“Everyone knew they’d be coming… England sent ships, to take the children off. When the Germans landed a few days later, we were only half here. Our hearts were elsewhere.”
Civilians queuing in June 1940 waiting to board the boats at St Peter Port harbour. Courtesy of The Priaulx Library & Occupation Archive
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Evacuation took place amidst chaos and panic. With much misinformation, opinion was divided on whether it was best to remain or flee. To add to the confusion, each Island’s government had a difference of opinion on what course to take; authorities in Alderney recommended all islanders evacuate while people in Sark were encouraged to stay.

An eyewitness account of the evacuation - Irene Moss
  • Eyewitness Irene Moss
  • Evacuation Memoirs
  • Eyewitness Mavis Brown

The Evacuees

In Guernsey, evacuation began with the children. On 19 June, parents were told to register their children for evacuation and prepare to say goodbye the next morning. Following this initial boat party, the government realised (too late) that it would be impossible to evacuate all those wishing to leave. Evacuation boats were still departing St Peter Port when the German air force attacked. Four fifths of the children and almost half Guernsey's population managed to leave for England.