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The Channel Islands in The Great War (Hardback)

Local History WWI British History Home Front in WWI Towns & Cities in the Great War 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 Military

By Stephen Wynn
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Towns & Cities in the Great War
Pages: 184
ISBN: 9781783463305
Published: 6th February 2019

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The Channel Islands, while nearer to France than the UK, enjoy a unique constitution being subject to the Crown but not Parliament (they are a 'Royal Peculiar'). While the population are not obliged to fight unless the Islands are threatened, over 8,000 Islanders served King and Country. Of these one-fifth never returned – the highest fatality rate of any area of Great Britain.

In addition, 2000 French residents were conscripted into the French Army. Pre 1914 large numbers had settled in Canada to pursue fishing, boat building and farming. Yet more fought with the Canadian Army.

The departure of so many men had a serious affect on agriculture and potato growing in particular which had both an economic impact and caused shortages for export to GB.

We learn how defences were established to prevent invasion which was a real threat. The French developed a large seaplane base in Guernsey as part of the anti-U-boat war. A POW camp was built and, despite being unusually luxurious, many Germans attempted to escape.

The book covers the social changes that war brought; in particular the work of women both on the mainland and in voluntary services in France and at home. Many interesting characters emerge; Prince Blucher who owned the island of Herm and whose son served in the Guernsey Militia, the Dame of Sark's service in the VAD; Lawrence of Arabia; Elinor Glyn, socialite and sex symbol, became war correspondent for the News of the World.

Twenty-two years later the Channel Islands saw war at first hand an a former German POW became the first Kommandant.

The author paints a varied tableau of events and personalities in what is a fascinating and never previously told story.

An excellent book full of facts and figures on the considerable contribution made by Channel Islanders’ service in the Armed Forces during the Great War, including a chapter on Red Cross nurses. There is much detail on the two Battalions of the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry, including a Roll of Honour.

Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum

Stephen Wynn’s superb account of the Channel Islands from the outbreak of hostilities in 1914 is essential reading for social historians and occupants of the islands.

Books Monthly

I really enjoyed the passion and dedication with which Wynn wrote about women and men who lived and died 100 years ago, it is thanks to the work of people like him that these names will never be forgotten.

Read the full review here

Old Barbed Wire Blog

Some really good content on a lesser known unit: Royal Guernsey Light Infantry. Good context of the role of the Islands in the war too.

Paul Reed via Twitter

Stephen Wynn gives detailed biographical information about many of those from the Channel Islands who were involved in WW1. He mentioned that in his opinion there is sufficient material about the Women of the Channel Islands in the Great War to merit another book and I do hope that comes to fruition. With illustrations throughout and an index, Stephen’s book is a fitting tribute to the men and women of the Channel Islands during the First World War. He also raises an interesting question in the final chapter of the book – “what criteria was used to decide who should be included as a casualty of war?”

I found a great deal of interesting facts for my weblogs and Facebook pages and will spread the word about this book which is a must for anyone interested in the history of the First World War.

Lucy London War Poets

About Stephen Wynn

Stephen is a retired police officer having served with Essex Police as a constable for thirty years between 1983 and 2013. He is married to Tanya and has two sons, Luke and Ross, and a daughter, Aimee. His sons served five tours of Afghanistan between 2008 and 2013 and both were injured. This led to the publication of his first book, Two Sons in a Warzone – Afghanistan: The True Story of a Father’s Conflict, published in October 2010. Both Stephen’s grandfathers served in and survived the First World War, one with the Royal Irish Rifles, the other in the Mercantile Marine, whilst his father was a member of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps during the Second World War.


When not writing Stephen can be found walking his three German Shepherd dogs with his wife Tanya, at some unearthly time of the morning, when most normal people are still fast asleep.

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