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August 2014, M19 restoration. The base of the mortar is now back from blasting and ready for delivery to the College of Further Education so they can continue with fabrication of the upper mortar frame.

The upper deck plates are getting some final panel beating to remove the last of the buckles and undulations. Once straight, these can be re-fixed to the outer ring, and then the critical task of straightening and fitting the four outriggers can begin.

As discussed in a previous article, the central pivot shaft was badly bent, and this called for an expert. Body panel and car restoration specialist Brian Carre kindly agreed to take on the job, and having bolted the base to the floor, using a mixture of heat and force he managed to return the shaft to the correct position. The central pivot also attaches to the outriggers, and while we had managed to remove some of the bolts, a number had sheared off while other holes were full of debris and rust. These required careful drilling and tapping as required. Luckily we had an original German tap and die set at our disposal.

 

Completed landscaping

Generator secured in observation position

Doors supplied by Ricahrd Heaume being delivered by Bob Froome & Sons

Moving doors into position

August 2014, Gruppenunterstand, Fort Homet.  The exterior landscaping is now almost complete here, and all that remains is to lay granite chippings to the path. The generator is now safely housed in the second observation position, and using steel salvaged from a demolition site a protective steel trap door has been fabricated and fitted. Richard Heaume has kindly supplied the doors that we required, and the two gas doors have now been fitted. More work is required to remove the seized hinges to the stable door frame before this door can be refitted. With the bunker being a fair distance from the road, just getting the doors there was a challenge. Water ingress is still a problem in the ventilation room, and it appears to be caused by the buried chimney flue. After a rather frustrating search we found the stove pipe, and finding it rotten at the point where it meets the concrete roof would seem to confirm our thoughts. A new pipe will be fabricated and fitted and then waterproofed to prevent further leaks.

 

10.5cm Field Gun, Les Cotils

Cleared entrance to one of the ammunition bunkers

Spade from the rear of the gun carriage

Tie-down cable and camouflague netting next to reconstructed emplacement wall

 July 2014, Batterie Naumannshohe 11/1265 HKAR, Les Cotils. This battery remains largely intact and comprises four emplacements together with adjacent ammunition bunkers, a command/observation post, and several personnel shelters. The searchlight shelter in an adjacent property has, however been demolished. The battery was armed with 4 x 10.5cm K331(f) Field Guns. These were originally of First World War vintage, manufactured by the French firm of Schneider as the Canon de 105 mle 1913. Unlike many of the other strong-points on the Island where these were fitted into casemates on specially designed fortress mounts, these guns retained their wheels and were fixed to large steel turntables. The battery was simply tasked with the following; “To protect the harbour by providing barrage fire and, serving as barrage fire control battery, to activate the harbour barrage fire. To engage enemy forces attempting to land or already landed, especially near the east coast”. 

Some years ago we were approach by Les Cotils Christian Centre as they were interested in opening some of the bunkers and emplacements on their grounds. For a number of reasons it wasn’t possible to start on the excavations at that time, but following further discussions, work started in July this year. Initially as part of a Specsavers community project led by Daz Carre and a large group of Specsavers staff, and following that we continued with the help of the Probation Service.

The object of phase 1 was to clear out the command post, and then concentrate on one emplacement together with adjacent ammunition stores. While this emplacement was fairly clear, the two bunkers were full almost to the internal door height with a mixture of soil, scrap metal, large boulders and general rubbish. A good quantity of the granite boulders and soil were re-used to re-instate the rear blast-walls that had been removed post war, and the remaining scrap metal and rubbish was removed from the site. While the clearance was to prove relatively straightforward, several sycamore trees had managed to root themselves in the soil filling the bunker doorways, and having been left for many years had rooted deep into the bunker interiors down steps and removal was to be extremely challenging. In the end, having managed to cut back as many of the trailing roots as possible, Stuart Dyer’s wartime Dodge truck with winch was employed to drag out the offending stumps. 

The interiors still show the remains of a yellow and green camouflage pattern sprayed over dark red. Also visible was a circle with the customary “L” which for many years we believed to indicate a lightly built structure that wasn’t bomb proof. A recent discussion with a German historian would suggest this is short for Luft and refers to a bunker that isn’t gas-proof. On nearing the bottom of the first ammunition bunker a few interesting artefacts came to light. First to appear was one of the tie-down hawsers that held the gun to the turn table mounting. Then the steel camouflage frame that sat above the gun like an umbrella. Finally and the most exciting was the rear spade from the gun carriage, most likely removed and stored here by the crew as this wasn’t needed in this role.

 

Bearings and spindles installed in the jack body

Re-assembling the lower jack

Reforming the buckled sections of the upper floor frame

May 2014, M19 restoration. More progress has been made with the circular upper floor frame. Being an angle section, some pieces were so badly distorted it proved impossible to get them back to shape. The only solution was to cut them along their length into two pieces, reform them using a jig and then weld them back together. We are now almost in a position to start fitting the four out-riggers that hold the floor to the slip ring body. This will entail some careful measuring as all but one if these has been cut in half or badly bent. The lower jack has now been re-assembled and is operating correctly. The next stage will be to weld the straightened sections of the slip ring body back together.

