The Channel Islands in The Great War (Hardback)
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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.Old Barbed Wire Blog
Read the full review here
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?”Lucy London War Poets
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.