Guernsey / Landmark
Herm Island, one of the Islands of Guernsey, was initially left unoccupied by German forces. It was later claimed by the Third Reich on July 20 1940 and used as a training ground for practise landings from barges in preparation for the invasion of England.
Officers used the Island for shooting wild game and training, and by the end of the Occupation there was only one Guernsey family living there, Mr & Mrs Le Page and a housekeeper. An anti-aircraft gun crew that had been stationed in Herm had been removed to Guernsey sometime in early April 1945.
11 days prior to the final liberation of the Islands in May 1945, a German officer, Baron Von Heldorf, was exiled to Herm from Guernsey and resided in Herm Manor House for a brief time. Baron Von Heldorf had been Chief of Staff to General Von Schmettow, Commander of the Islands, until Von Schmettow was sent back to Germany and Admiral Huffmier took over as Commander. Von Heldorf, who opposed Hitler’s fortress policy, was one of the senior officers who had planned to assassinate Huffmier, but failed. As a result, Von Heldorf was sent to Herm in disgrace.
On Liberation Day, Islander Mrs Le Page, walked down to Herm harbour village, carrying a small Union Jack flag. A German soldier subsequently attached the flag to the top of a railway crane as a sign of the German surrender of Herm. The Le Pages were collected by boat from the harbour in the early afternoon of Liberation Day on the 9 May by British liberating task force soldiers and returned to Guernsey.
Von Heldorf was picked up from Herm a few days after Liberation Day by British soldiers, with only him and his batman residing there at that time.
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