- Point of Interest
- Royal Square, Saint Helier, Jersey
Despite the unprecedented size of the enemy presence, approximately one German soldier to four civilians, and the threat of severe punishment, acts of subversion were widespread. Joseph Le Guyader found a unique way of expressing his recalcitrance, by laying paving stones in the shape of a V-for-Victory in a public place.
Chris & Dave Le Guyader recount their grandfather’s legendary act of disobedience in the Royal Square: ‘Our grandfather was relaying the flagstones in the Royal Square. That’s when he thought it would be a good idea, as an act of defiance to install a ‘V for Victory’ within the stones, which he had to cover up with sand every night so the Germans didn’t see, because if they would have, he would have been in big trouble. It wasn’t until the end of the Occupation, and in time for 9 May – Liberation Day – that the majority of people realised that there was a ‘V for Victory’ in the Royal Square.’ Joseph Le Guyader’s ‘V for Victory’ was a witty, cheeky raspberry blown at the invaders, right under the heels of their jackboots.
St. Helier’s Royal Square was full of Islanders on the afternoon of 8 May 1945, waiting to hear Winston Churchill’s VE Day speech on the radio. At the Bailiff’s request, loudspeakers had been erected in the Square and elsewhere in the town. Stan Keiller remembers: ‘The Square was absolutely jam packed tight with animated people, smiles and laughter. Then we heard the crackle of the loudspeakers, and at that moment the Square became silent – you could have heard a pin drop.’ When the Prime Minister stated that ‘…our Dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today’ the crowd erupted with cheers. The Bailiff hoisted the Union and Jersey flags over the Courthouse.
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.