9th August 1940
The RAF bombed Guernsey Airport
It wasn’t only the Luftwaffe that bombed Guernsey early in the Second World War. German planes attacked St Peter Port harbour immediately before the Occupation, unaware that the Channel Islands had been demilitarised and partly evacuated. However, just a few months into the occupation, the RAF struck back.
The British goal seems not to have been to re-take the islands, but to degrade the German resources – and possibly morale.
The bombing took place at the height of the Battle of Britain, which was Germany’s most determined effort to invade the United Kingdom. Its bombers were conducting raids around the clock between mid-July and the end of October 1940.
The RAF’s raid on Guernsey Airport, which had opened for business just a couple of months before the war had begun, took place in broad daylight and had been concentrated on the south-west side of the aerodrome. This would have put the focus between where the Guernsey Aero Club now meets and the Route de Plaisance.
Bombing… then surveying the damage
The British aircraft had to return the following day to see what effect the action had had. When they flew over for a second time, they saw that a large proportion of the German places that had been stationed there had since been removed. There had initially been between 40 and 50 aircraft at the airport, according to a report in The Scotsman the following Monday, of which there was now no sign.
The raids were repeated two further times. By the third day, Allied aircraft were encountering no resistance from German forces, and the smoke from the bombing runs was visible from 20 miles away.
The RAF left Guernsey alone for two years after these raids on the airport, not returning until January 1942. On the 17th of that month, they carried out daylight bombing raids on ships in St Peter Port harbour and on the harbour structure itself. They also targeted anti-aircraft positions and a square in which German soldiers were carrying out a drill.