- Freedom Tree, Saint Helier, Jersey
Beside the Elizabeth Marina is Richard Perry’s Freedom Tree, which was unveiled by HM Queen Elizabeth II on 60th anniversary of the Liberation. The striking bronze sculpture stands twenty feet tall and carries thirty oak leaves and twelve acorns – one for each of the parishes of Jersey.
The Freedom Tree is a symbol of fresh growth and continuity, directing Jersey away from the past, whilst acknowledging its power and influence. The sculpture occupies a strategic position with a view that encompasses Elizabeth Castle to the south and West Park to the north – both landmarks of the heady days of liberation. It was at West Park where Islanders gathered in amazement to witness the arrival of enormous American landing ships on 13 May 1945. Stan Keiller remembers: ‘Oh, when they opened the bow doors, it was like gaping holes of blackness from which emerged all these vehicles and men, materials. It was fantastic…The troops were handing out sweets and cigarettes and being slapped on the back. It was again one of those moments when people just let their hair down, quite frankly.’
The Channel Islands were left undefended by British forces throughout WWII and lived under German Occupation for five long years. On 9 May 1945, liberating Allied forces negotiated the surrender of the Islands. Landing in both Guernsey and Jersey, they were greeted by crowds of cheering Islanders, joyously celebrating their freedom.