The Engineering Department of the College of Further Education has kindly agreed to look at the plans of the upper frame for the weapon and take it on as a project.

On the Fort Sausmarez example, we recovered approx 400mm of base, the rest being gas axed off. This has provided a good reference point for the remaining dimensions and we are hopeful that the college will be able to fabricate the basic frame of the weapon. The actual automatic mortar that pivots on the frame can then be fabricated and fitted at some point in the future.

 

The slip ring body just visible

The slip ring body begins its ascent

The slip ring body reaches the surface

May 2014, M19 recovery, Stp. Grossfels. Our quest to recover parts for the M19 Automatic Mortar has seen us excavate a number of backfilled turret rooms in the type 633 bunkers damaged during the post war scrap drive. So far, extensive digs have been carried out at Chouet, Fort Richmond and Fort Sausmarez, the latter yielding the best results. The last two sites being Grandes Rocques and Fort Hommet. As we’ll be excavating the Fort Hommet turret room as part of the restoration works in 2014 this has been left untouched for now. Our visit to Grandes Rocques back in 2010 had proved extremely fruitful, with similar items recovered internally, leading us to believe that the turret room of this bunker could well contain valuable parts left behind by the scrap men. There were some issues with the vegetation which required careful excavation in order to minimise damage to the dunes and gorse in the area. We agreed a demarcation line, and the edge of the hole was shored up to prevent anything beyond this line falling into the hole. We are extremely grateful for the support we received from the Environmental Services Unit in allowing us to excavate this sensitive area.

Very little appeared to be coming out of the excavation, but as we got down to approx. 3m a large circular object became visible. A quick inspection found that the slip ring body was still sitting upright in its original position, and initially it looked to be in much better condition than the one currently undergoing restoration. Removal was to prove extremely difficult. Given the fact that the turret room is only 2m in diameter there is barely room for the smallest excavator bucket, so progress was confined to digging down in one area and then hand digging the back-fill into this hole and repeating the process over and over.

Once the base of the slip ring body was exposed, the bolts connecting it to the jack below needed to be cut, and progress was hampered by some discarded sheet metal jammed against the back of the slip ring body shielding the rear bolts. With the bolts cut, the slip ring body was carefully lifted out and then with a few good bites of the bucket, the lower jack was also recovered. Once removed, similar damage to the Fort Sausmarez example was soon evident, with one side completely ripped out. This must have been a result of the shock wave caused when the turret was blown out. One question remains. Who removed the automatic mortars? Did the British army cut away the lower and upper decks to remove the mortars so as to disarm the bunkers? It would be fairly simple just to remove the barrel and firing mechanism and the mortar would be useless. If the mortars were still in-situ when the turrets were removed, why would the scrap men take the trouble to remove them and leave the remaining items behind when it would have been easy to crane them out? We may never know.

 

Bob Froome's digger excavating trench system

Lining trenches with wriggly tin

Landscaping in front of Brandenburg personnel shelter

April 2014, Batterie Scharnhorst. Throughout 2012 & 2013 we’ve made good progress at Batterie Scharnhorst, and a longer than normal 2013 season has seen us on site into December for the first time since we started on this area back in 2008. Continued support from Bob Froome & Sons has seen all the major landscaping complete and all the trenches around the site that can be, have been excavated. These are being lined with corrugated steel sheets and will be completed in the spring when we return.

The Brandenberg personnel shelter is suffering from flooding and various sumps and drains serving the trench in front have been blocked with soil. These are being cleared out by hand with rods, but it is proving difficult. It’s likely these will need to be jetted with a high pressure hose to remove the remaining mud and silt. Remaining works here will include fitting timber windows and doors to the various structures to keep out the weather and a coat of yellow and green camouflage paint to all the remaining ammunition and crew shelters. Steps into the two “Brandenberg” ammunition bunkers will be created using recently donated railway sleepers.

 

Dismantled roller assembly

The upper deck and frame as found

Straightening the upper deck using the lower deck as a template

The lower jack sandblasted and painted

March 2014,  M19 restoration. The restoration of the various parts recovered from Fort Sausmarez is progressing, albeit a bit slower than hoped. This has delayed our intended start date for works on site at Fort Hommet. We are aiming to be in a position to crane the restored sections into the turret room prior to fitting the new replica turret to avoid trying to lift and assemble the heavy sections from inside.

The lower deck is now re-assembled, and the upper deck although very badly buckled and twisted is being carefully straightened and repaired using heat, hydraulic press and anvil as required.  This consists of a circular section of steel angle to which are mounted four steel quarter floor sections incorporating two rectangular access hatches.

This is mounted to the slip ring body via four steel outriggers bolted at both ends, and these had been both buckled and or cut into sections during the post war salvage operation. On the outside of the steel angle are bolted ten rollers that run along the inside of the turret. Even these short shafts have been bent by the explosion and all are being stripped, straightened and re-assembled.

The large internal shaft that allows the floor to rotate, and also carries the Bakelite contact drums was also badly bent and caused considerable difficulties when we tried dismantling the assembly. The large toothed brass elevating ring was cracked in three places, but the Grandes Rocques example is undamaged so will be swapped over. Also present on the recently recovered slip ring body is the traversing gear box which was missing from the Fort Sausmarez one. Although badly bent this is being straightened, and should be repairable.  Incredibly, despite the length of time this had spent buried, all the bolts came undone with relative ease, as the threads were still oiled.

The slip ring body is being reassembled and the lower mount and jack have returned from grit blasting and are now ready to be reassembled. The shaft that runs from the floor plate up through the jack had bent and snapped in two. This has now been straightened and welded back together. This outer shaft protected an inner shaft that ran from the large hand wheel at the rear of the ammunition room, along a floor duct, and then via a bevel gear, up through the whole assembly to the base of the mortar to allow for manual operation.

 

Well road personnel shelter entrance

Well road personnel shelter demolition

Well road personnel shelter plan

 February 2014. Well Road Bunker Demolition. Built into a small area between a pre-war building and two boundary walls, it was invisible from the outside. The bunker appears to be a basic personnel shelter with a floor area of 5m x 3m. In one corner a square chimney flue exits the roof and looks to have been for a small bunker stove. The well reinforced roof is around 0.5m in thickness and with 150mm x 150mm steel I beams cast into its underside.

One interesting feature is a small wooden chute that enters just above the door and appears to have come from the warehouse that once stood on the opposite side of a small lane. Its purpose is not known and may have been a cable duct as there was evidence of German electrical wiring amongst the demolition rubble. Two sources suggest this was a bakery, but it is doubtful that it would be big enough for that purpose. It was more likely  a shelter for the bakery staff who may have been working in an adjacent building.

This highlights the importance of recording these small one off structures, as it is easy for them to be overlooked when planning  applications are submitted and the danger is they will be lost for good without the chance to record them.

 

Fort Doyle Armoured Turret excavation

Fort Doyle Armoured Turret plan

Removing the lower deck

Blast damage to the ventilation room

January 2014. Our New Year dig for 2014 took place at Fort Doyle at the site of the six loopholed armoured machine-gun turret, mehrschartenturm. The purpose of the dig being to establish the layout of the bunker, what of the structure had survived the scrap men’s explosives, and lastly to recover any artefacts left behind. Our information to date suggested it was a re-enforced field order construction of similar design to the examples at Fort Richmond and Fort Sausmarez. While these have separate crew and ventilation rooms either side of a corridor leading to the turret room, there was some doubt that this structure would be of similar size.

Excavation was fairly straightforward, but the area surrounding the front of the turret (shown hatched in red on the plan) had completely disappeared down to the base of turret level. Care was needed to ensure unstable material was prevented from collapsing into the hole. As with the example at Fort Richmond, the lower steel deck was still in place and in a good state of preservation. The rest of the bunker of was still intact albeit showing signs of the explosion with large cracks evident on the rear walls and roof. The design differed with only a single room leading off from the turret room. This small room housed the ventilation pump, fortress telephone and racking for ammunition storage.

A number of artefacts were recovered including two seats from the turret, mountings for the upper deck and access hatch, along with sections of the graduated range ring from the turret interior. The lower deck was cut free and removed without too much trouble. As we already have a good example from the Fort Richmond excavation, this deck will be going to Jersey to help Malcolm Amy and the team with the restoration of the Type 634 armoured loophole turret, Sechsschartenturm at La Corbière.

As ever this excavation would not have been possible without the relevant permissions and we’re extremely grateful to Mr George Domaille and the L’Ancresse Commons Council for allowing us the open up the bunker, and thanks also go to Tony and Roger Froome for providing the excavator and driver for the morning.

M19 Bunker.  Stp.Rotenstein, Fort Hommet. While waiting for the permission to be organised for the major repair phase which we hope to start in September, we decided to carry out a small dig into the turret room from within the bunker.We were hoping to establish if anything of the M19 had been left in-situ, and after a couple of hours of digging were not to be disappointed. The lower deck appears to be intact complete with footsteps, and it look as though just the centre section has been removed, leaving the remainder undamaged. Also visible are the shelves that form part of the lower assembly that supports the jack. Given that this lower deck looks to be in much better condition than the example we’ve assembled from parts recovered from other M19 bunkers previously, we’ve agreed we should restore and re-fit this one.

 

Found it! Gaining access to the Command Post

Recording and surveying the excavation.

Interior of the Command Post.

Command Post plan.

June 2013.  Batt.Sperber, Delancey Park. As part of our on-going investigations of the battery site we arranged a further morning of excavations to establish the position of some trenches and identify an unknown structure between two of the casemates. We had been approached some months earlier by a German TV crew who wanted to film Festung Guernsey in action. With all the permissions in place we quickly accessed the first target and found that there was no trench connecting the casemate to the unknown structure. A second hole was dug and luckily we hit the door first time. The structure turned out to be the battery command post. Fairly standard artillery type construction. Granite sett walls and concrete flat roof with high level windows in one wall. It appears to have been strengthened with I beams and tree trunks, the latter having rotted and let the beams fall to the floor. The excavated areas were re-instated and the information will be used for a detailed proposal to the Admiral De Sausmarez Trust to open and interpret the site.

 

Mick Batiste from Bob Froome & Sons wiggles the levers to make it all happen

The excavated hole where the turret once was.

Removing the base unit

Recovered parts for restoration and future use at Fort Hommet

 June 2013.With the permission of Public Services Dept and co-operation of the Model Flying Club we were able to excavate the turret room of the M19 automatic mortar bunker at Stp.Krossen, Chouet. Care had to be taken tracking the large machine across the runway in order to prevent deep ruts forming. Once on site the machine made quick work of excavating the deep hole. We found the two part stable door on the gun room still in place, the top door had been cut free and left standing. This was recovered along with a number of other useful items. No parts of the weapon we recovered and it is hoped to have more luck on the last two examples yet to be excavated.

 

Welcome speech by Richard Heaume MBE

Ernie Gavey signing books

Some of the team involved with the book's production and launch

March 2013. Festung Guernsey's first publication is launched. 'German Tunnels in Guernsey, Alderney & Sark' was a team effort by members using text written by ErnieGavey; the book runs to 350 pages and is extensively illustrated with maps, plans and photos. The launch was kindly hosted by Richard Heaume MBE at his German Occupation Museum. ORDER BOOK HERE http://www.festungguernsey.org.gg/

 

Covered trench Excavated trench and tobruk pit.
February 2013.  Working in conjunction with the Probation Service and Culture & Leisure, two mortar tobruks, personnel shelter and section of covered trench have been cleared on the Town Battery of Castle Cornet.  Originally buried in the 1980's with rubble from a previous excavation, many tons of bricks and rubble have been removed leaving the well preserved positions open and visible to those visiting to the castle.

Removing the backfill from the Personnel Shelter, Fort Hommet

Hand digging into the entrance

Personnel Shelter mural "Song for the Infantry"

January 2013. With the permission of the Environment Dept, 2013 started with an excavation of the personnel shelter at Fort Hommet. Initially the investigation was to provide information for a proposal to permanently open and conserve this bunker.  The interior is in good condition and contains some interesting and well preserved murals. It is hoped in due course, this will be added to the growing number of bunkers that can be visited on the headland.
 
 

Temprary access to the roof position

Bailing out the roof area

Recessed floor for a future flak mount (not fitted)

M5 observation position

October 2012. M5, La Prevote. A full survey was carried out to enable an accurate plan to be drawn up, and to create a proposal for the future conservation works required to this unique structure. Also a thorough clean out and works to unblock the drains to clear the flooded roof.

Removing gable cladding

Lifting of the timber frames

Careful re-painting of the obscured mural

As the mural would have looked

September 2012. The former Sea Scout hut at Brock Road was an original German barrack hut erected on site sometime after the war, possibly coming from one of the workers camps. When it became known that this along with parts of the Old Boys Grammar School were to be demolished we approached the Guernsey Housing Association to see if we could recover it. With their permission and co-operation of Paul Rouget who was carrying out the demolition we recovered all the salvageable parts.  With the hut recovery complete we turned our attention to looking for the long lost mystery mural in the school building. After a short search of the art room the faint impressions of letters were seen once panelling had been removed. The letters had been scratched out and filled and so the mural was carefully repainted to match the original, based on the small traces of paint found.
     
     
Tour members with the military vehicles Batterie Dollmann Emplacement Inspecting the Batterie Dollmann replica carriage Photographing the moment the gun was fired
September 2012. In  early 2012 we were approached by Association St-Maurice d'Etudes Militaires. A group of retired Swiss army officers who study and maintain the Swiss fortifications. They were planning a tour of the defences of both Guernsey and Jersey. An itinerary was arranged and agreed, and on 15th September the tour took place. As an added surprise members of the Guernsey Military Vehicle Group transported our visitors around the Island in wartime vehicles. Starting with the German Occupation Museum the group then travelled to MP3 at Pleinmont and then Batt.Dollmann where Guernsey Armouries fired the 22cm coastal artillery gun. This was followed by lunch at the Rockmount before visiting Fort Hommet and then the Naval Signals HQ before returning to the airport.
     
