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The Lost Guns of Jersey

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Posted 2 years ago

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Hems303
(50 items)

This post has come about; after a conversation with fellow Collectors Weekly Member Blunderbuss2; see his original post where he talks about salvaging Bronze Cannon, and you will perhaps see the relevance of this post:

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/70657-cannon?in=collection-877

See COMMENTS .27 & .28 for context).

Several years ago; my brother, brother-in-law and myself (all members of the UK Military Vehicle Trust) took a flight to the Island of Jesey to tour the WW2 German fortifications they constructed during their occupation of the island. We have all been involved in Military Historical Research. My brother also in WW2 Aircraft recovery, and I have had some Cave Diving experience. I will not deal with Jerseys WW2 history in this post, as this is well covered out on the web, but deal with our search:

We knew that after the War, the Island of Jesey Authorities asked the liberating soldiers to blow up all the German Costal Defence gun tubes (not sure if they were afraid the Germans might return!), but anyway; the story went that: The liberating allied troops only had so much explosives with them. The major fortifications were not destroyed and can be toured to this day:

Photo .1: Shows just one of the Nazi Coastal Defence "Range Finder" Fire Control Towers still in good order. These were untouched!

Photo .2: Shows the effect the liberating soldiers had on the German gun tubes they managed to "blow up" with demolition charges. Scenes such as these are scattered all round the coast of Jersey.

However; as I said above; the Soldiers only had access to a finite supply of demolition explosives. They did not finish blowing up all the Guns emplaced around the island. There was a semi-mythical tale of best "Krupp Steel" naval artillery barrels "missing" up at the north end of the island. The story went that the soldiers came back to the Authorities and told them they had run out of explosives and couldn't finish the job. The authorities told them to go back and physically "man-handle" the gun tubes off of their mounts, carry them a specified (very long) distance, and heave them over the cliffs into the sea. It is said that the specified distance was exactly "2 Miles".

Over the intervening years military enthusiasts, and others, even divers had searched at the foot of cliffs two miles away from the empty emplacement missing the guns, to no avail.

Photo .3: We search all around the coast, looking down from the cliffs into the clear water, trying to locate the gun tubes, again to no avail. We checked out all the emplacements, paced off "2 Miles".....NOTHING!

We sat down at the main emplacement to have lunch and a beer, worn out from trudging up and down the north eastern coast of Jersey! I looked out to sea...and said to the others....if you were a "knackered" (worn out) "squaddie" (Ordinary British Soldier*) just exactly how far would you carry those heavy gun barrels? We all stood up, rushed to the nearby cliff edge, shouting "just right about here, right by the gun emplacement, absolutely no further!!!!!"....we looked down but nothing was there.....then it dawned on us that it was high tide.........
*Who, like any good idle grunt; takes the easiest, quickest route to successfully completing any given task!

Photo .4: Next day at LOW tide we returned (well my brother didn't as he had to fly home that day...shame!).....we carefully leaned out over the cliff (roped up)....and there they were!!!!!!!!....tucked up, right under the cliff!!!!!!

We are led to believe the gun barrels have since been recovered by such groups as the Jersey MVT and Channel Islands Occupation Society (Jersey) etc. restored and put on display.

If members wish, I can post further research photos we took during our visits and extensive explorations of the Channel Islands and their WW2 history.

More info and links at the very good Wikipedia article on Channel Islands during WW2:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_of_the_Channel_Islands

Here's the link for my final post on the Jersey Guns:

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/75168-the-lost-guns-of-jersey-2

