After almost 5 years of occupation by German forces, Jersey was liberated by British troops on 9th May 1945, the day following VE Day, which saw an end to the hostilities of World War II in Europe.
On VE-Day, the German forces agreed to release prisoners and the Bailiff raised the Union flag over the States and Royal Court Building.
This was done after Prime Minister Winston Churchill's speech to the House of Commons had been broadcast live to the Royal Square. A large crowd packed the square for the broadcast and heard Churchill’s famous statement:
The Bailiff, Alexander Coutanche, then announced that the Royal Navy was on its way from the United Kingdom to arrange the surrender of the Islands by the Occupying forces. British troops finally landed in Jersey on 9th May.
Jersey has continued to celebrate Liberation Day annually on 9th May, with celebrations being held in the Parishes and in Liberation Square. An established part of proceedings has been a special meeting of the States Assembly. However, the holding of such a meeting is a comparatively recent occurrence. The tradition began with meetings of the Assembly to mark important anniversaries of the Liberation through messages to the Queen, and developed into the annual meeting of the Assembly that we see today.
During these special meetings, one elected States Member is chosen to deliver a Liberation Day address. The meeting is then followed by a procession of the Bailiff, States Members and other senior officials from the Royal Square to Liberation Square.
Liberation Day Meetings
On 8th May 1985, following the adoption of a proposition from Senator Ralph Vibert, the States transmitted an address to Her Majesty the Queen to mark the 40th anniversary of the Liberation.
“On this special occasion we remember with particular pride and gratitude the gracious message which your late father, His Majesty King George VI, sent to the people of the Channel Islands on 10th May, 1945, welcoming them on their restoration to freedom and to their rightful place with the free nations of the World.”
This was followed by a similar address marking the 50th anniversary of Liberation in 1995, proposed on that occasion by Senator Reg Jeune. At that meeting, the Bailiff informed the Assembly that the gift from La Société Jersiaise of a stone tablet commemorating the Liberation of the Island, previously accepted by the States, had been installed.
Liberation Day Meeting Special Guests
The Liberation Day meetings of the States Assembly are special meetings and the sole item of business is the Liberation Day address of the nominated member. They are attended by His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor and, since 2017, have been transmitted by the Assembly live to Liberation Square and the Weighbridge.
Over the years they have been attended by representatives from many other jurisdictions, including Germany, Madeira, Spain, Portugal, Poland, France, the Isle of Man, Russia, Belarus, the UK and the Cayman Islands.
On occasion, members of the Royal Family have also been in attendance for the Liberation Day celebrations;
2005 – Her Majesty the Queen was in the Island for the 60th Anniversary Liberation Day celebrations. The speech she made in the Island is available here.
2007 – His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent
2015– Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex attended the 70th Anniversary of Liberation Day and delivered a message to the Bailiwick of Jersey from Her Majesty the Queen: