Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Storage Dimensions?

Believe it or not, I hadn't accurately measured the dimensions of the bunker until today. I'm posting a cross-sectional diagram, together with a scale MX5 / Eunos / Miata in there for the Pistonheads! After all, there is a roadway leading down into it underneath all those rocks !

So, the tunnel itself is 120 inches (10 feet) wide at the entrance (measured between the concrete base walls), tapering in slightly to around 115 inches wide at the rear. Its 96 inches (8 feet) high to the centre of the ceiling arch, and slightly lower at the rear (the floor slopes to the entrance, presumably for drainage).

Lengthwise it is 60 feet (easy accommodation for 4 Miata!).

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Noirmont Point

Well, whilst I'm keen to continue excavations, having spoken to the diggermen, for one reason or another, because of holidays and work commitments, I'm not going to be able to get the heavy machinery back on site until the beginning of August. It's a little dissappointing, but cannot be helped.

In the meantime I've been continuing my research, and it's beginning to become apparent that the area around my house is littered with the remnants of its previous Luftwaffe occupants. I've found that there were at least six other smaller structures like mine in the valley, together with underground and overground armouries, a whole load of above ground workshops and stores, hidden tunnels used as personnel shelters, and makeshift field gun emplacements hidden ominously out of sight in the tree lined hedgerows - guarding the entrance road to the valley. The trouble is that, according to the historians, whilst the Germans were meticulous note-keepers, much of the Luftwaffe paperwork from the Occupation of this Island is unfortunately missing (unlike the Infantry and Marine Korps, about which records seem to abound).

As I have no new pictures or progress from the garden to add today, I thought I'd make a quick visit today to one of the impressive Kriegsmarine Command Bunkers on the coast, on a headland called Noirmont (Black Hill), which overlooks the main port.

Most of the German defences found at Noirmont were part of the Marine Batterie Lothringen, which includes 6 Ständige Flak bunkers, together with an imposing M 132 fire controlpost / Marine Peilstand 1. There are numerous other smaller bunkers including crew shelters and ammunition stores which connect to the open gun emplacements. Many of these buildings have been fastidiously preserved and maintained by the Channel Island Occupation Society.

This is the naval range finder sitting atop the complex, which is itself configured a little like a warship buried into the headland.

Behind this is the entrance, with steps leading down into the multi-levelled complex.

Some of the rooms inside:

One of the batterie flak emplacements with adjacent underground ammunition bunker:-

Another gun emplacement:

And the Watchtower again:

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Digging can resume!

So the Planning authorities have now come back and confirmed that they are happy for me to continue removing the rock spoil from the bunker entrance and access road. Where's the number for the diggerman? A little bit more preparation and I'll be ready for phase 2.

I also had a visit from mrmaggit, a pistonheader who's been following the story and was this week over here on holiday. He even managed to pose infront of the bunker in his "What would Dave do?" T-shirt.

More Dave T-shirts as seen on

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Local Myth and Legend

The Island is full of stories about hidden wartime tunnels. This even extends to stories of U-boat pens underwater on the north coast. When Jersey was a popular holiday destination in the 60s and 70s, the coach drivers taking holiday-makers around on tours would embellish these rumours for best effect. I've tried not to do this with my blog, and just to present the facts as I find them.

However, there is one local legend which I have had cause to consider whilst investigating the wartime history of the property. That is because the legend, on closer investigation, actually concerns the property (as it existed in the war)! Perhaps the best way to tell the story is to paraphrase from a fairly old piece of local historical research that I traced in one of the museums here, which contains several paragraphs debunking some of the local tunnel myths. After those paragraphs, it continues along the following lines:-

NOTE: For the sake of this post I have changed the name of the published property address, which in the original text is the same name as my neighbour's house.

"All these stories are firmly believed in by the gullible. Perhaps the best illustration of imaginary tunnels came from a gentleman who insisted that, as a small child, he had regularly played in a tunnel which commenced in the front garden of a house called [the Granary], and ran right through to [another adjacent valley], a distance of some three quarters of a mile; he claimed he had regularly traversed the entire length of this tunnel. Attempts made to tell him otherwise were to no avail. He was adamant, and added that as the owner was worried about accidents, he had caused the tunnel roof to be blown in at 3 different places. "If you don't believe me, ask him!".

We did, and the former owner of [the Granary] roared with laughter! The alleged tunnel was nothing more that a half round steel shelter (which admittedly looked like a small tunnel entrance from the outside) which may be seen from the road and is now partly used as a garage, and partly as a wood store. It is about 30 feet long. He was able to relate that when his father in law [the father of the previous owner of my house] purchased the property as long ago as 1946, even then there were stories of german weapons concealed behind a false wall at the rear of his shelter; to clear up the matter the Royal Engineers, who were still working in the Island at the time, were asked to investigate. They did, and after much hammering and probing, were able to report that the rear of the shelter consisted of nothing but solid rock. Despite this, local folklore still insists there is a concealed tunnel"

Now, as I have already said, my neighbour's property does indeed have the small half round round steel shelter that is about 30 feet long, as described above.

What is interesting though, is that there is no mention of any checks being carried out or investigation being undertaken in the quarry behind the main house at the "Granary", in what is now, and undoubtedly was at the time that the aforesaid research was published, the part of the original "Granary" land that had been sold off to form my (quite separate) property!