     

Leitstand Bunker, Batterie Dollmann

KPMG staff and Festrung members inside the main room of the Leitstand bunker

   
August 2012. "Staff at KPMG carry out a number of voluntary community projects. We were lucky enough to have their assistance to clear out the Leitstand bunker at Batterie Dollmann; used for many years as civil defence monitoring station, but more recently lying unused the bunker was full of rubbish and fairly hazardous to visitors. The team moved many tons of rubbish and scrap metal leaving the interior clean and tidy. Our thanks also to Bob Froome and Sons who helped in moving the rubbish and scrap".
     
     
Working party at Batteries Scharnhorst gun pit Reairs to defence postition at Batterie Scharnhorst Excavating Tobruk pit at the Half-Way BBQ at the Flak Tower
August 2012.Working with tour company Cultours a working week was arranged for early August. Six volunteers led by tour guide Torsten Granov joined us for a mixture of work, fortification visits and social activities. They helped with rebuilding of the damaged defensive positions at Batt. Scharnhorst, excavated the tank turret Tobruk at the Half-Way and finally spent two days excavating the type L403 flak command bunker at Flak.Batt.Dolmen. Members took the party on visits to most of our sites during the week including Batt.Mirus, as well as various museums. A barbeque at the Fl242 flak bunker followed by a visit to Guernsey Armouries collection was very successful evening.
     
     

Coast film crew with Paul Bourgaize outside the 4.7cm at the half-way.

BBC film crew interviewing Tom Bourgaize

Bob Froome & Sons digger removing backfill

Inside the personnel bunker

May 2012. Personnel Bunker, Wn.Garen, Les Amareurs.  Following an approach towards the end of 2011 by the BBC Coast programme we agreed to open a couple of bunkers to form part of a programme on the occupation and liberation of Guernsey. The BBC team first visited the Half-Way pak casemate and then joined us in the evening to excavate a personnel bunker at  Wn.Garen, Les Amareurs.

Being situated on the golf course, we needed to speak to a number of States Departments, as well as the Common’s Council and the Golf Club before permission was given. Bob Froome and Sons kindly supplied a digger and driver for the operation. All went to plan, and by the time the film crew arrived we were ready to access the bunker. Air readings were taken, and once if was deemed safe to enter, the film crew and presenter Nick Crane joined Steve Powell, Tim Stonebridge and Ian Brehaut for an inspection if the interior.

The bunker had been fairly well stripped, but some telephone junction boxes had survived along with quite a few electrical items. Other small finds included part of a mortar round and some rifle ammunition.  A fragment of newspaper still stuck to wall read “Dem Führer beschworen" which translates to “Confirmed by oath to the Führer".

     
     

Re-assembled tipper

    
April 2012. After many hours of work the tipper truck recovered from Grand Havre is re-assembled and awaits its final coat of paint
     
     

Grit blasting door and 4.7cm barrel

Primer coat on barrel and tipper carriage wheels

Grit blasting door, barrel and tipper carriage

 
March 2012. We are extremely grateful to Jamie at Powder Coating Solutions for giving us a day of his time to grit blast a number of items. These included items salvaged from the 4.7 Pak casemate at Vazon, bunker doors and the tipper truck recovered from Grand Havre.
     
     

Conger eel

Rusting ventilation pump and pipework.

   
February 2012.  4.7 Pak Casemate, Vazon.  With the usual permissions in place we gained access through the buried rear entrance door and found the bunker still flooded as expected. A heavy duty pump was employed and a couple of hours later we were able to get in to assess what was left.

Several salvageable sections of ventilation pipe work along with a 10m³ air pump and various telephone junction boxes were found. The biggest surprise was finding a live congar eel swimming around in the ventilation room. How it got there and how long it had been in the bunker is a mystery as there was no obvious way in, with the embrasure being blocked by a section of sea wall built post war.

We returned the following week to pump out the lower spent shell room, and a number of small items were found, including spent shell cases for the Czech machine-gun and the telephone handset.

     
     
January 2012. Armoured Turret Bunker, Cobo.  Our traditional New Year dig at the beginning of the year focused on the armoured turret bunker adjacent to the kiosk at Cobo.  Hopes were high for some finds, as we knew this bunker had remained sealed since back-filling early post-war.

With the exception of a few meters of cabling and a few electrical fittings the bunker had been stripped clean. However, despite being flooded to a depth of about 12 inches the structure was well preserved and the original paintwork was in good condition.

     
     
December 2011. The 4.7 pak barrel had been recovered from the Half-way casemate in the 70's and displayed at the Occupation Museum ever since. Now, museum owner Richard Heaume has kindly given the barrel to Festung Guernsey to be returned to the casemate and displayed in its original position.

September 2011. Ho31 at Chouet was one of only two tunnels shown as completed on the German engineers maps. Buried deep in a back filled quarry, the tunnel had not been accessible for at least 40 years. Using wartime and modern aerial recce photos it was possible to get an accurate location of the tunnel entrance, and with the permission of the Public Services Dept, and the help of Bob Froome and Sons we gained access to survey the tunnel.  26ft below the surface, we found the entrance sealed, and it took some time to remove the stale air with a pump. Once inside we found that the tunnel was obviously constructed in two different stages. An early infantry shelter built with granite sets and numerous recesses and inscriptions. A later concrete tunnel built to house the generators for the strong-point on the headland. Once the tunnel had been photographed and measured the area was re-instated. The full details will be published in a new book on German Tunnels, due to be published early in 2012.

