Testimonies of Guernsey resistance fighters

Testimonies of resistance fighters in Guernsey during World War Two have been revealed by a University of Cambridge research team.

The shocking accounts of Channel Islanders who were sent to German prisons were presented as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas. The documents will help to finally recognise the resistance attempts to sabotage the German occupation.

The documents were obtained when the daughter of Frank Falla (a Guernsian who was imprisoned for resistance activity) responded to a newspaper advertisement by Dr Gilly Carr, University Lecturer in Archaeology.

Falla's daughter handed the Cambridge research team untouched documents from Falla’s bequest. He had compiled nearly 200 pages of testimonies of Channel Islanders who were deported during the war in his life-long quest for recognition for their efforts.

Falla and four others ran the Guernsey Underground Newsletter (GUNS) in which they distributed news from the Allied side to their fellow citizens. Upon getting caught, they were sent to Germany, travelling in cattle trucks under appalling conditions.

One report reads: "While in the trucks we had no sanitation on our journeys and through suffering from starvation and malnutrition, we were forced to bury the many prisoners who died in the trucks." Two of the GUNS members did not survive imprisonment.

Dr Carr explained why research into the Channel Islands resistance has been difficult to conduct: "Researching the resistance in the Channel Islands is still a very difficult and sensitive issue. Not everybody felt that they could afford to defy the Germans at the time and emotions still run deep."

Since the Channel Islands were of no strategic importance, the British government surrendered it to the Germans. Large parts of the Islands were evacuated. Authorities cooperated with the occupiers and the inhabitants have since then been portrayed as collaborators or passive victims of occupation. The discovery of resistance testimonies will help to change the narrative.