Don't you just love myth and legend?

Friday, 4 July 2008

shhhh...Don't tell my wife

Another Shrub has been sacrified.

Now you see it...

Now you don't.

Having measured up underground, I think that the odd little piece of wall to the left of the steps in the centre of these pictures is perhaps going to have the air vent leading up out from the end of the tunnel inside. Just need to get the spade out next. (That bush looked a bit sick anyway).

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Identifying the guns

Last night I met a very knowledgable chap from the Firearms Council (who also happens to be called David). He visited the house to see the bunker, and brought with him his very rare early Lee Enfield Mark 1 militia rifle, to use as comparison with the two weapons found in the tunnel.

Unfortunately we couldn't pick up the gun nearest the entrance as it has over the years become fused to the floor!

However David immediately recognised it as an early Mark 1 "long" gun, dating from the end of the 19th century. Apparently these were often used as sniping rifles during the first world war.

The weapon that was located further inside the tunnel we removed to make a direct comparison with the Mark 1 "short" gun that David had brought along. His particular gun is rare in that it had been specifically issued to the Island Militia. It had its original bayonet.

On the basis that the gun from the tunnel had a bridge (seen at the back of the breach), David concluded (as many others already have) that it was a Mark 3 Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE), and that the stock had obviously at some stage been forcibly knocked off.

Dave was on hand to preside over proceedings.

I was also able to recount to the others a conversation I'd had earlier in the day with another member of the 1960's Tunnel clearance team (which I've already previously mentioned). On this occasion I managed to talk to a specialist diver who'd been a member of the crew. This man did have a clear recollection of visiting the site now occupied by my neighbours and my property in the 1960s. He said that the visit came about because of a rumour that the fence posts in the garden of the property were all made of old WW2 rifle barrels! (This happens to be a modern day piece of local folklore - one which David had heard before).
Anyway, when the diver and the team turned up, there apparently did indeed find about 40 to 50 wartime rifle barrels being used in the garden for fencing and these were collected up as part of the Island wide clear up.
He said that he were also told by the then lady owner of the neighbours house about a large wooden armoury that had existed at the property immediately after the war, which had been full of munitions. These had been removed and the wooden shed sold to a farmer.

He also recounted that they had checked the neighbour's tunnel while on site, and had been told by the then owner of another tunnel that had already been covered over. I asked him whether he was able to find anything out about this second tunnel and whether it was perhaps on my property. He said that the lady owner had told him the second tunnel had for a short time after the war been used to store the large amount of the guns collected up from the armoury, before they were moved again (by whom he wasn't sure) and the tunnel was then blocked up.
I asked if she had told him how it was blocked? Apparently she had explained to him that the gardener had put some beehives inside and then covered the entrance and made a rockery! Because of this, he said that his team didn't actually check behind the neighbours house in the area where my property is located. Instead they took the lady at her word that the tunnel was secure.
Finally he said that he had heard that an underground chamber had later been found that was full of mausers!

So what can be gleaned from this story? Well, I suppose the bee hive part of it could be said to check out - as we found a rotten old hive inside our tunnel! But, and this is a big but I think, I'm extremely sceptical about the suggestion that a gardener in the nineteen forties could have "covered the entrance with some rocks", after all, do you remember that huge boulder that we couldn't move with all our modern equipment? And the massive landscaping required to fill in the entrance road is hardly "making a rockery"?

There must be literally be hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of tons of rock spread out around on the northern face of the quarry which doesn't appear to be there in the wartime aerials. So....perhaps there is another similar sort of tunnel somewhere nearby on the neighbours land? Or perhaps the story about the gardener is wrong, afterall, it was recounted in the 1960s, perhaps not even by the owner who lived there imediately after the war?

And what about those Mausers? If I'm only hearing about their discovery now, I imagine they're long gone.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

"Lego" Garden Bunker Set

Forget "Lego" Indiana Jones! The Crystal Skull wasn't great anyway. Treat your kids to a Garden Bunker boxset instead, complete with Nazi tunnel, Dave and CY88 figurines, Bob the Boulder, and that all important light stick (Digger not included).

Credit to Mr_Fibuli @

Forward Planning

There's couple of reasons why I've not been excavating any further at the moment.

Firstly, the fact I've got a full time job and family tends to occupy a large proportion of the daylight hours.

Secondly Dave, who's been assisting me to date, has been off on holidays again.

Thirdly, I have had to seek advice from the authorities regarding any further works, from a planning point of view. Many people have said I should just crack on and not get them involved, but I'm afraid that I can't risk getting into any legal difficulties with my property over this. I don't live in the middle of nowhere unfortunately. In any event, I don't foresee that there will ultimately be any problems, just a slight delay.

Lastly, but perhaps most interestingly, the increased exposure of the story, by way of the TV news article locally, and this blog (which has now attracted over half a million hits in a fortnight or so) has led various people to get in touch with me, including several historians and other people who, either personally, or through family and friends, have information about the tunnel and the site itself.

I've already met with some of these people, but have other meetings planned for the next few days. Some of the information that is filtering through is very exciting indeed, and hopefully once I've starting sorting it into some sense and order, I'll be able to share.