Releasing the plate with heat

Releasing the winding mechanism

The winding mechanism

 
June/July 2011. Armoured shield is now operational again after the winch gear and counter weight have been renovated and new cables installed. Considering the plate weighs in excess of a ton it now lowers and raises extremely easily.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVpma9fqgbQ

June  2011. Discovered by  a member of the public (Roy Glass), a lump of metal sticking out of the common at Grand Havre turned out to be a rare 90P9 observation turret buried in a trench since the war. It has four slits in the four inch thick metal enabling the operator to be protected whilst observing targets. Weighing in at over six tons the turret would have been built into a bunker. It was recovered from the trench and the area made good with the generous help of Bob Froome & Sons digger, with Tony Froome operating it. It is now in the car park of the German Occupation Museum, on loan from Fetsung Guernsey.
April  2011. Work starts on collating the vast amount of photos and text required for Festung Guernsey's first publication 'German Tunnels in Guernsey, Sark and Alderney. This will hopefully be published early in 2012.

The Art Gallery, National Army Museum

The Duke of Gloucester

  
March  2011.  Steve Powell and Pierre Renier represented Festung Guernsey and the Channel Island Occupation Society at a recent Fortress Study Group conference entitled “Fortifications at Risk”. The two day event was held in the stunning art gallery of the National Army Museum in London. The event was well attended with over 200 people including FSG patron HRH the Duke of Gloucester.  The wide range of topics discussed included The Defence of Britain Project, Preservation of 20th Century Fortifications in Sweden, WW2 Anti-Invasion Defences, and a presentation from the Heritage Lottery Fund amongst many others.

 
Janauary  2011. Despite limited time and funding we have recently had to remove graffiti from a number of installations, spray-painted by feral members of the population sporting phallic features above the neck.
Janauary  2011. Mirus Batterie gun site No.1 has recently been sold; the new owner who is a keen supporter of Festung Guernsey has  agreed to allow us to clean, secure and provide interpretation for the site, eventually making the emplacement available to visiting groups.  Although a major project, this is the jewel in the crown of all Channel Island fortifications. Further images of Mirus on Steve Powell's website: http://www.steve-powell.co.uk/festung/Batterie%20Mirus/index.html
Janauary  2011. EAn excavation of  areas at Stp. Reichenberg (Fort Richmond) un-earthed a small armoured turret and M19 bunker with some fine fittings; these will be removed for use in more accessible locations. Images at Steve Powell's website: http://www.steve-powell.co.uk/festung/Stp.%20Reichenberg%20(Fort%20Richmond)/index.html
December  2010. Members gathered at the Occupation Museum for our annual meeting. A de-brief on the years events was discussed and many new issues and projects were mentioned for the year ahead; all accompanied by exceedingly good mince pies and Richard's ersatz coffee. Festung Guernsey has now been in existence for over 5 years.
November  2010. Representatives from Festung Guernsey laid a wreath on Remembrance Sunday at the Foreign Workers Memorial, St. Peter Port Harbour. Some members who are also part of the GMVG had also been involved with the Poppy Appeal collection on the Saturday.

Neil Walker and David Maindonald from CIOS Jersey came over from Jersey to experience the opulence and splendour of Guernsey on an informal visit; they were shown a number of fortifications over the weekend. A social evening was held at La Villette Hotel after which Neil gave a couple of very informative 'powerpoint' presentations; we rewarded them with a spectacular thunderstorm and an early fall of snow!

 
October  2010 Excavation of the M19 bunker at Grandes Rocques with the permission of the States of Guernsey Environment Dept. Many fixtures were found and removed for eventual fitting at the Fort Hommet M19. More photos from the M19 at Steve Powell's website: http://www.steve-powell.co.uk/festung/Grandes%20Rocque%20M19/index.html

Part of St. Saviour's Tunnel (HO12) is offered for sale, details as per pdf sales document. Very little of the structure was actually being sold, the purchaser in reality was being asked to buy a tube of air! Funny really...... the property remained unsold. images/News/st-saviours-tunnel-details-email.pdf

August 2010. For the first time the States is looking into repairing a WWII bunker.  Culture and Leisure Museums and monuments admitted work on the bunker at Fort Hommet might be seen as controversial, but said that the structures were an important part of Guernsey's history.  see Guernsey Press report here:   www.thisisguernsey.com/2010/08/04/war-bunker-may-be-restored

Preparation of reinforcement and shuttering

Casting the replacement roof to the ammunition store

Steps leading to trench

Trench from ammunition store to personnel shelter

Summer 2010. Work on the Batterie Scharnhorst site continues with excavation of more trenches and the re-casting of the reserve ammunition store blown up after the war when the area was re-instated for agriculture.

