Alfred Le Monnier remembers the days of the German Occupation of Jersey. He also remembers the nights. St. John Ambulance members kept midnight hours: nursing at hospitals and guarding precious food stores. One task Alfred will never forget is the night he escorted British deportees to St. Malo.
What did you do ?
“Every organisation had to hand theiruniforms over to the [German] headquarters.
Dr. Hanna went up to see the Commander in Charge of the German forces at that time. Asked if we could go in a white band with a Red Cross. And he gave us permission. We could carry on training.
We were the only body, [in addition to] the police, allowed to wear uniforms. Provided we wore that Red Cross band.
And then [St. John] asked for more volunteers….But we couldn’t provide them with uniforms. They managed to get belts, water bottles, haversacks…and the Red Cross on the white badge. I suppose we finished up at the end with about fifteen men.”
Any special memories?
“The first job that I can remember…and I’ll never forget this one:
I said, ‘I know that, but I’m still going on.’
It was a night I’ll never forget. ‘Cause we left under cover of darkness. Two boats from Jersey. Went out and met a couple a boats from Guernsey.
That was the first big duty that I personally did.”
Listen to Alfred Le Monnier’s story
The emblem of a red cross on a white background was first legally recognised in 1864 in the original Geneva Convention. It is a sign of neutrality and protection for the sick and wounded in war, and for those officially authorised to care for them. It may only be displayed on vehicles, aircraft, ships, buildings and installations assigned to transport and shelter the wounded, or worn by the authorised personnel who assist them. Red Cross organisations, such as the British Red Cross, are allowed to use the emblem, together with their name, to identify their premises, vehicles, equipment and personnel. Since 1929 the red crescent emblem has also been officially recognised for these same humanitarian purposes. Find out more about German Occupation of the Channel Islands.
The Joint War Organisation also ran an escort service where invalids or casualties arriving from overseas were accompanied to a hospital as near their home as possible. The service was originally for Army patients, but was soon extended to RAF patients, patients from naval hospitals, and shipwrecked, sick and wounded merchant seamen arriving at ports and airports.
In September 1942 it was announced that all British-born Islanders would be deported to Germany – nearly 1,200 men, women and children. In February 1943 a further 350 were deported. They found themselves in camps such as Biberach, Wurzach and Laufen in southern Germany.