Happy Liberation Day to everyone in the Channel Islands!
Seventy-four years ago today, the people of the Channel Islands were finally free again after five long years of German occupation. Each year, thousands of people gather to commemorate that historic day on the islands.
Having been lucky enough to attend Liberation Day commemorations on Guernsey and Jersey for five years with my Dad, the 9th May is a day that is also close to my heart. The atmosphere in the islands on Liberation Day is something that I had never experienced before and I still can not put it into words - only to say that it is very special.
Each year, the islands come alive for the Bank Holiday with a variety of events taking place. Official parades, military vehicles processions, the special sitting of the States, theatrical performances, are all features of the day, with truthful re-enactments of the Liberation Forces arriving on the islands to re-hoist the Union Jack being the focal point for the celebrations in town - as happened on Liberation Day in 1945. Addresses by the Baliffs of the islands, as well as other dignitaries and guests, offer further points of reflection for the crowds gathered to listen.
The commemorations draw to a close late in the evening with fantastic firework displays, set to music of the wartime period, lighting up the night sky. This simple and entertaining end to the commemorations creates its own atmospheric tribute. I remember standing looking at the crowds, happy faces enjoying the experience, street lights glowing, interior lights inside houses casting their own light and warmth, illustrating just some of the simple differences that liberation had meant for the islanders back in 1945.
"Our dear Channel Islands" as Winston Churchill called them on May 9th when he announced they would be freed, are unique. They were the only British territory to be occupied by the Germans during the Second World War and the stories of the islanders who lived through it should be heard.
If you want to get a fantastic flavour of what Liberation Day is like in the islands, tune into BBC Radio Jersey or Guernsey online on May 9th, or use the "Listen Again" feature.
During the Liberation Day trips I made with my Dad, I spoke to some of those islanders who were there during the occupation and recorded their stories. You can listen to those stories by clicking here.