Comments

  1. Hems303 Hems303, 2 years ago
    Here's blunderbuss2's post were we discuss salvaging cannon...see Comments 27 & 28:
    http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/70657-cannon?in=collection-877
  2. vetraio50 vetraio50, 2 years ago
    Look forward to reading about the island adventures!
  3. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 2 years ago
    Very interesting. The head of the archaelogical dept is a dutch friend with a doctorate & was just Knighted several yrs ago.(should use his medal, case & presentation papers for a post). The island seems more interested in the artifacts from the Arawak indians. The head of the musee' is a woman who doesn't like anything to do with guns, citing bad experiences during the war although I know she was born 3 yrs after the Germans tried their hand at a European
    Union.
    It is hard to comprehend that they have such a fantastic historical treasure within 100 mtres off shore & in 3-4 mtres of water & show no interest! There is a Spanish fort & a dutch fort that have never even been gone over with a metal detector! They prefer to look for some old shells & a very few carvings by the very few Arawaks who lived here. Go figure.
  4. walksoftly walksoftly, 2 years ago
    Nice write up Hem, especially like how the eureka moment came to you guys.
    @ blunderbuss, sad the local authorities won't get involved, all history should be remembered & documented.
  5. AmberRose AmberRose, 2 years ago
    Hem this is so interesting...great write up! I would like to see more for sure. Are you planning to go back and see the newly brought up guns?
  6. kerry10456 kerry10456, 2 years ago
    Steve, wonderful write-up and photos. Looking forward to more postings as your adventure progresses. Thanks for sharing.
  7. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
    Great story!
  8. Hems303 Hems303, 2 years ago
    Yes we are planning on another trip as soon as we can all get together at the same time. I have various photo shoots of our "adventures there and will post as you guys & gals seem think it appropriate for CW! (Well it is all about old artifacts recovered for posterity)
  9. Hems303 Hems303, 2 years ago
    Blunderbuss2; you must try to persuade someone on St. Martins who has authority and an interest in pulling in visitors or making more attractions for those that do come! Jersey Tourist Dept. DO charge at some of the more important sites (like the amazing German underground hospital) and it is well worth a visit (they are still digging and finding artifacts, but most is open and restored)....this is just such approach they could use on your island home for crying out loud! All those sites and artifacts not being productively managed!

    :(
  10. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 2 years ago
    Hem, you want to hear something that is absolutely nuts? On the French side, any cannons that are found & recovered, if moved, has to be mounted facing in the same direction as it was found. Go figure.
    A friend of mine told me of a Frog who brought up 2 small "copper" cannons & cut them up to sell for scrap! People like that should have their birth certificates revoked.
  11. Hems303 Hems303, 2 years ago
    AR8Jason: Thanks for the kind comment, and would just love to see your BIOT pictures, I would love to know the history of why the guns were out there at that time! Look forward to it!
  12. Hems303 Hems303, 1 year ago
    Thanks to Manikin, rniederman, kerry10456, AmberRose, BELLIN68, bratjdd,
    vetraio50, walksoftly and miKKoChristmas11!
  13. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
    Trying to get in touch with Sir Jay about the cannons in the bay. The ph # I have used for years is disconnected but I know where he lives if he doesn't show up soon at his office?musee'. He travels a lot. He is a good friend but a little shy after being picked up by the police after firing one of my blunderbusses for the Heineken Regatta. It was all approved by the Lt. governor but he failed to tell the cops! Another story. Getting some interesting motivation on the side. Could make a good documentary & help the island image. Glad we got to talking about it as even I needed a push.
  14. ralph ralph, 1 year ago
    when in my teens & 20s we used to have party's in them bunkers after the saturday dance.i have climbed down the rocks to the big est guns that were to big to salvage most of the German stuff was taken out to herds deep and dumped.
  15. Hems303 Hems303, 1 year ago
    ralph, the guns we "discovered" were certainly well known of by the locals, like yourself, but the "Islanders" seem, on the whole, very reticent about the WW2 legacy, and I feel they would just rather not have it all on show. It has mainly been the historical "societies" that have been the prime movers behind the recovery, restoration and presentation of this WW2 history for the visiting public.

