We woke on the Saturday of our holiday to a very heavy downpour of rain. We had already seen the forecast and had planned one of the places we had definitely wanted to visit for a day that was either very wet or very hot! Upon arrival at the tunnels and paying the entrance fee we were presented with copies of two Jersey identity cards. – read on to part four to discover why!
The signs outside, with engraved captions of the time are very powerful. Especially the one that reads “British Subjects will be evacuated and transferred to Germany”.
The tunnels were built between 1941 and 1945 by forced and slave labour. The tunnels are complex and were initially built as bomb and gas proof storage and repair facility and then later converted to a hospital with capacity for 500 beds, which was never used.
There is a rather foreboding atmosphere, almost an historical sense of doom. As you enter through into the first exhibition it tells the story of Jersey, seen initially as the spot that you could visit safely whilst Europe was at War. The Islanders, I do not believed for one minute thought that they would be invaded. After all, the fortifications that had kept the island safe from the French for hundreds and hundreds of years would keep them safe….No! Then there is the sound, yes, just the sounds of planes above and the obviously sounds of war. The effects are very good and it heightens the reflections that this is the noise that the islands would have heard.
Having arrived on the island, there were a whole series of things that had to be complied with. Radios were to be handed it, those of Jewish descent were to make themselves known. There was rationing, with the islanders living on very little food.
|Jar of Sugar Beet made during the German Occupation. Dated 1942.|