The final flights from Jersey Airport

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The final flights
from Jersey Airport

DH86 Flamingo en route to Heston.jpg

A view British air travellers (except the RAF) will not see again until the war is over. The Jersey coastline with a DH86 Flamingo en route to Heston

From Flight magazine, 11 July 1940

Jersey Airways

"One of the few remaining British air transport companies will now fly only through the fog of war, for its civil activities have perforce ceased with the German occupation of the Channel Islands, which occurred on Sunday, 30 June. Jersey Airways are no longer able to fly this route and the many holiday passengers and others whom they carried will have heard the news with great regret. However, the general manager, Mr G O Waters, when interviewed at the temporary office of the company in a London hotel (where they are at present "refugees"), said that their plans for the future were encouraging as the company would retain its identity and organisation and work in conjunction with the Air Force under Air Ministry instructions.
"The Channel Islands are the only British possession to suffer German occupation in this war. They involved a diversion of too much naval and air strength to be worth holding, as they are situated so close to the French coast (about 25 miles). The Germans have, of course, seized them for their food-producing value, even though small, and for their aerodromes, which may be useful to them for attacks on Channel shipping.
"After the suspension under Air Ministry orders of its regular services on 13 June, the company's evacuation scheme came into action, and on Friday 14 June the wives and families of the staff were transported by air to England in the company's fleet. On the Saturday, the aircraft were used to transfer equipment, stores and five spare engines, as it was hoped to keep operating the services from a base in England. Maintenance personnel went too, except for a skeleton staff, which was to do the Islands end of the maintenance work. This transfer was helped by the arrival of two Ensigns (carrying RAF men) which would otherwise have gone back empty. In fact, the company is very grateful for all the Air Force help it had, as various service aeroplanes which landed on the Islands in the course of their work aided by carrying items of company property to England.
"As far as property is concerned, the company has suffered the minimum of loss. It has got out all its movable equipment and lost no aircraft [1]. But the staff have, of course, suffered heavily by the abandonment of their homes. Mr Waters praised the staff highly for their behaviour during the evacuation. It had been planned previously and, with their efficient support, he was able to direct it so that it proceeded smoothly. In peak holiday time the total staff amounted to about 180, of which 100 were engaged on maintenance. The flying staff consisted of 12 crews (captain and radio operator) for the operation of the six DH86s and one Flamingo which the company then had.
"Mr Waters, the chief engineer and the traffic managers, left Jersey on Sunday, 16 June. On the following Tuesday and Wednesday (June 18 and 19) the fleet of DH86s flew from dawn till dusk evacuating people to a West Country town. Five of the fleet of six were in use, and a total of 320 people were transported.

Demolition parties

"During this time demolition parties of the Royal Air Force had been at work, and property which would have been of use to the enemy, such as motor cars, was destroyed. The Air Force then left.
"Evacuation of civilians by ship was then proceeding, and it was no longer necessary to use aircraft. In fact, it was found that the aircraft tended to cause confusion as some of the refugees who were trooping southward across Jersey to the harbour at St Helier started to retrace their steps and go towards the aerodrome when they saw an aeroplane overhead.
"Radio communication had ceased some time before this, by order of the Air Ministry, but communication by telephone was possible right up until the day of the occupation. On Thursday, 20 June, two aircraft were sent across from England to bring out the skeleton maintenance staff and the airport staff, but Mr Roche, the controller, and a few others still remained.
"Previous to this, ships had taken everybody off Alderney and, with its aerodrome mined and suitably "obstructed", it was left a deserted island. From the Islands, the black smoke of bombing could be seen rising drearily from the coast of Normandy, south of Cherbourg, as the Germans threatened and finally took that town. And as the aeroplane carrying the last of the Jersey Airways staff flew northward to England and safety, numbers of small boats could be seen pushing out from the coast of France, vainly seeking to escape from Nazism. Perhaps Alderney is no longer a deserted island.

Notes and references

  1. This was not true. One aircraft undergoing maintenance had to be abandoned at Jersey Airport
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