Visit A Bunker

Jersey's German Tunnels

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For our member event this month, we were pleased to visit the substantial Ho 4 tunnel complex above Grands Vaux Reservoir. Constructed by the Deutsche Asphalt Company using French, North African, and later Russian forced labourers during WW2, it sits nearly empty and unused today. The northern entrance is blocked by rockfall and vegetation however the southern entrance is open and leads to a Jersey Water storage yard.

Massive thanks are due to Jersey Water for not only granting access, but for opening up on a Saturday morning and spending several hours assisting us whilst our tour was underway.

A total of 70 Society members showed up for the visit, fifteen of which were new members signed up on the day. The sheer number of visitors walking around with torches made for some interesting photos! Handouts were provided with excerpts from Society publications and historic maps, and members were allowed to explore the entire site in self-guided groups.

Several of the connecting tunnels in the centre of the complex are blocked off by rock falls, described here in an excerpt from Jersey's German Tunnels:

On 28th April 1943, Sinel recorded that a premature explosion in a tunnel in Grands Vaux resulted in several casualties being taken to hospital, but this did not necessarily occur in Ho 4 as two other tunnels (Ho 10 and Ho 12) were being excavated simultaneously in Grands Vaux. However, a severe roof-fall occurred in Ho 4 and this penetrated right through to the surface with consequent interruption to agriculture in a field belonging to Augrès Farm, where a large pit suddenly appeared. This roof-fall is doubtless the reason for the blocked off gallery in the centre of the complex.

After being cleared of ammunition by the British Army in 1946, the tunnels were used for many years by Jersey Potato Canners. More interestingly, under the emergency planning provisions for dealing with the anticipated swine flu pandemic in 2010, Ho 4 would have been pressed into service as a mortuary.

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We have added an online renewal option for 2017.

You may now join or renew your membership online, or download and print an application to post and renew by cheque or standing order as before.

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2017 Events Calendar

January
Film: "Hitler's Island Madness"
Wednesday 11th
8.00pm, Société Jersiaise Members’ Room
Local History Fayre
Saturday 28th
12:30pm, Jersey Library
February
Hohlgangsanlagen Tour
Saturday 4th
10:00am, Ho4 Grands Vaux
March
Annual General Meeting
Wednesday 8th
8.00pm, Société Jersiaise Members’ Room
April
Jersey Archive Tour
Advance booking required
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May
Liberation Day
Tuesday 9th
June
Walk: "Heroes of the German Occupation"
Sunday 11th
With Blue Badge Guide Martin Walton
July
Saint-Malo Day Trip
Saturday 22nd
Advance booking required
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Please download a membership application and return it to the address provided. Members joining after 1st November automatically qualify for the next year.

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Trespass Warning

A word of warning to those who may wish to visit the Channel Islands’ Occupation sites. Most of the bunkers, gun pits and defences are on private property, and if you want to have a look, first obtain permission from the owner. Do not enter without a strong torch or lamp. There are different designs of defences that, from the outside look the same, but once inside, passages may descend without warning. Also wellington boots may be needed as over fifty years of dirt and dust will have blocked up the drains. We would warn you that bunkers on the coast will have been used as unofficial toilets - so beware! Young persons should not enter without an adult, as many bunkers have awkward steps and hidden ducts that can trip the unwary. Bunkers and tunnels that are sealed have been blocked up for this reason and for no other - those of you who hope to find an “Aladdin’s Cave” of war relics are too late, having been beaten to it by the scrap metal drive of the early 1950s.

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