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How one islander hid a radio inside a walnut...

How one islander hid a radio inside a walnut...

Monday 08 May 2023

How one islander hid a radio inside a walnut...

Monday 08 May 2023

Whilst the island was occupied, German forces outlawed the use of radio sets and handed out punishments to anyone caught breaking the rules – forcing islanders to become very creative about where they hid their radios.

Many islanders, struggling with the lack of news about the progress of the war, risked imprisonment by keeping radio sets and listening to broadcasts during this time.

This meant that people got creative when attempting to conceal their radios, shown by a walnut shell which hides parts of a crystal radio!

This inventive little radio was created by Bernard Holley, who left school at the age of 14 years old and began working as an apprentice at W.H. Cole’s wireless shop on Halkett Place, St Helier, in 1938.


Pictured: Bernard Holley's registration card. (Jersey Heritage)

This was his first job, and would end up being his only job, as he worked there for 65 years.

In the early years of the Occupation, islanders were able to keep their wireless sets. However, in June 1942, the occupying forces ordered that all wirelesses had to be handed in.

Mr Cole’s wireless shop remained open during the Occupation, but only two employees were retained. Mr Holley worked alone in the shop’s service department taking charge of all wireless repairs.

When wirelesses had to be handed over, staff at Cole’s only handed in those that were old and obsolete, hiding many of their better wireless sets under floorboards in the workshop and in the shop’s plinth.

On one occasion, German soldiers carried out a search of the shop premises but fortunately did not find any of the sets that had been hidden. If they had, Mr Holley may have ended up in prison, or worse. Although the shop could no longer sell radios, staff continued with electrical work. 


Pictured: This walnut shows how creative islanders got when attempting to conceal their radios, with the shell hiding parts of a crystal radio.

For the remainder of the Occupation, Mr Holley would covertly help islanders with repairing their hidden wireless sets so that they could continue to listen to news about the progress of the war.

Sometimes customers would bring their wireless sets directly to the shop, via the back door in Waterloo Lane. On other occasions, Mr Holley would travel to people’s houses across the island to repair their ‘sewing machines’.

Mr Holley estimated that the shop produced about 90 crystal radio sets for customers during the Occupation, and these were delivered across the island. It was a huge risk to deliver these wireless sets and on one occasion, Mr Holley came very close to being stopped and searched whilst carrying out a delivery. 

Mr Holley went on to become a partner in the renamed Cole’s Television Services and worked there until he retired in 2002.

He died in 2011 at age 87.

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Posted by Martin on
Hiding a radio within a walnut is quite clever but many of our ex Ministers did just that with their brains?
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