On May the 9th the people of Jersey celebrate the end of the occupation by Nazi Germany during World War II.
It is celebrated as Jersey’s national day. Here are some great photos of the day.
Two naval officers, one of whom was Surgeon Lt Ronald McDonald, were met by the Harbour Master who escorted them to the Harbour Master’s Office where they together hoisted the Union Jack, before also raising it on the flagstaff of the Pomme D’Or Hotel.
This has been re-enacted every year on Liberation Day since 1995. From 2003 to 2011 Harbour Master and Jerseyman Captain Howard Le Cornu performed this annually.
His father John E. Le Cornu and uncle David M. Le Cornu had been in the crowds and had witnessed the occasion on 9 May 1945.
Bank holidays on the ‘Island of Jersey’.
The Public Holidays and Bank Holidays (Jersey) Act 1952 established Liberation Day as a public holiday if it fell on a weekday.
The Public Holidays and Bank Holidays (Jersey) Act 2010 further laid down that Liberation was also to be a public holiday if it falls on a Saturday.
It is not a public holiday, and no day off in lieu is provided, if it falls on a Sunday.
Since the 50th anniversary of Liberation in 1995, a pattern of official ceremonies has developed based in and around Liberation Square in Saint Helier where the events at the Harbour Master’s Office and Pomme D’Or Hotel occurred in 1945.
Following a special sitting of the States of Jersey in the morning, States Members, clergy, the Bailiff of Jersey, the Lieutenant-Governor, Jurats, Crown Officers and other officials process from the Royal Square to Liberation Square accompanied by the Royal Mace and the Bailiff’s Seal.
An open air ecumenical service takes place in Liberation Square followed by the singing of “Man Bieau P’tit Jèrri”/”Beautiful Jersey” (in Jèrriais and English) and a re-enactment of the raising of flags (including that at Fort Regent).
Optomistic Voices will be singing songs of the era.
A parade of vintage and military vehicles, bands and service organisations is reviewed by the official party.
The afternoon community celebrations are of an informal character, including a programme of entertainments and stalls in Saint Helier.
An official ceremony also takes place at the Crematorium where there is a memorial to victims and slave workers of various nationalities. Representatives of affected nationalities take part in the commemoration.
Re enactment of the liberating soldiers
For more information please visit http://www.jersey.com
Saint Helier in the Island of Jersey
(French language: Saint-Hélier, Jèrriais: St Hélyi) is one of the twelve parishes of Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands in the English Channel. St. Helier has a population of about 28,000, roughly 31.2% of the total population of Jersey, and is the capital of the Island (although Government House is situated in St. Saviour). The urban area of the parish of St. Helier makes up most of the largest town in Jersey, although some of the town area is situated in adjacent St. Saviour, with suburbs sprawling into St. Lawrence and St. Clement. The greater part of St. Helier is predominantly rural.
The parish crest is two crossed gold axes on a blue background, symbolising the martyrdom of Helier and the sea.
It is thought that the site of St. Helier was settled at the time of the Roman control of Gaul.
The medieval hagiographies of Helier, the patron saint martyred in Jersey and after whom the parish and town are named, suggest a picture of a small fishing village on the dunes between the marshy land behind and the high-water mark.
Although the Parish Church of St Helier is now some considerable distance from the sea, at the time of its original construction it was on the edge of the dunes at the closest practical point to the offshore islet called the Hermitage (site of Helier’s witness and martyrdom). Before land reclamation and port construction started, boats could be tied up to the churchyard wall on the seaward side.
An Abbey of St. Helier was founded in 1155 on L’Islet, a tidal island adjacent to the Hermitage. Closed at the Reformation, the site of the abbey was fortified to create the castle that replaced Mont Orgueil as the Island’s major fortress. The new Elizabeth Castle was named after the Queen by the Governor of Jersey 1600-1603, Sir Walter Raleigh.