    I bet when you had your party's there was much more that had not been "discovered" than remains today...I envy you! Mind you, the party's I went to in my 20's back in the early 70's left little time for "historical research"!!!!!!!!!!!! (I should imagine your party's were pretty much the same!)
  16. ralph ralph, 1 year ago
    there is tree books worth reading 1 islands in danger 2 jersey under the jack boot 3 slavery in the channel islands this own was taken of the market it was to horrible i lent my copy and never got it back it was about the jewish and russian prisoners of war, how the Germans made them work till they drop dead.
  17. ralph ralph, 1 year ago
    there was one clever chap how made a living at growing mushrooms in the bunkers after the war of course.
  18. Hems303 Hems303, 1 year ago
    Thanks for that ralph, I'll look out for those! I'm told that the Jersey folk tried to pass food and comforts to the Nazi Organisation Todt slaves whenever they could get away with it, because the penalty for getting caught was transportation to mainland Europe. Many Jerseymen were sent to Europe for this or resisting and many never returned.

  19. Hems303 Hems303, 1 year ago
    beachbomb, tlmbaran, petey and ttomtucker; thanks guys for the "loves"!

    13
  20. ralph ralph, 1 year ago
    did you know the underground hospital built by the Slavs and it was the only hospital that had a room whit gas jets all around the wall i know what that room was for.
  21. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
    Most hospitals have gas plumbing in the walls. The gas is called oxygen.
  22. ralph ralph, 1 year ago
    do they have open jets and the on off tape in the room next door like the ones in Jersey.
  23. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
    Is that speculation or fact that can be shown & proved? I truly find it hard to believe that the krauts were gassing people in Jersey! What would they do with the bodies as they would certainly float up on shores & I quite frankly fail to believe that there would be an extermination camp located there. They were hidden you know. And yes, oxygen systems do have valves outside the rooms. The Germans were too smart to put an extermination camp on Jersey as it would be like putting it on the "Front Pages". The idea of the Germans going to the expense, trouble, risk & notoriety is absurd. They didn't get as far as they did by being stupid. I see imagination & assumptions going wild here. The Germans didn't have enough train cars to transport these people & now they have boats to do it!
    Show me official records.
  24. ralph ralph, 1 year ago
    the tunnels were in solid rock and the labours was jewish slaves there was a book on the market called slavery in the channel island but it got taken of the market to gruesome,it was written by own of the slave labor, so believe it or not.i have seen the in print of a body left in the concrete sea wall built by the slaves after the heave seas broke threw the concrete,if they died on the job they where thrown in the concrete.
  25. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
    It was "Slavs" earlier & now it's jews? Have you ever examined studies of war-time propaganda? Every side does it. "Throwing babies in the air & catching them on bayonets" etc.. Winners of wars write the history books & their propaganda is included too often & assumed as fact. More often than not, it is false. Please don't cite from history books to me or speculation. Show me records. The Germans were very good at keeping records, even of crimes. I know,"They were burned or lost". That's crap! Show me records. Your allegations of an extermination camp just off the coast of the U.K. defies reason. I'm 66 and have had many interviews with the people who were there thru the whole thing & have studied records for many a year. How old are you & where do you collect your information?
  26. ralph ralph, 1 year ago
    I said slavs before,sorry misspelled,I meant to say slaves.That is what they called them on Jersey and in books, Jews included.The book called slavery in the channel Islands,is back for sale in the UK. Look at google.. As for my age I am 78 years young.I lived in Jersey until 1967 when i migrated to Australia.Most of my information comes from people who lived through it,Yes it is secondhand information but i believe them before I will believe you.If you look at my things on here you will see a German iron cross.This was taken from an officer by my friend's father,when they surrended.Jersey is not just off the UK coast,it is a long way off.France is much closer.Jersey was the last place liberated,the allies were in Berlin before Jersey was liberated.Jesey is like a little rock too far away for the allies to bother with.they had bigger fish to fry in Euroupe..
  27. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
    That's interesting that Jersey was the last to surrender. I didn't know that. Have several friends here from Jersey. Is the very straight nose with no bridge an island trait?
    For anything to be a secret on an island is down-right un-island like. You surely know that. You can pass wind in your sleep & the next day, somebody from the other side of the island might comment on it to you. "coconut telegraph". It is just not possible for people to be gassed without the whole island knowing almost immediately & word would certainly get out. I've lived on islands for 40 yrs & it is just something you just have to accept. If you are 78, you lived there during that period & certainly would have heard if mass murder was going on. Did you know? What did they do with the bodies? I've found over the years, that by not blindly accepting something, but applying common sense & knowledge to things usually makes the truth clear. Figuring your age, you should have been about 11 yrs old when the Germans surrendered & living there. That is an age where kids are exploring everything going on around them. So what did you know of what was going on? Nothing escapes an 11 yr. old's curiosity. So tell us what you knew about what was going on as I (if not we) are very curious. I can't get that book here, so give us 1st hand account, please.
  28. ralph ralph, 1 year ago
    Where or when did I say they gassed anybody,in fact the underground hospital was never finished.just used as a tourist attraction now.there are a lot more tunnels there,big enough to drive a double decker bus in.Most of the entrances were blown up,I know because we dug our way into one.They were filled with german helmets,field kitchins ect.too numerous to mention..Some are are still used for storage.I could tell you what i was told what the tunnels were built for, but never used..But you wont believe me..the book can be bought on ebay,,it is called- slaves of the channel islands ,,by john dalmau, one of the slaves.
  29. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
    ralph, look at your posts #23 & 25. That is leaps & bounds beyond speculation. History is full of lies that have been repeated so many times that they become the truth. Your insinuations were accusations & false unless you can present records to support them. The reason I asked your age is because your posts sounded like an adolescent. Please abstain from trying to add more lies to history as it is full of it now. This conversation is closed, with disgust!
  30. Hems303 Hems303, 1 year ago
    I can categorically confirm that the Germans did not gas or exterminate Jews or anyone else in Channel Islands. The Organisation Todt "slaves" were nearly all Eastern European, mainly POW and yes they were practically worked to death in their construction efforts. There were no Jewish prisoners kept on Jersey by the Germans, even Jerseymen with Jewish ancestry were shipped to mainland Europe by the Germans, many never to return home. I have never heard some of these things even being speculated upon. I agree entirely with blunderbuss2, please discontinue with this conversation as the things that DID occur are too abhorant to be "muddied" with unfounded speculation.
  31. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
    Thank you Steve. There are very few things that "T-me off" more than biased people trying to re-write history to suit their own purposes or others. You have the "joy-stick" & think you should delete all of that crap! I think the guy made everything up including his age.
    Got a day free to ck. with the musee' curator tomorrow to ask about where the bronze cannon disappeared that she mentioned. I've lived on this rock for over 20 yrs, & if they don't take action, if it is the same cannon, I have connections that will. That would save us the trouble of raising it but will be a political/international situation. I hope that's not the case as it would be fun raising it & have volunteers with the equipment to do it.
  32. Hems303 Hems303, 1 year ago
    I'm a believer in free speech, as far as it goes that is. I believe the comments speak volumes for themselves so I won't pull all comments, just that last little bit of an offensive swipe.

