Western Europe 1939-1945: Invasion

How worried was Britain about invasion 1940-41?

Extract from a report about the German occupation of Jersey, June 29th 1940

Catalogue ref: FO 371/24392

Extract from report on German occupation of Jersey, 1940: FO 371/24392

Extract from report on German occupation of Jersey, 1940: FO 371/24392

Extract from report on German occupation of Jersey, 1940: FO 371/24392

Extract from report on German occupation of Jersey, 1940: FO 371/24392

Extract from report on German occupation of Jersey, 1940: FO 371/24392

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What is this source?

This source is an extract from a Foreign Office report based on information obtained some French men who escaped to England in late June 1940.

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These men escaped from France to join French forces based in England. People in Jersey helped them to escape.


What’s the background to this source?

In May 1940 German forces drove British armies out of France. France surrendered on June 21st 1940. This left the Channel Islands in a very vulnerable position. Britain initially planned to defend the islands but then changed the decision. Islanders were given a choice of occupation or evacuation. The Channel Islands were invaded on June 30th 1940 and remained in German hands until May 9th 1945. It was the only part of the United Kingdom to fall into German hands.

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The German forces allowed the existing government of the islands to continue, but with very limited powers. A large military build up took place on the islands in case Britain should try to take them back. Slave labour from Eastern Europe was used to build huge fortifications. In the event, the D-Day landings of 1944 bypassed the islands and left the German forces there isolated.


It’s worth knowing that...

The Channel Islands suffered all of the same restrictions and hardships that other occupied territories endured. Anti-semitic propaganda and measures were introduced. Censorship and curfews were enforced. Any kind of resistance was severely punished.

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In 1942 all those not born on the islands, and also men who had served as officers in World War I, were deported to camps in Germany. There has been some controversy over the island government’s policy of passive co-operation, and some aspects of the occupation are still sensitive issues today.


What level of alert should Britain be on?

  1. Would you say the men were likely to give the British reliable information?
  2. What useful information did the three men provide?
  3. What aspects of the German occupation of Jersey would either worry or comfort the British?
  4. What level of alert would you put Britain on as a result of studying this evidence?

Record your answer in your threat level table you can always change your mind as you study other sources.