Until the end of the 18th century, the town consisted chiefly of a string of houses, shops and warehouses stretching along the coastal dunes either side of the Church of St. Helier and the adjacent marketplace (since 1751, Royal Square). La Cohue (a Norman word for courthouse) stood on one side of the square, now rebuilt as the Royal Court and States Chamber (called collectively the States Building). The market cross in the centre of the square was pulled down at the Reformation, and the iron cage for holding prisoners was replaced by a prison gatehouse at the western edge of town.
This is Elizabeth Castle, one of the many attractions around the Island of Jersey
Below is the ferry or ‘duck’ as we like to call it, that will take you to the castle when the tide is up.
When the tide is down you can walk but please be careful and check when the tide is coming back in as they can come in quickly and cut you off.
You will need to wear strong shoes to walk as there can be a lot of stones and shells brought in by the tide.
One of the gun emplacements in the Castle.
George II gave £200 towards the construction of a new harbour – previously boats would be beached on a falling tide and unloaded by cart across the sands. A statue of the king (by John Cheere) was erected in the square in 1751 in gratitude, and the market place was renamed Royal Square, although the name has remained Lé Vièr Marchi (the old market) to this day in Jèrriais. Many of St. Helier’s road names and street names are bilingual English/French or English/Jèrriais, some having only one name though, although the names in the various languages are not usually translations: distinct naming traditions survive alongside each other.
The Royal Square was also the scene of the Battle of Jersey on January 6, 1781, the last attempt by French forces to seize Jersey. John Singleton Copley‘s epic painting The Death of Major Pierson captures an imaginative version of the scene.
As harbour construction moved development seaward, a growth in population meant that marshland and pasture north of the ribbon of urban activity was built on speculatively. Settlement by English immigrants added quarters of colonial-style town houses to the traditional building stock.
Continuing military threats from France spurred the construction of a citadel fortress, Fort Regent, on the Mont de la Ville, the crag dominating the shallow basin of St. Helier.
Military roads linking coastal defences around the island with St. Helier harbour had the effect of enabling farmers to exploits Jersey’s temperate micro-climate and get their crops onto new fast sailing ships and then steamships to get their produce into the markets of London and Paris before the competition. This was the start of Jersey’s agricultural prosperity in the 19th century.
From the 1820s, peace with France and better communications enabled by steamships and railways to coastal ports encouraged an influx of English-speaking residents. Speculative development covered the marshy basin north of the central coastal strip as far as the hills within a period of about 40 years, providing the town with terraces of elegant town houses.
In 1855 an obelisk was constructed in Broad Street to commemorate the reformer Pierre Le Sueur, five time elected Constable of St. Helier. The monument was restored in 2005 and the fountains restored to working order.
From the 1820s, peace with France and better communications enabled by steamships and
In the second half of the 19th century, the need to facilitate access to the harbour for hundreds of trucks laden with potatoes and other produce for export prompted a programme of road-widening which swept away many of the ancient buildings of the town centre. Pressure for redevelopment has meant that very few buildings remain in urban St. Helier which date to before the 19th century, giving the town primarily a Regency or Victorian character.
Pierre Le Sueur, reforming Constable of St. Helier, was responsible for installing sewerage and provision of clean water in St. Helier following outbreaks of cholera in the 1830s. An obelisk with fountain in the town centre was raised to his memory following his premature death in office from overwork.
The statue in Liberation Square
In 1995, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jersey being liberated from Nazi occupation, and thus 50 years of peace, a sculpture was erected in what is now called Liberation Square, in front of the Pomme d’Or Hotel, the focal point for the celebrations when the island was originally liberated.
The sculpture was originally to depict islanders releasing doves of peace, but this came under fierce criticism, with some islanders remarking that had any doves been on the island during the occupation, they would have been eaten by starving German soldiers. Therefore the sculpture was revised to show islanders raising the British flag, as they had done on the day of liberation 50 years previous.
Liberation Square is now a focal point in the town – the former terminus of the Jersey Railway housed the Jersey Tourism office until 2007.