The end of the busy summer season means that the commencement of this year's 'winter work' in the form of restoration and maintenance can be undertaken by the CIOS bunker teams.
Things have certainly been busy for Malcolm Amy and his small team of dedicated volunteers at Stp. Corbiere, who have been working most Friday evenings since late September with a joint focus on the 10.5cm Jaegerstand Type casemate 'K2' (K=Kanone) and the Early Type 633 M19 fortress mortar bunker (linked by a connecting tunnel to a neighbouring Type 634 Sechsschartentürm).
In the M19 bunker, which is unique to Jersey, work has focused on the continued reconstruction and completion of a replica M19 mortar including its protective turret to recreate what this complex weapon would have looked like when it was operational. Several new displays are also being added to explain the function of this rare weapon. Keep an eye out for the stack of fire wood stored under the lower platform (as recalled by the bunker's former commander) when the bunker is open next summer!
The original 10.5cm K331(f) gun mounted in 'K2' has also been de-rusted and is currently being repainted. It is hoped to have the traverse fully reinstated so visitors will be able to sit on the gun and look through the sight while operating the weapon's movement! The gun room's wooden T & G panelling is also being altered to expose several original telephone communication mounting points and the various fittings will be replaced for next season.
Some new 'In their footsteps' displays depicting events that actually happened are also planned for next season including the M19's Commander (The late Herr Engelbert Hoppe) being ushered ahead to set off any potential booby traps (!) by a visiting British Officer just after the Liberation.
The CIOS Committee has also been assisting with putting an interpretation panel together which has been created to allow visitors to better understand and interpret the site.
November 2015, the annual trip by the Concrete Evidence Team and CIOS Members this year decided to go off the beaten track to discover some less well known structures.
First, was the AOK 7 (Armee Oberkommando 7) HQ bunker in Le Mans. With very grateful thanks to the immensely knowledgeable and friendly Hugo Soulet and the team at the AOK7 Association. A highly unique Type 608 Bunker built for no lesser person than Generaloberst Freidrich Dollman the commander of the 7th Army, which the Channel Islands were a sub-ordinate part of!
The story of this bunker is as compelling as the fact that this isn't a "restoration job" as might be perceived, in fact this bunker has one of the highest percentages of complete, intact original fittings one could hope to find. Only very minor and discrete additions have been sympathetically made, making this an absolute joy for any serious bunker enthusiast, think Millbrook for authenticity....but bigger and with no paint applied! In our harsh coastal environment rust and corrosion is the norm, well in this humble 608 many doors, embrasures, fixtures and fittings all move with effortless ease. As Hugo put it himself "No Grease", and it is true, the structure is so good there is practically no lubrication on some of the metalwork because quite simply...none is needed the Leichte Stahlschartenplatte für MG 483P2 were great to use as normally they are discovered rusted up!
A highly recommended visit to a little known and truly original bunker. Credit and thanks to Hugo and his team not only for keeping it going, but realising and making the brave decision to keep it as the time capsule it is...inspired work!
Next, the FdU Bunkers at Angers (Führer des U-Boots). When the progress of war became more threatening to the Kriegmarine, Admrial Doenitz was forced to consider relocation first to Paris in 1942 and then to Angers in 1943. 10 extremely large and unique bunkers with serious history behind them reside in the ground of a Chateau near Pignerolles in Angers.
The team didn't quite know what they were getting into and a friendly guide in the shape of Christophe Marquet from the Association Des Bunker Anger spent several hours in the pouring rain giving our guests a first class tour of the grounds and special access to some truly unique bunker types that even their Association cannot currently classify! Indeed there were both design elements and metalwork features that completely departed from most Coastal installations one sees. The who area had a feel of immense size and huge A-Graded Strength constructions that one could easily associate should be for the Leader of the U-Boats.
Opulence was understated, or not as the case may be. Doenitz had his own room in the Chateau and a very long private tunnel leading to his own personal command bunker (called the Admiral Bunker), which to show to important it was became a Cold War command bunker for no less a personality than General Charles de Gaulle! In fact a few bunkers on the site retain their French Cold War fitting, which of course to Neil was a fantastic comparison to his UK knowledge of the subject. Immense bunkers, a custom built swimming pool for officers, secret tunnels, offered a Headquarter setup of serious proportion. There are question marks over the future of the Chateau as the museum there may close at the end of the year, who knows what will happen then, so whatever limited window available was taken.
