Jersey War Tunnels is no ordinary attraction; it is a spine-chilling reminder of a dark time in Jersey’s history.
RESISTANCE & LIBERATION
During World War II, the Crown left Jersey defenceless and the Island became occupied by German forces. As a result, Jersey War Tunnels are a product of five long years of Occupation; they bore witness to the particular cruelty of the Nazi regime.
Dug deep into the hillside by forced and slave workers from nations across Europe, the extraordinary tunnels run over 1km in length. They now contain an underground collection of thought-provoking galleries that detail Jersey’s occupation history from resistance, through to starvation, and then of course, their eventual liberation.
Visit the Jersey War Tunnels website, where you will learn fascinating insights into Jersey’s wartime history. You will be able to see an interactive map displaying the 23 distinct areas of the Tunnels.
Discover the stories of the local population, which endured five years of hardship. Find out more about their individual stories here. The website also features a special map which shows you the changing face of Europe through the war and when countries were invaded and occupied. You’ll never believe this happened on British soil.
Here are the areas that are waiting to be explored:
1. ENTRANCE TUNNEL
The imposing, cavernous entrance tunnel takes you deep into the hillside. You’ll be faced with a Stug tank named ‘Hedwig’ – a replica of Germany’s most produced armoured fighting vehicle during WWII – and drawn into a stunningly realistic wartime diorama.
2. THREATENED ISLAND
The dark clouds of war were gathering across Europe. Jersey, lying isolated in the English Channel did not see the threats growing on the horizon. Threatened Island gives you a taste of life in Jersey in the years leading up to the outbreak of war.
3. TO LEAVE OR TO STAY?
As the UK announced that it would not defend the Channel Islands, residents were faced with an impossible choice – to stay and face the unknown enemy or to go, leaving behind families, friends and possessions.
4. FIRST CONTACT
German troops poured in by their thousands. Jersey and its sister islands were firmly under the jackboot. ‘First Contact’ recounts those initial days and months of uncertainty as the occupied learned to live with their occupiers.
5. THE BOILER ROOM
Displaying the original heating equipment, the boiler room gives a very real sense of the types of technology employed in the construction of these tunnels.
6. THE PAPER WAR
With little physical resistance to deal with, it wasn’t long before the German command began interfering in daily life. It’s main weapon – a formidable bureaucracy, generating new laws and orders on a daily basis.
7. OPERATING THEATRE
Like a macabre set from a horror film, the operating theatre contains all the equipment that German surgeons would have used as HO8 changed purpose from a barracks to a hospital.
8. DAILY LIFE
As restrictions and shortages increased, daily life for islanders clearly became more difficult. This gallery is a replica of an Occupation House and gives clear insight into the make do and mend mentality that kept residents going throughout the dark years of occupation.
9. AIR RAID SHELTER
Step inside a replica air raid shelter to get a feel for the conditions, noises and bleakness of the situation faced by Islanders of the occupation.
10. TELEPHONE EXCHANGE
All land lines terminated in this communication centre. The German Underground Hospital was part of a network linking battle head quarters and other command posts. In the event of an invasion all would have been kept up to date with battle and casualty reports.
11. HEAD STOREMAN’S OFFICE
The head storeman was responsible for ensuring the hospital was fully equipped and prepared.
12. WHISPERS AND LIES
Under occupation, accepted realities change for good. Can neighbours and friends still be trusted? Trust is everything in a small community; Whispers and Lies gives you an idea of how things change when huge strains are placed on the bonds that hold people together.
13. COOPERATION AND RESISTANCE
Nothing is as it seems and choices are hard to make. What do you do? Cooperation and Resistance looks at the dilemmas faced by everyone involved, from the UK government to the island’s leaders and islanders in their daily lives. How do you resist when you have no weapons?
14. CAP VERDE ENTRANCE
On the other side of the hill, the Cap Verde entrance helps you understand the sheer scale of the excavation. Adjacent to the entrance, pipework from the original air conditioning system, shows how the occupying forces deployed the latest technologies in the operation of Ho8.
15. UNFINISHED TUNNEL
Men toiled with picks and shovels, loading the rocks into trolleys and pushing them back up to the tunnel entrance. In the semi-dark and the damp, with the constant fear of rock falls, this backbreaking work went on in 12-hour shifts. Furthermore, you experience it all through an interactive audio-visual experience in the unfinished tunnel itself.
16. ORGANISATION TODT
Named after its founder, this prolific engineering organisation therefore changed the face of Europe forever. Here, you can learn more about the organisation, it’s methods and the people who, willingly or not, worked to build Hitler’s Atlantic Wall.
17. FORTRESS ISLAND
Far in excess of their military significance, the Channel Islands used one twelfth of reinforced concrete for the entire Atlantic wall. Deploying the Channel Islands’ resources more reasonably could have doubled the strength of the Atlantic wall, and had a profound effect on the Allied advance.
18. HOSPITAL BED WARD
Jersey War Tunnels were originally built as an artillery repair facility and barracks store. In 1944, fearing an assault on Jersey, the Germans had the complex converted into a casualty receiving station.
19. UNDER SIEGE
After D-day, the Channel Islands were cut off from all supply routes through France. The last year of the war was characterised by hunger and desperation.
20. DESPERATE TIMES
In the final months of Liberation, it was of course no surprise that Islanders became desperate. Food shortages were acute and not only that, they did not know when the war would end, the Island entered its darkest times.
Certainly, the event that islanders will never forget: 9 May 1945. Finally after five years of occupation, British forces arrived to free the Channel Islands. Scenes of happiness and relief characterised this most wonderful of days.
After Liberation this was of course a time of deep reflection for the Island. This final gallery also gives you pause for thought and a moment to think about the true effects of the Occupation.
23. UNFINISHED TUNNEL
Of course, the damp, dark conditions give a sense of the misery and danger faced by the unfortunate slave workers whose hands dug these tunnels.
See it, feel it, believe it, at Jersey War Tunnels.
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