The Befehlshaber Kanalinseln was established on 26 September 1940 formally when Oberst Rudolf Graf von Schmettow was appointed to this position. The installation of this staff on the Channel Islands finished the structural measures of the German occupation policy to settle and run both a civil administration and a military higher headquarter. With the occupation of Jersey by troops of 216. Infanterie-Division on 1 July 1940 and the arriving of Major Albrecht Lanz as the first military commander in Guernsey the same day this process had started. Alderney was occupied on 2 July and Sark on 4 July 1940. Feldkommandantur 515 headed by Oberst Schumacher arrived on 9 August 1940 in Jersey to establish a civil affairs command structure, and soon was to have a Nebenstelle in Guernsey and a Aussenstelle in Alderney. In 1943 the HQ of the Befh. was moved to Guernsey.
Subordinated to the Befehlshaber were the so-called Inselkommandanten [Island cdrs.], the major and constant occupation forces, and the numerous smaller units which had a stay on the islands during the years.
There was a high activity of Organisation Todt to built numerous fortifications on the islands and at times thousands of workers were building those facilities (as well as a lot of german construction and other civil companies were involved in the planning and the construction work on the islands, like many documents show). In summer 1943 the Wehrmacht strength on the islands had reached the number of appr. 26.000 (13.000 in Guernsey, 10.000 in Jersey, and up to 3.000 in Alderney).
In 1944 the Inselkommandanturen were given the status of fortresses [Festung] and per 1 October 1944 the Befehlshaber was renamed Wehrmachtbefehlshaber Kanalinseln.

Commanders

Oberst Rudolf Graf von Schmettow (26 Sep 1940 – 1 June 1941)
Generalmajor Erich Müller (1 June 1941 – 1 Sep 1943)
Generalmajor Rudolf Graf von Schmettow (1 Sep 1943 - 1 Oct 1944)

Order of battle

Stab, HQ Jersey, since 1943 Guernsey
Insel-Kommandanturen :
- Inselkommandant Alderney (Major Schwalm)
- Inselkommandant Guernsey (Major Bandelow , 18 Sep 40 – 44)
- Inselkommandant Jersey
-- (Oberst v. Schmettow , 1 June 41 – 1 Sep 43 ; Oberst Siegfried Heine , 1 Sep 43 – 5 Mar 44)
Besatzungstruppen (occupation troops) :
- 319. Infanterie-Division (GM Erich Müller)
- Schnelle Abteilung 450
- Panzer-Abteilung 213 (2 Kpn Beute-Pz.)
- Heeres-Küstenartillerie-Regiment 1265
- I. 1.-3. , II. 4. -6. , III. 7. -9. , IV. 10. – 16. Bttr.
- Nachrichtenzug Kanalinseln
- Nachschub-Stab Kanalinseln, St. Malo
- gem. Flak-Abteilung 124 (v) (Lw)
- Marine-Artillerie-Abteilung 604, Guernsey
- Marine-Artillerie-Abteilung 605, St.Ann, Alderney

German soldiers in King Street, Saint Helier, Jersey in August 1941
bef-kanalinseln-king-street-jersey-1941
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

A Messerschmitt Bf 109 being refuelled in Guernsey
bef-kanalinseln-bf109
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Sources used

Paul Sanders - The British Channel Islands under German Occupation 1940-1945 (Jersey Heritage Trust 2005)
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945

Reference material on this unit

George Forty - Channel Islands at War: A German Perspective
Paul Sanders - The British Channel Islands under German Occupation 1940-1945 (Jersey Heritage Trust 2005)
Peter Tabb - Peculiar Occupation: New Perspectives on Hitler's Channel Islands
Hans Max Freiher von und zu Aufsess - The von Aufsess occupation diary (Phillimore, Chichester/Sussex 1985)

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