German Resistance Nests Le Braye & La Carriere, and Action Post Höhe 201
Date: Sunday 27th March 2pm Location: Meet in front of Le Braye Café, St Brelade Difficulty: Easy, but with a short steep climb at the end Distance: 2 miles Duration: 3.5 hours Cost: £10.00 PP
This tour with CIOS Guide Tony Pike, visits some of the first fortifications to be built during the Occupation - looking at anti-tank walls and entering multiple bunkers under CIOS care.
Fully photographically interpreted with archive photographs, with a history of the extensive minefields and a walk up the sand dunes to an observation post that has panoramic views over St Ouen’s Bay.
German Strongpoint Corbiere
Date: Sunday 3rd April 2pm Location: Meet at the top ice cream kiosk car park, St Brelade Difficulty: Easy Distance: 0.5 miles Duration: 2.5 hours Cost: £10.00 PP
Join CIOS Guide Tony Pike to look at German fortifications, above and below ground! There is a unique M19 mortar bunker which has been renovated to a very high standard, and is connected by a tunnel to a machine-gun bunker, plus a restored casemate that retains its original 10.5cm coastal defence gun, and a well-preserved Type 606 searchlight bunker.
This tour includes interior visits to the M19 Mortar & 10.5cm Jäger Casemate bunker. Interpreted with Archive Photographs & including a guide booklet.
German Strongpoint Plemont
Date: Saturday, 23 April 2.30pm Location: Meet at bus stop in main car park, St Ouen Difficulty: Moderate with one inclined section Distance; 0.5 miles Duration 1.5 hours Cost: £5.00 PP
CIOS Guide Matthew Costard, will take you on a tour of the German fortifications of Strongpoint Plemont. The clearance of the former holiday camp has uncovered several Occupation structures that were previously inaccessible, and the walk, which will be fully interpreted with photographic archive material, will provide a fascinating insight into their design and function.
The German Defences of Ouaisné and St Brelade's Bay
Date: Sunday 24th April at 2pm Location: Meet at Ouaisné beach public car park, St Brelade Difficulty: Mainly easy with short moderate climb Distance: 2.5 miles Duration: 2.5 - 3 hours Cost: £10.00 PP
The walk with CIOS Guide Alex Fearn will include a review of the German infantry defence positions and bunkers which lined the bay and will cover the strongpoint, resistance nests and minefields which formed part of the defensive network, using period photographs and reports.
The geology, flora and fauna will be explained together with the other landmarks being La Cotte, the Conway towers, St Brelade's Church together with the German soldier rest houses, German graveyard and a WWII plane crash site. This walk will take in the entire sweep of the two bays.
Tour of the German Kriegsmarine Batterie Lothringen and American PT 509 memorial ceremony
Date: Sunday 8th May 1.30pm Location: Meet at Noirmont Point car park, St Brelade Difficulty: Easy Distance: 2 miles Duration: 3 hours Cost: £10.00 PP
Batterie Lothringen was the only German naval artillery battery to be established in Jersey during the Occupation, and once sprawled over the whole Noirmont headland - which today is the Island’s official war memorial. CIOS Guide Tony Pike will lead the walk, which will include a visit to the restored Type M132 Command Bunker, as well as the various gun emplacements and shelters.
A PT 509 memorial ceremony, conducted by CIOS Guide Alex Fearn, will take place at 3pm as part of the Batterie Lothringen tour. This memorial is the only one dedicated to PT boat action anywhere in the world and is located just to the east of the main car park.
Interpreted with Archive Photographs & including a guide booklet.
The German Heer Batterie Moltke & walk to the German Kriegsmarine MP3 radar tower
Date: Monday 9th May (Liberation Day) 2pm Location: Meet at Batterie Moltke car park , Les Landes Common, St Ouen Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles Duration: 4 hours Cost: £10.00 PP including guide booklet.
Batterie Moltke is a very large series of artillery gun emplacements and underground complexes. The No.4 gun position has been under CIOS care since 1979 – it has been renovated and interpreted to a very high standard, and even has an original gun on display!
Batterie Moltke’s CIOS Team Leader, Tony Pike, will give an unrivalled fully guided tour of the fortifications, culminating in a visit to the unique, impressive MP3 observation and radar tower.
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.