GULLS LOOKING FOR THE LANDING STRIP
Sunday 30 October 2022
Thursday 27 October 2022
For a more domestic perspective on Guernsey under German occupation go straight to the German Occupation Museum. http://www.germanoccupationmuseum.co.uk
Lest we forget; The Channel Islands were the only British Territory to be occupied by the Germans during WW2.
Here, through ration books, newspaper articles, posters diaries and hundreds of photographs all pinned to the walls you get a sense of what it was really like to be occupied, the shortages, privations and day-to-day living under martial law.
Yes, we all endured the Covid lock down and some really suffered, really recently. Guernsey’s was a five-year lock down, with no nightly cheering at 8pm. This was hardship. hunger and sacrifice. Relief came, for some, with an international Red Cross boat in 1944
Many islanders resisted the German Occupation by defiance and acts of sabotage. Those caught suffered appallingly in prisons on the continent. Some did not return.
The Germans invaded on June 30, 1940, and grudgingly surrendered on May 9, 1945.
This is Excellent museum #3. The ‘Most Thoughtful Layout And Curation Award’ goes to this museum.
Gun emplacements across the island
Sian completes a weapons check
In the spotlight: this was a common sight from 1940-45
R&R? a German officer and his girlfriend
Monday 24 October 2022
La Valette Underground Military Museum is a sort of Grand Designs project.
The German occupying forces built a complex of four huge tunnels, each to house a fuel tank.
Never finished this unground complex stood unused as an intended U-boat re fuelling station. The massive tanks were sold off to islanders all except one which stayed in place. It is GIGANTIC. The others were cut up and used to store fuel for the Guernsey growing industry.
In 1978 someone said I know we could turn it into a cool museum.
Now it is a wonderful giant toy box full of military bits and bobs curated in the press your nose up against a glass display case style. A remarkable range of buttons, bows, ribbons, medals, weapons little and large. A full range of army, naval and air force uniforms.
Our second brilliant Guernsey museum visit.
Lots of kit
One of the four oil storage tanks
A corridor runs the entire length of the underground bunker:
full of military bits and bobs
Friday 14 October 2022
CASTLE AND COUNTER CASTLE
Cornet Castle watches over St Peter Port and has done for about 800 years.
The Normans first fortified this rocky outpost. Across the Middle Ages it was back and forth between French and English ownership. (Think Channel Crossers 2021) One French invasion was led a Welshman, Owain Lawgoch.
St Peter Port
The big guns of Cornet - seenin' off them Frenchies
Charles (I) sold bits off to the local council in return for running the place, feeding the garrison and such. A nine year siege during the civil war saw Parliamentarian John Lambert holed up in Cornet. Lambert took up gardening. His garden which has been re-created, nice sage bushes, I helped me self to a few leaves for supper.
One gardener enjoying the work of another
Like most of Guernsey Castle Cornet enjoyed lots of upgrades during the Napoleonic Wars. And in WW2 the Germans moved in with their modifications. Concrete of course.
GRANITE SEA CONCRETE
‘Granite sea concrete’ must be rather like a game of ‘Rock, paper, scissors’.
This island was strewn with Martello towers, impressive granite structures. Aiming to see of any French sea invasions during the Napoleonic wars (1803 – 13). Fort Hommet on the West coast was one example.
Along the road to Hommet
Then ‘ello’, thought the just arrived German army engineers in 1940 ‘this (‘zis) will make a good gun battery’.
Pimp my Fort was the program of importing much slave labour onto the island as part of a vast customisation of these forts with exciting modernist concrete extensions. The Germans transported over 16,000 slave workers to the Channel Islands to build fortifications.
The visitors' book
Crumbling into the sea
Saturday 8 October 2022
Guernsey II. Camp or Kitsch? Either way it is a treasure.
Just around the corner from a posh independent school is The Little Chapel.
It was by Brother Déodat.
The good Brother’s idea was a miniature version of the grotto and basilica at Lourdes, the Rosary Basilica. Fair dinkum. It went through several iterations. Was bashed about rebuilt and then bashed about again. What you see today is a tiny treasure that you can just about walk through and down through several side chapels. Everything is decorated as would befit the Church of Rome.
Fr. Déodat finished a second chapel in July 1914 (measuring 9 feet by 6 feet). However, when the Bishop of Portsmouth visited in 1923, he could not fit through the door, so Déodat again demolished it.
The third and current version of the chapel started soon after the last demolition, and measures 16 feet by 9 feet.
A delightful interior
Glitz, delicate shards of pottery everywhere, seashells, pebbles, and broken china on every surface inside and out.
This is another great reason to visit Guernsey!
Tuesday 4 October 2022
You always remember your first trip after lockdown. Safety briefing, to which you pay attention, babies bawling make you consider an upgrade and people taking an unusual interest in anti-motion sickness bracelets. The later were to become essential must-wears within the next hour of the three hour crossing from Poole to St Peter’s Port Guernsey. There were many passengers wobbling their way to the toilets clutching those nice white paper bags.
BEFORE THE GREAT CHUNDER
Our billet is a delightful and commodious cabin on the north-east of the island – Vale. Driving up we noticed a huge acreage of glasshouses. All empty, the remains of Guernsey’s once huge tomato growing industry. Huge until the Dutch had a go at the same idea. Made mental note to explore the one next door to us with a camera.
One and a quarter miles of tunnel and low cavernous rooms. Part ammo dump, part military hospital. Dipping, cold and glistening in the light shed by ancient yet atmospheric bulkhead lights. Somewhere floats the music of Édith Piaf*. We are in a museum, a wonderful museum. The German Underground Hospital. Built by slave labour imported by the Nazis from across Europe. http://www.germanundergroundhospital.co.uk
One and a quarter miles of tunnel
Part ammo dump, part military hospital
PLENTY OF SPACE