Faces of occupied Jersey revealed
Identity cards created during the dark days of Jersey’s Nazi occupation between 1940-1945 have been digitised and made available online for the first time
Thousands of people who lived through the Nazi occupation of Jersey during the Second World War are recorded in a new online release.
Jersey Heritage has scanned thousands of Occupation Registration Cards from its archive collections, providing details of men, women and children who lived on the island after it was invaded by the German forces in June 1940.
Searchable by name, the dataset – which is available to explore at catalogue.jerseyheritage.org – comprises more than 90,000 digital images, providing information about 30,000 people.
Among the famous names included in the records is Peter Crill, who went on to serve as the Bailiff of Jersey between 1986 and 1995.
Aged just 19 years old at the time his registration card was issued (a note on the replacement describes the original as ‘mutilated’), Crill is notable for being one of the few people to successfully escape from Jersey during the Nazi occupation.
In the first week of November 1944, the student lawyer and two friends secretly set out in his family’s 12-foot dinghy, eventually landing on the French mainland at Agon-Coutainville, near Coutances.
Others, however, were not so lucky. Although there was no armed resistance movement on Jersey, more than 2,500 Jersey residents were sentenced for breaking German laws, with some executed or sent to continental prison camps.
Held at Jersey Archive in St Helier, the importance of the collection was recognised in 2011 by its addition to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, meaning it sits alongside the Domesday Book and the Shipyards Collection at Tyne & Wear Archives in terms of international historical significance.
While family historians can search the database for free, scans of the cards can be downloaded for £5 each. Alternatively, users can pay an annual subscription to the website, offering access to thousands of other historic records from the Crown Dependency. This includes parish and court records, as well as documents supplied by private organisations such as Jersey Swimming Club.
In addition to the record releases, the Jersey Heritage website has also undergone a redesign, enabling easier access to information about the island’s history.
“We have an astonishing collection of documents and official records that have until now only been accessible to people who physically visit the Archive,” said Linda Romeril, Head of Archives and Collections at Jersey Heritage.
“Over the past few years we have worked tirelessly to bring that data into the 21st century by digitising it and making it available to search. The project is ongoing and we will be adding more to the resource.”
Above: Islanders celebrate the liberation of Jersey in May 1945 Right: Peter Crill’s identity card