Many inhabitants of that island did not die of hunger thanks to these heroes

The 'Robin Hoods' of Guernsey: the story of the British policemen who robbed the nazis

During World War II, Germany did not manage to invade the United Kingdom, but it did take over several islands belonging to the British Crown.

The interior of two well-preserved Third Reich batteries on a British island
The figures of the American and British aid that prevented the defeat of the USSR in the WWII

The only British territories occupied by Nazi Germany

These five islands (Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm) are known as the Channel Islands and are located near the French coast of Normandy. Since the Middle Ages they have had a special status, since they are territories of the British Crown that were never incorporated into the United Kingdom, like the Isle of Man, in the Irish Sea.

The resistance efforts of the Guernsey policemen

At the start of the German invasion of these islands, the States of Guernsey Police Service had 33 members: an inspector, a sub-inspector, seven sergeants and 24 constables. At the start of the war, Inspector Sculpher advised the policemen not to leave the island to enlist in the British Army, so they all remained on Guernsey to continue doing their jobs. Their situation under German occupation affected the morale of the agents, since among other things they were obliged to give the military salute to the Wehrmacht officers.

Members of the Guernsey Police Service in a 1936 photo (Source: BBC News)

Despite their status as police officers, some of the agents began to collaborate in resistance actions. These actions included cutting telephone wires to sabotage the occupants' communications, stealing fuel from German vehicles, throwing sand into the tanks of those vehicles to immobilize them, and also painting V letters (the symbol of victory promoted by British propaganda to raise morale) throughout the island.

Stealing food from Germans so their neighbors wouldn't starve

In the winter of 1940-1941, food rationing imposed by the occupiers began to cause serious problems for the islanders. While many Guernseys were starving, the Germans had stockpiles of food for their troops for All the island. Some Guernsey policemen began to steal this food to distribute to the civilian population. In the winter of 1941-1942, hunger among the civilian population on the island worsened, and by then virtually all of the Guernsey policemen were involved in stealing food from the occupants. Finally, two of the officers were caught by the Germans stealing food on the night of March 4-5, 1942. During the investigation 17 police officers were arrested, tortured and forced to sign false statements written in German.

The arrested policemen were tried by a German military court. The Guernsey authorities asked the detainees to plead guilty to the charges so that the Germans would allow them to also be tried by the Guernsey Royal Court, a British court, with the promise that all charges would be dropped after the war. The police did so, without taking into account that the Royal Court acted in those years following the dictates of the occupants.

A Guernsey policeman (left) during a German parade on the island (Source: Guernsey Press).

The great injustice they suffered upon their return to the island

Of the 17 detainees, 16 were deported to prisons and forced labor camps, suffering terrible conditions and all kinds of mistreatment. One of them, Herbert Smith, died in captivity. Another of them, Charles Friend, weighed only 45 kg when he was released by the Americans, unable to walk. In 1945, the surviving policemen returned to Guernsey intending to return to their posts, but were unable to. They were prevented from regaining their police status by the authorities due to the conviction handed down by the Guernsey Royal Court Against them. They couldn't even claim a pension. For many years, several of them sued in court, unsuccessfully, to clear their names and get their jobs back.

Today, all those police officers have died, but the families of the officers continue to fight for justice, since the unjust sentence against them, handed down as a result of confessions obtained through coercion and torture by the Germans. Two years ago the BBC and other British media echoed the case, describing those policemen as the "Robin Hood" of Guernsey. Their last hope is to get a royal pardon signed by Queen Elizabeth II. It would be a way to repair, 77 years later, an injustice committed with some agents who acted as heroes to prevent their neighbors from dying of hunger.

The Youtube channel Simple History has published an animated video telling the history of these agents:



Main photo: Ullstein Bild. A British policeman talking to a German soldier in Guernsey in August 1940.

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