German Bunker Opened for the First Time on British Territory

  • A British history group, Festung Guernsey, unsealed a German bunker for the first time since World War Two.
  • During World War Two, the Channel Islands were the only British territory taken over by Nazi forces
  • Hitler’s soldiers helped to build fortresses and bunkers across the islands – some of them are yet to be uncovered. 

After invading the Channel Islands the Nazi Party’s construction wing, Organisation Todt, built bunkers to repel potential attacks by Allied Forces. During the war, the Channel Islands remained the only part of the British Crown to be occupied by the Germans.

Guernsey, one of the islands in the Channel, received special treatment. It had the largest artillery pieces, and housed approximately 12,000 troops – two for every civilian. In comparison, France saw one German soldier per 80 inhabitants!

Films like “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)” – starring Lily James – have attempted to depict the German invasion. However, such films fail to portray the grim reality.

The German bunker and tunnels that look almost exactly like they did in 1945 @Festung Guernsey/Facebook

People of the Channel Islands often share agonising stories of German concentration camps where they were forced into hard labour. By the end of the five-year-long occupation, much of the population was on the brink of starvation.

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Currently, many of the German bunkers – now museums –  are open to tourists. Nevertheless, some still remain closed, with their secrets locked inside. Recently, Festung Guernsey uncovered one of the previously unexplored bunkers and revealed its intriguing concrete structure.

History Group Festung Guernsey

German bunker
There is still plenty to uncover before the bunker can be fully restored and opened to the public. Credit: Festung Guernsey/Facebook

In Guernsey, a local history group started excavating a fortification that had been untouched for decades. The group successfully unsealed the coastal L’Ancresse 631b fortification. It is one of the many structures built by slave labour under the watchful eyes of Organisation Todt.

According to ITV News, following the excavation, the group discovered a long tunnel underground leading to the remains of a fixed gun emplacement. It was just one of many bunkers that were part of Hitler’s famous Atlantic Wall, which pointed directly toward England’s South coast located 70 miles across the sea.

The room contained gas pipes, phone cables, and German military signage. In addition, the bunker’s walls displayed embedded black stenciled writing. A writing style synonymous with that of German documentaries is something that history geeks would recognize in an instant.

German soldiers invade the Channel Islands
Too close to home. German soldiers in the British Channel Islands, 1940s

Exploring the German bunker

Interestingly, the team found a peculiar German inscription on one of the bunker’s walls. It read “nack vorn” – meaning “naked front.” It could be possible that it was a reference to the location being the last Nazi fortification against the British army.

Additionally, a phrase in the gun room was used to warn the soldiers: “Achtung. Feind hört mit!” which translates to: “Warning. The enemy is listening!” and is similar to the British saying: “Careless talk costs lives.”

Another inscription reads, “Eingangsverteidigung” – meaning “Defence entrance”.

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Part of the Atlantic Wall
Parts of the Atlantic Wall built by Organisation Todt still exist on the Channel Islands.

According to coordinator Paul Bourgaize, the team also found a pulley in a brick-walled room. The soldiers used it to lift an armoured shield to protect the bunker’s outermost wall.

Bourgaize said, “Four or five soldiers would have manned the operation, with a few others to help load and unload the guns.” A pipe ventilation system that supplied oxygen to the soldiers below remains in place.

“These would have been ready to be fitted with anti-gas filters in the event of a gas attack,” added Bourgaize.

You can follow the Festung Guernsey on Facebook.