren welcomed the Royal party at Guernsey airport on Monday morning.

The Queen was presented to the Lieutenant Governor, Sir John Foley, and island Bailiff, Sir de Vic Carey [president of the Guernsey government's States assembly], as well as other local dignitaries.

She unveiled a 60th anniversary commemorative stone at the Weighbridge roundabout and met crowds on the seafront before heading for Jersey.

We were heroes
Ronald McDonald

While at Jersey's Liberation Square in the island's capital, St Helier, the Queen said: "None of us, young or old, should allow ourselves to forget the sacrifices and the suffering of those long years.

"But I think all of us can be heartened by the efforts which have been made in recent times to promote reconciliation, tolerance and forgiveness."

The Queen met veterans of the occupation, including some of the more than 2,000 islanders who were deported to camps by the Germans.

Raymond Hannaford, 80, told the royal visitor how he was arrested in 1942 for taking part in an anti-Nazi demonstration in Jersey's capital, St Helier.

He showed the Queen his photograph taken by the Nazis at Laufen Camp in Germany.

Tanks on Jersey replay the liberation of the Channel Islands
More than 2,000 people were deported during the occupation
"I was 17 at the time and the Germans interrogated me, asking me where the others were who took part in the demonstration - but I didn't give away anything," he said.

Sir Philip Bailhache, Jersey's Bailiff, said the Royal visit was the "icing on the cake" of the Liberation Day celebrations, which had been months in the planning.

As part of the celebrations on Jersey, the Red Arrows carried out flying displays and military vehicles recreated the moment British landing craft arrived on the island.

The islands were abandoned by the British after the then prime minister, Winston Churchill, considered them to be indefensible.

British troops were withdrawn and the Germans invaded in June and July 1940.

The islands remained occupied until the British took them back on 9 May 1945 - a day after VE day. They were bypassed on D-Day.

Then a Royal Navy surgeon lieutenant, Ronald McDonald unfurled the first Union flag Jersey had seen for five years.

Food shortages

He said of the occasion: "I cast it down from the top of a building. Down it opened and then the crowd in the square in front all shouted as if Arsenal had scored a goal in the cup final.

"We were heroes then."

During the five years of occupation, thousands were deported - including the islands' small Jewish population - German currency was circulated, curfews imposed, radios confiscated and forbidden and the population issued with identity cards.

Towards the end of the occupation, food shortages had worsened and many islanders faced starvation.

The Red Cross ship Vega brought life-saving supplies in December 1944 and made five further trips, bringing food parcels.

After liberation, about 4,000 German prisoners of war were kept on Jersey to help with clean-up operations.

The following month, on June 7, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Jersey - the first Royal visit since 1921.

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World War II survivors recall Guernsey liberation


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