25th August 1945
The post-Occupation military government was disbanded
The Channel Islands’ political recovery from the Occupation of the Second World War was swift, even if the physical scars of the Germans’ extended visit remain. After 90 days of direct British military rule, the interim military governments of Guernsey and Jersey handed control back to the people. Civil service staff resumed the roles they had held before the start of the war.
Guernsey’s new Lieutenant-Governor, Major-General Philip Neame VC, arrived on the morning of the 25th August 1945 as the king’s representative on the island. He had travelled from the mainland on a destroyer, the Brocklesbye, and arrived at St Peter Port just before noon with his family.
The guns that the German forces had installed at Castle Cornet were fired in his honour, while, on Jersey, Sir Arthur Edward Grasett was sworn in as his equivalent on that island.
Their effective predecessor, Brigadier AE Snow, who had accepted the Germans’ surrender, had diligently continued in his role as head of government until the very last moment. Just the night before handing back control, he had got into diving gear so he could check the progress of repairs being made to St Peter Port harbour to fix the damage caused by the German invaders.
The civilian government had a difficult rebirth. One of its first tasks was to work out how it would repay its war debt to the mainland. This was set at £7m, including around £1.5m that would be needed to rebuild damaged and destroyed property on Guernsey. There would be no money to compensate anyone who had suffered financially or lost their homes as a result of the war.
At the time, this was an extraordinary sum of money, and the States had no choice but to introduce higher rates of income tax. Before the war, earnings had been taxed at just 10.5 pence in the pound which, with 240 pennies in an old pound, was a rate of just over 4%.
Jurat John Leale, president of the Finance Committee, said that islanders would just have to grit their teeth and bear it, as they had done through five years of occupation. Leale had previously headed Guernsey’s Controlling Committee through most of the war.