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Occupation survivors gather for annual Liberation Day breakfast

Occupation survivors gather for annual Liberation Day breakfast

Tuesday 09 May 2023

Occupation survivors gather for annual Liberation Day breakfast

Tuesday 09 May 2023

Amidst coffee, bacon rolls and the sounds of the 1940’s humming in the background, islanders gathered in the town hall to celebrate the annual Liberation Day breakfast.

Held every year, it's a chance for islanders who lived "under the jackboot" to reminisce and reflect on a period that still looms large in many of their lives.

Eileen Attenborough, 85, was only two years old when the Germans first arrived.

She said: "I don't remember much about the beginning, but I've got this idea of how deprived we were. I've got a vision, I don't know why, across the road from my granny's house there was a shop and it was full of potatoes. And there was a German walking up and down, I can still see it now, with his gun to stop anybody breaking in and stealing them."


Pictured: Islanders who lived through the Occupation come together each year to reminisce and reflect on a period that still looms large in many of their lives.

Despite being so young during the war, the occupation made quite an impression on her.

"About 15 years ago my granddaughter was here and we were sitting on the beach at Corbière and these two German soldiers walked up the causeway. They were making a film I think and it really got to me, they were in full uniform with guns and everything. It just brought me right back."

During the Liberation, Eileen stood outside the Pomme D'Or with her mother and watched the British soldiers parade up from the Pier.

"They were giving out sweets and oranges, we'd never seen anything like it before!" she said.

The Pomme D'Or plays a central part in 88-year-old Trisha Collenette's memories of that day as well. She was on her way to Commercial Buildings with her parents as she passed the hotel.

She explained: "We could see that the Germans had enough. Some of the naval group were stationed at the Pomme D'Or and at the back of the hotel they were throwing their clothes and mattresses out the window."

Despite being a young girl when the Germans first arrived in 1940, she distinctly remembers her grandmother getting on the wrong side of the invaders when she refused to haul out the white flag.

Trisha said: "My grandmother lost her husband in the first world war, and so she wouldn't do it. The Germans came banged at the door with their rifles. They said to her about the flag and she said: 'I'm not putting it out for you so and so's.' They said we'll shoot if you don't put it out. So she did! She was absolutely terrified."

She too remembers the joy of being liberated: "It was such a delight to see a different coloured uniform. They were throwing sweets and ciggies! It was really marvellous."


Pictured: Jean McLaughlin was one of the islanders who attended the Liberation Day breakfast this morning.

Dermot Curry, 95, was a teenager when the island was finally liberated.

On Liberation Day, he recalls that the Tommies were hungry for souvenirs.

He said: 'So I said ok, I went and got a rifle, and 500 rounds of dummy ammunition, and one of them gave me a pack of cigarettes!"

However, chief among his memories is simply the feeling of finally getting enough to eat.

Dermot explained: "I think people were happy enough during the Occupation, but the thing is you were always hungry all the time. During the war the main worry was when am I going to get something to eat, because you were always hungry.

"After the liberation, it was strange because you could have as much as you could eat!"

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