New and previously unrecorded first-person accounts of Liberation Day in 1945 have been made available by Jersey Heritage to mark the 75th anniversary celebrations this weekend.
A series of six short films containing the interviews explore what freedom means today and consider the importance of keeping alive the memory of this momentous time in the Island’s history.
The ‘Liberation Shorts’ are available to view in the ‘Heritage at Home’ hub on Jersey Heritage’s website. Other new content includes four new Jersey Heritage TV features; a webinar about Liberation Day for primary schoolchildren; an online exhibition of previously unseen archives from the Liberation; and a short film about Occupation and Liberation postage stamps.
A rare one-minute colour film of British troops arriving in Jersey on 9 May 1945 will also go live on the website on Liberation Day itself to mark the special anniversary.
Louise Downie, Jersey Heritage’s Director of Curation & Experience, said: “We had to rethink how to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Jersey being liberated from Occupying forces, due to the current circumstances with the Coronavirus pandemic. We’ve created a section of our website that is dedicated to Lib 75 and it has a host of content to help people mark this momentous time in Jersey’s history. They can listen to previously unrecorded memories of the day; watch new features about Liberation; enjoy a lesson about 9 May 1945 with their children; learn about how stamps were used for passive resistance; or watch rare colour footage from the day, plus much more.”
The ‘Liberation Shorts’ were inspired by Jersey Heritage’s new exhibition ‘A Day to Remember – Liberation 75’, which will open at Jersey Museum & Art Gallery later this year and is sponsored by Alex Picot Trust and supported by the Bailiff of Jersey and Jersey Heritage Patrons and Benefactors.
The Jersey Heritage TV features look at the planning and execution of Operation Nestegg – the military re-occupation of the Channel Islands – to the aftermath of the German Occupation. They include interviews with those who were there and film and photographs from the Jersey Evening Post and Channel Television, which are now in the care of Jersey Heritage.
The features were put together by documentary-maker and former CTV journalist Alastair Layzell, who said: “The richness of the Jersey Heritage collections, and the support of staff at ITV Channel Television and the JEP, has allowed us to assemble a comprehensive view of Liberation – as seen by eyewitnesses. Many are no longer with us but their contribution to history is now embedded on Jersey Heritage TV and protected for the future.”
The short webinar about Liberation for primary schoolchildren has been put together by Helen Otterwell, Jersey Heritage’s Learning & Engagement Manager. It focuses on the lead-up to 9 May 1945 and what actually happened in the Channel Islands so that British Troops could ensure the safe liberation of the islands from five years of Occupation.
The online exhibition of previously unseen archives from the Liberation gives first-hand accounts of what happened in the Island and the feelings and thoughts of those involved. It includes official documents of the Bailiff, Alexander Coutanche; plans for retaking the Channel Islands from Brigadier Snow, the commanding officer of Force 135; and personal documents, images and descriptions from both Islanders and the liberating forces.
The short film about Occupation and Liberation postage stamps is called ‘Symbols, Ciphers & Celebration’. It looks at the design of stamps during the Occupation years and the part that passive resistance played in their conception, and the design process behind six new Lib 75 commemorative stamps, which will be released this Saturday (9th).
Chris Elligott, Philatelic Design and Production Manager from Jersey Post, said: “Seventy-five years after the momentous events of May 1945 we wanted the stamp issue to commemorate the still huge importance of the Island’s national day to the people of Jersey. Creating illustrations with echoes of 1940s poster style, the stamps show how the liberation is still celebrated by the people of Jersey; of course the formal ceremonies and re-enactments, but also the spirit and joy of the gift of freedom that our community is so fortunate to cherish today.”
The rare colour footage of the first moments of Liberation in 1945, captured by Dr Mortimer (Morty) Evans and supplied courtesy of the ITV Archive (Channel TV), will go live on the Jersey Heritage website on Liberation Day to mark the special anniversary.
Morty used a Cine-Kodak 16mm camera to record the arrival of the advance party of Liberation Force 135 at the New North Quay, and the joyous reception that they received from hordes of Islanders on the morning of 9 May 1945. To date, this precious footage is the only known colour sequence recorded on Liberation Day.