    I hope you get the cannon story rolling with the "authorities" on your island. I'm going t go back to the origin of my Jersey CW Posts and follow up on the "German Guns" with a couple more posts on the recovered "tubes". I think I'll leave some of our more "interesting" Jersey Historical Society/MVT items off of CW, they seem to stir up a bit too much contention!
  33. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
    I agree. You pulled his last post so fast that I didn't have a chance to reply & I thank you for that. I haven't had much time this week because of plane stuff, but have 1/2 day tomorrow to work on things. You have no idea how hard it is to keep my mouth shut about that guy right now, but will. Let's keep this clean & productive.
    I've got half a day off & maybe Sunday too. How about you?
  34. ralph ralph, 1 year ago
    As I said before the hospital was never finished..At no time did i ever say the Germans gassed or exterminated the Jews on Jersey.All I am telling you is what the tourist guide told me and others on tour in the underground hospital in the 19 50's.He was an old Jerseyman who had been there during the occupation..Most of the Jews evacuated Jersey before the Germans got there,I intended to finish this conversation before you sent your post..
  35. Hems303 Hems303, 1 year ago
    Just so correct information is on record: Comment .23: The Hospital was built by Org Todt. SLAVE workers who were as I mentioned; mainly of Eastern European nationalities. The Hospital was intended to SOLELY treat the defending force troops (German) in the event of Allied attempts to retake the Island causing the expected casualties. The gas jets were (are) Oxygen. In general the facilities are quite advanced for the time/setting, certainly not designed for other than medical interventions.

