It is September 2017, and a team of archaeologists are diligently working away on the tiny island of Chapelle Dom Hue in the English Channel. The party are busy excavating a site containing a small medieval building. Then, quite unexpectedly, they find something that leaves them truly amazed.
The itsy-bitsy islet of Chapelle Dom Hue – also known as La Capelle – is situated just off the coast of Guernsey. Together, the two islands form part of an archipelago called the Channel Islands. Most inhabitants of this cluster of islands live on just two of them, though: Jersey and Guernsey. And although they lie just off the French coast, these two pieces of land are Crown Dependencies of the U.K. This means that while the archipelago isn’t formally part of the U.K., British obligations to the islands include their defense.
Now during World War II this defensive responsibility meant that the Channel Islands earned an unwelcome distinction. You see, the archipelago was, in fact, the only British sovereign land to be occupied by German forces throughout the conflict. The occupation lasted from 1940 to 1945, and the Nazis deported some 2,000 of the islanders during that time. Today, concrete fortifications on the islands serve as a reminder of those dark days.