Pumping out the accumalation of seawater

Inside the flooded emplacement

Empty shell cases found in the spent shell cases room.

More finds from the emplacement

June 2010. The 4.7 Pak casemate at Cobo was accessible through the gun embrasure and deemed a danger to inquisitive beach users. Festung Guernsey was tasked with surveying the structure after first pumping out the flooded rooms and finally blocking the embrasure with concrete blocks.

 
March 2010. Having received planning permission, Festung Guernsey began excavating the M19 bunker. A large amount of backfill was removed from the site, and the area graded down to form a gentle slope down to the entrance door. In between lorry loads, we took the opportunity to dig down into the shattered turret room. The damage done post war by the scrapmen when they removed the steel turret was quickly evident, and a bad crack runs back from this area to the rear wall adjacent to the door. The interior is reasonably well preserved, but the crew room is flooded to a depth of several inches. Work will continue over the next few weeks to clear the interior, and finish fencing around the perimeter as well as seeding all the disturbed areas.
 

 

    

4.7cm-Embrasure-Winding-Gear

4.7cm-Escape-shaft

4.7cm-Ventilation-Pump

January 2010. Having sought permission from the States of Guernsey Environment Department, Festung Guernsey carried out the excavation of a buried coastal bunker. The  4.7cm Pak casemate (WN. Schönbucht-Mitte) was rumoured to contain equipment that may be worth salvaging. On entry it soon became evident that the bunker was in good condition and almost untouched with the exception of the main gun. We have now proposed that the bunker is opened permanently, and are awaiting the necessary approval.  
 

 

August 2009. Festung Guernsey seeks permission to excavate the M19 mortar bunker at Fort Hommet. Follow link for the report in The Guernsey Press  www.thisisguernsey.com/2009/08/15/x-marks-the-mortar-spot/ 
 

 

Final clearance of "Scharnhorst" single ammunition bunker

Trench leading to "Scharnhorst" single ammunition bunker

Trench leading to "Scharnhorst" crew ready room.

Trench leading to "Scharnhorst" double ammunition bunker.

July 2009. Suzie Thomas, Community Archaeology Support Officer for the Council for British Archaeology visited Guernsey to study  work carried out by voluntary groups. Tanya Walls from Guernsey Museums suggested she visited a Festung Guernsey site. Suzie was given a tour of Batterie Scharnhorst to see the ongoing work to clear the various structures.
 

 

June 2009. A group of Festung Guernsey members who belong to the Guernsey Military Vehicle Group paid a week long visit to Normandy for the 65th anniversary commemorating the D-Day landings. Excursions were organised to many of the historic sites including Batterie's Merville, Azeville, Crisbecq and the recently uncovered Grand Camp Maisy. 
 

 

June 2009.  Jurats from the Royal Court along with the Community Service team visit Batterie Scharnhorst and other sites to see examples of the type of work undertaken by the offenders on the scheme.
 

 

Danish Cultours at Batterie Dollmann

Danish Cultours leaving La Collinette Hotel in Stuart Dyer's Dodge Weapons Carrier

Jayne Shorto's GMC

May 2009. Danish 'Cultours' visit. Tour started from the German Occupation Museum and continued on to Batterie Dollmann, MP3 and Fort Hommet, finishing at St. Jacques MNO bunker. Transport was provided by Jayne Shorto's GMC and Stuart Dyer's 6x6 Dodge Weapons Carrier.
 

 

Wild-Ost Tour at Telephone Bunker

May 2009. This photo from Wild Ost Tour from Germany. Sunday 10th -Wed 13th May, led by Frank Sauermann und Jürgen Wedemeyer (Berlin Unterwelten E.V.) Sites visited included Mirus, Scharnhorst, Tannenberg, Rouge Rue Tunnel, Telephone bunker and Batterie Dollmann. They have already planned a visit for 2010 and asked Festung to guide the party.
 

 

December  2008. The expertise of Festung Guernsey was recognised when key representatives were asked to attend a States of Guernsey presentation 'Guernsey Tomorrow'.  The States released the following objectives:

 "The Policy Council’s Strategic Land Planning Group is reviewing the Plan that prioritises how we all inhabit and use the space that we have on our island – known as the Strategic Land Use Plan. This Plan is important because it sets the direction for the Environment Department to produce the Urban and Rural Area Plans. It has a real influence on the future ‘shape’ of Guernsey. We want this to make this an inclusive process, so we are listening to what the public are telling us about their hopes and aspirations for the future of Guernsey. We want to enable the entire community to consider the key issues and to be involved in the development of our options for the future. ‘Guernsey Tomorrow’ seeks to find the best balance between the opportunities for development and change and protection of our environment. As always with planning it is a matter of weighing up the options, not always easy ones, and reaching a balanced decision based on the evidence.”