    The Occupying Germans had instructions not to trample the sensibilities of the British Government (as far as it did not conflict with German needs) in their dealing with the Channel Islands, this is one reason why deliberate planned exterminations were not contemplated or actioned. (Obviously this "instruction" and "respect" for etc. etc., only went so far as it pleased the Occupying Force) .

    There were indeed four Concentration Camps on the Channel Island of Alderney but no Extermination Camps. At wars end, post war, only one German stood charged of war crimes: SS Hauptsturmführer Max List; a camp commandant on Alderney. He was not found guilty at Nuremburg and released.
  36. Hems303 Hems303, 1 year ago
    Blunderbuss2: I'm here at my desk for just one day/night then away again for another four days, busy, busy! as they say. Enjoy your half day away from the grind, and hopefully we'll speak again via CW again next week!

    TTFN
  37. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
    Steve, notice that "ralph" was a "born Jersey-man" & lived there until, I think he said 1967. He talks about a tourist guide. Now he wants to change history! People like this are the reason they don't want us to have guns!
    Are Jersey tourist guides spreading these lies? Guess it would sound more dramatic but needs to be stopped.
    Feel free to delete this comment to without prejudice. Who ever heard of a circus with nothing but clowns!
  38. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
    I'm in the same situation Steve. Talk to you when you get back.
  39. Hems303 Hems303, 1 year ago
    As a professional Artist with work with Museums and Curatorial experience I have great interest in ALL things historical. BUT in history you have to be critical of what you read, or are told, (EVEN HERE ON CW!) like you say; you have to apply a searching gaze, believe what you see for yourself AND then apply some common sense and often the truth will out, as they say!

    Regarding the Jersey Islanders and the Second World War....there is GREAT tension...if they lived through it then they invariably wish it would all go away! They rarely want to talk about it. The people who do want to talk openly about it are people who did not live through it and have agenda's of their own....such as myself...I LOVE history, accurate hisory, for and of itself. That I believe is an open and honest agenda, that perhaps does not always meet with acclaim...as I mentioned; on Jersey..most Islanders wish Occupation (and us) would just go away, and rather than sensationalise it, they deliberately play it down. Many older Islanders do not see eye to eye with the "Tourist Industry", let alone some of the "guides". You will be hard pushed to find a guide who had lived through the Occupation nowadays. Most of the "Historical Societies" do now get it right though, and that includes on the Island of Jersey.

    I am a believer that we must not forget what happened, "lest it happen again". To add conjecture or dare I say fictionalise elements is to give fuel to those who say it is ALL fiction and never happened in the first place!

    When I went to the circus as a kid I found the clowns a bit "creepy"..... I'll have to post a front page newspaper photo of me as a 7 year-old in hospital having my hair comically cut by a clown....I look petrified...but thats a whole different story!!! LOL.

    And why should I delete your comment...nuff said.
  40. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
    Well put & I leave it in your hands. Actually, I feel you are wiser than me at this point.
  41. Hems303 Hems303, 1 year ago
    Heres my next post on "The Lost Guns of Jersey":

