I couldn’t visit Jersey without going to see the Jersey War Tunnels. And with all the WWII anniversaries this year, it was a chance for me to be part of that history. I hadn’t realised that Churchill made the decision not to defend the Channel Islands during WWII, or that the Germans had occupied Jersey for five long years.
The Jersey War Tunnels were built during this time by forced and slave workers from nations across Europe. These extraordinary tunnels, dug deep into the hillside, run over 1 km in length. Nowadays, the tunnels are a museum to the occupation and a tribute to the people of Jersey who suffered terribly under the Nazi regime.
Even although the islanders were starving, they still resisted the occupiers and were determined to remain part of the British Isles. I discovered their brave V-for-Victory campaign in which the islanders painted British victory signs on doors, gateposts and walls under the noses of the Germans.
But it was their day to day survival that stood out to me.
Looking at the children’s shoes repaired with car tyres and the tiny portions of food that were their daily ration made me very glad to be alive today.
This is history brought to life in a very dramatic way and I have to confess that I was searching for the tissues at the bottom of my bag as I left the tunnel. Go and see for yourself you’ll no doubt be as moved as I was.