The Policy council has contacted various groups/organisations to attend a series of workshops. The idea is to get a the opinions of a wide cross section of Guernsey inhabitants to look at how we want the Island to develop in the future.

 

 

December  2008. BBC Radio Guernsey interviews Festung Guernsey spokesman, Paul Bourgaize about the 4.7cm Pak casemate bunker at L'Eree and the objectives of the group. Listen to interview here.   Watch interview on BBC Spotlight Southwest here.
 

 

December  2008. Guernsey Military Vehicle Group presents at their AGM  a generous donation to Festung Guernsey funds.

Firing Pin

4.7cm L'Eree, Shells.

December  2008. The 4.7cm Festung Pak casemate at L'Eree has been placed in the care of Festung Guernsey by the States of Guernsey Environment Department. German Occupation Museum director Mr. Richard Heaume is fully supportive of Festung Guernsey's programme and has generously offered to loan appropriate equipment from his collection for the refurbishment of this important casemate. Further details at 4.7cm Pak page.
 

 

Festung corporate clothing

November 2008. Festung Guernsey commissioned and ordered a range of clothing superimposed with its corporate identity on both its social and work wear; the simplistic design of the logo has been well received by members and is well recognised by outside agencies.
 

 

September/October 2008.  Festung Guernsey secures lease on 2cm Flak bunker at Batterie Mirus. Further details at 2cm Flak page.
 

 

September 2008.  Survey completed of IV Abt. HQ bunker at Les Islets Arsenal.
 

 

September 2008.  Work at Grantez Mill completed. Further details at Grantez Mill page.
 

 

Initial clearing at Batterie Scharnhorst

Batterie Scharnhorst removing infill

Debris in gun-pit

August 2008. Festung Guernsey with the permission of an enthusiastic land owner starts to clear the first gun emplacement of debris and vegetation at Batterie Scharnhorst. Further details at Batterie Scharnhorst page.
 

 

Armour-plate being lifted from Chouet Headland

Armour-plate being lifted at in place at Vale Castle

Armour-plate re-instated

March 2008. Following the discovery of a surplus armour plate buried at Chouet headland, and successful negotiations with the relevant authorities, Festung Guernsey were able to re-instate the plate on to a heavy machine gun emplacement at Vale Castle. The difficult operation to move the 7.5 ton plate was made possible with the professional help of Bob Froome & Sons hi-ab lorry.
 

 

Inspecting the 4.7 Pak at the German Occupation Museu Ebrasure being loaded into van Painted and ready to be re-installed
February 2008. Festung Guernsey assisted a group of enthusiasts from the Czech Republic who came all the way to Guernsey with a van to collect from the German Occupation Museum an embrasure for a 4.7 Pak that they are restoring. They intend to re-instate the embrasure once cleaned and painted into their fort. No official website but follow this link for details of their bunker.
 

 

Tobruk Tobruk entrance Clearing Trenches
January 2008.  After successful negotiation with the Catel constables and other land owners, it has been possible to excavate a number of buried reinforced field order structures at Grantez Mill. It is now possible to access and view all the elements of Wn. Konigsmullen. 
 

 

November 2007.  Generous sponsorship is received from Norman Piette Ltd.
 

 

February/ March 2007. Armoured turret bunker at Rocquaine secured.

 

 

February 2007.  A delegation from Festung Guernsey attend a States Probation Service presentation; this led to a formal agreement to utilize and supervise work parties available from this scheme. This partnership has been very successful.
 

 

April 2006. Vale Castle trench system is excavated with help from the local Army Cadet Force. This work was assisted by Matt Harvey from the States of Guernsey Museum services. The work continued throughout the summer and autumn.  Further details at Vale Castle page.

 

 

February 2006. Bob Froome and Sons Ltd, offer practical sponsorship to projects by providing earth moving plant and mobile crane facilities.

 

 

November/December 2005.  Festung Guernsey launches its website, it has been well received, will continue to evolve and attains a substantial number of hits and enquiries. It will progressively achieve reciprocal links with other important websites.

 

 

October 2005.   Festung Guernsey is formed by a number of enthusiasts wishing to actively  restore or conserve important WWII fortifications.

Sponsors of Festung Guernsey

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Guernsey's leading plant hire, earth moving and demolition contractors. Tel: 237466

 

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Powder Coating Solutions of Guernsey specialises in high quality powder coating on a wide variety of metal and aluminium surfaces and products.   Tel: 07781 100511
   

German Occupation Museum

The German Occupation Museum is an evocative display chronicling life while Guernsey was in the grip of the German army between 1940 and 1945.  Visitors can explore the Military Room, the Prison and the Occupation Kitchen as well as a full-size street scene, all of which bring the hardship of everyday life during this time into sharp focus. Modern technology helps convey the experiences of the islanders during the occupation and a vast number of unique Second World War relics are on display.
 

 

GMVG

Guernsey Military Vehicle Group

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