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The Real Secret Society Of The Occupation

While all the Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Society hid from the Germans was a roasted pig, there were actually many real groups on the island sneaking out past curfew and meeting at covert locations during the Occupation.

A file of papers discovered decades after the war, having spent many years stuffed into a briefcase in the back of a wardrobe, documents the many individuals and groups who worked as part of a secret resistance in the Channel Islands.

Frank Falla who compiled the huge archive of personal accounts, which is currently being studied at Cambridge University, details his own actions during the resistance, along with a group of four friends who created the Guernsey Underground News Service, abbreviated as GUNS.

With radios confiscated and TV forbidden, Islanders were completely cut off from Britain with any information about the progress of the war filtered and distorted by Nazi propaganda. The Guernsey Underground News Service (GUNS) relied on people with secret radios listening carefully to the BBC News and carefully preparing newsletters to covertly distribute the news around the island. These updates of how the war was progressing did much to boost morale in Guernsey during these tough times.

Gilly Carr, the Cambridge University archaeologist who has been given the archive, explains; “Resistance in the Channel Islands was different: it was not organised and was unarmed – individuals and small groups doing small acts of silent and symbolic resistance.”

“There were so many Germans in the islands that people could not organise armed resistance in the same manner as the French, but many of them tried to resist in other ways,”

With little communication from the outside world and an overwhelming enemy population of one soldier for every two civilians, resistance was often through smaller acts of defiance such as collecting and sharing news with neighbours and friends. Some brave locals shouted the news while cycling through town to spread information at a brisk pace, and would have had to make a quick getaway if spotted by a German soldier!

All of the GUNS members were eventually caught and taken to prisons on the continent, where two of them died. Falla survived and returned to Guernsey to eventually compile the huge volume of resistance accounts, which aimed to update the history books on the portrayal of the Channel Islands resistance to the Germans during the war.

Have you seen our dedicated Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society microsite? Discover the story of Occupation in Guernsey alongside the tale from the upcoming film directed by Mike Newell and starring Lily James and Michiel Huisman.