    http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/75168-the-lost-guns-of-jersey-2
  42. ralph ralph, 1 year ago
    i did have 8mm moves i took of the guns dumped over the cliffs.your photos above.i lost them all in the 1967 bush fires in Tasmania, plus a lot of photos.
  43. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
    Ralph, I contacted the Jersey Tourist site & gave them your information. They said said they would be sure to inform their guides not to embellish history with insinuations or lies. They wanted to know the date you visited so they can narrow it down to a guide. They were not happy to hear that a guide was insinuating such things. If you like, you can tell me when that was or if you prefer, I can give you the name & address of who to contact. I don't want to get somebody in trouble, but neither do they want it to continue.
    Sorry if I vexed you, as you were the receiver of false info., but best that they improve their program.
  44. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
    On a better note! The bronze gun here in St. Maarten is probably still there & I getting cooperation. I got kind of confusing, but here is what is going on.
    I was informed some 8-10 yrs ago about a bronze cannon in a certain bay. Had people volunteering to raise it but got no encouragement from the "historical/hysterical" people. Now I have the backing & only have to verify that the gun is bronze to get action started. It is in approx. 6 ft. of water & approx. 15-20 yards off shore. A diver I know says it is visable certain times of year when sand doesn't cover it & now is a good time.
    The delay has been my fault. I had been told by the curator of the musee' that a bronze cannon had disappeared from a spot in philipsburg. I had supplied pics of a bronze gun on the French side and seems to match the missing one but 5-6 yrs ago there was no action taken & I gave up. I had to talk to the curator to find out it that gun may be the one we are talking about as description sounded the same. She told me that the missing gun was supposedly from a reef (Spanish Reef?) between here and St. Barths. Now, I'm hoping that somebody(s) haven't lied along the way. Only way to know is go look. Curator also wants to recover the gun stolen from this side. I will see if it is still where it was on the french side as before. I know the person who had the gun that was "stolen" is not scrupulous.
    & may have lied about where he found it.
    Hopefully we have one & maybe 2 bronze guns to mount for display.
  45. Hems303 Hems303, 1 year ago
    Well done Ralph! Re: Your comment .45 above; Hats off to you! I guess you "discovered" the objects of this my CW Post many years before we did! Pity you lost the photographic evidence, you could have posted it here to save us doing so. Never mind, thats life!
  46. Hems303 Hems303, 1 year ago
    Blunderbuss2, The plot thickens, sounds like you are getting toward a resolution on the recovery of the Bronze Cannon. Sounds like it is quite accessible...surely there is a danger of a freelancing diver/s grabbing it, if it's that shallow/near surfline? Presume you have the location privately and securely tucked away in the recesses of your memory...no written evidence! Is there the likelyhood of more of the wreck being extant in location? Any idea of nationality?...this is just too good! Wish we were out there with you...really got our recovery and wreck recording juices going now! (Drooling over the keyboard just like you!....send us that damp towel will'ya?).

    Regards, Steve
  47. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
    Things are moving on the bronze cannon. With confirmation of "bronze" they say they can come up with funds. We don't need funds, I don't think. Working on a team of girls to snorkel the spot.hopefully within a week or 2 we have news.
  48. kerry10456 kerry10456, 1 year ago
    Lucas, glad to hear it's going close to being done, will be watching for the "News", and I'll send a towel to Steve, if mine holds out. LOL. Again , will be watching for some news.
  49. ralph ralph, 1 year ago
    there is a rise and fall of tide of about 40 ft 12.3 m so dive at low water.
  50. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 1 year ago
    Thank God ours is only a couple of ft. & we don't even notice it.
  51. Hems303 Hems303, 1 year ago
    I suspect Ralph thinks the forthcoming dive recovery is taking place in ??? Jersey ??? no bronze cannon there-abouts as far as I know.
  52. ralph ralph, 1 year ago
    sorry i mist read 47 bronze gun in st maarten i thought it said st martin a parish of jersey.
  53. Hems303 Hems303, 1 year ago
    No worries ralph, these posts do sometimes turn into free flowing posts between members, this post I entitled "The (Lost) Guns Of Jersey" was actually in response to an earlier post by blunderbuss2, when he posted a beautiful artillery piece he owned and restored, then went on to discuss sunken cannon in the Carribean he was investigating.

    For anyone interested about where this post came from and is hopefully going to; see blunderbuss2's post below, especially comments 25 & 27:

    http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/70657-cannon?in=collection-877

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