Graf Von Schmettow Interview

Graf Von Schmettow Interview
Our research is generally based on local or allied documentation, but this is an interesting account from the German point of view. The US Army in 1948 ask Schmettow for an account of the Channel Islands from occupation to surrender. Below is our translated version.

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The Channel Islands

Preparation of the Defence Against the Invasion & During the Invasion until the Surrender

1. Extent of Command
2. Distribution of the Forces
3. The 319th Infantry Division
4. The Mission of the Occupation Troops
5. The Occupation of the Channel Islands in July 1940 until the arrival of the 319th Infantry Division in June 1941
6. The Final Reinforcements for the Islands
7. How the Construction of the Fortresses was begun
8. The Organisation of the Construction
9. The Employment of Tactical Principles
10. The First Period of Construction
11. The Second Period of Construction
12. The Troops During the Construction Period
13. Supplies and Stores
14. The Military Administration of the Islands
15. The Events Before the Invasion
16. The Channel Islands During the Invasion
17. The Supply During the Invasion
18. Change of Command During the Period of the Invasion
19. Conclusion

1. Extent of Command

Before and during the invasion the occupation troops of all branches of the Wehrmacht on the island of Guernsey, Jersey Alderney and Sark were subordinated to the Commander of the Channel Islands.

Commander of the Channel Islands:
Major General Graf von Schmettow - Until February 20th 1945

Admiral Huffmeier - Until surrender

Fortress commanders

Guernsey - Commander of Channel Islands

Jersey - Colonel Heine, until the end of February 1945 Brigadier General Wulf

Major Schwahn

Reinforced 319th Infantry Division
Commander General Count Von Schmettow, September 1943 to February 26th 1945, Brigadier General Wulf Until Surrender

Luftwaffe commander of the Channel Islands:

Brigadier General Dini as Commander of Flak Brigade

Naval Commander of the Channel Islands

Admiral Huffmeier with subordinate port commanders and Naval coastal batteries, and the light naval forces, arriving after the beginning of the invasion.

Fortress engineer section II/II with subordinate fortress division construction Battalion 158.

Military Administration Headquarters 515

Superior Headquarters:
LXXXIV Army Corps, St Lo

Commanding General: General dear Artillerie Marks.

Organisation of the 319th Infantry Division

Strengths about 28,000 men at the time of the surrender in May 1945

Guernsey 13,000
Jersey 11,500
Alderney 3,300

2. Distribution of the Forces

Headquarters of the 319th Infantry Division, at the same time fortress commander and commander of the Channel Islands with Hqs Co and MP Platoon
Division Quartermaster
Infantry Regiment 583 minus IId Ben Which had been assigned to the eastern front; Subordinate Georgian Infantry Rn 883
Infantry Regiment 584 minus IId BN, Which was on Alderney.
Mobile Bn 450
Hqs of Div Bn 319 with two companies
Hqs of Fortress Enginer Construction Bn 158 with one Company
Hqs of Signal Bn 319 with two companies and Fortress Cable Platoon
Hqs Tank Bn 213 with one Company
Hqs of GHQ Coast Artillery Regiment 1265 as Division Artillery Commander with IIId and the IV Bn of Artillery Regiment 1265 (minus 12th Bn, which was on Alderney) and IIId and IVth Bns of Artillery Regiment 319 (minus 11th Barry on Alderney) Army Flak Platoon 543.
Supply Troops
HQS Quartermaster
Supply company, Bakers, Butchers, etc
One-half Medical Company
Meteorological Platoon 319
HQS of Flak Brigade, with Flak Bn 292 Hqs and 6 Medium and 10 Light Batteries
Signal communication unit (Luftwaffe) - (Wuerz Riese)
HQS of Naval Commander
With port commanders of one harbour defence flotilla and harbour control points. Hqs of Naval coast Artillery Bn with one 30.5 cm Batterie "Mirus"
One 22cm Batterie (French) Two 15cm Batteries
Fortress engineer Section II/II Hqs

Hqs of Fortress commander with HQs company
Infantry Regiment 582, with subordinate "East" Bn 643
HQs of MG Bn 16 - Five companies
Mobile Bn 319
1st Company of Engineer Bn 319, and one engineer column
One company of Fortress Engineer Construction Bn 158
1st Company of Signal Bn 319 with Cable Platoon
Hqs of artillery Regiment 319 as artillery commander with regiment HQs Btry and 1st and IID Bns of Artillery Regiment 319, and 1st and IId BNs of GHQ
Coast Artillery Regiment 1265
Army Flak Platoon 503
One 15cm Naval Coast Batterie
Hqs of division supply troops of 319
One supply company, butchers bakers etc
One Half medical company
Hqs of Flak Bn with 6 medium and 10 light batteries
Port commander HS Flotilla
Harbour control Point
Military Administration Headquarters 515

Headquarters of Fortress Commander with HQs Company
IId Bn of Infantry Regiment 584
3d company of Engineer Bn 319 (Transferred to Cotentin before invasion)
One company of Fortress Engineer Construction Bn 158
One Signal Platoon
11th company of Artillery Regiment 319
12th company of GHQ Coast Artillery Regiment 1265
One harbour blocking battery
Hqs of Naval Coast Artillery Bn
One 17cm Naval coast battery
One 15cm Naval coast battery
Hqs Flak Bn
Four Medium and six light batteries
Port Commander with Harbour Security Flotilla
One Platoon of Signal Company
Medical Unit

Island commander & Company commander of reinforced 2nd Bn584
One 8.8cm Naval coast battery

3. The 319th Infantry Division

Before Christmas of 1940 it was activated in Thuringia as the 13th Wave of conscription. Its composition was that of an ordinary infantry division.

Parts of its units had taken part in the French campaign, the greater parts were new formations with active cadres and numerous battle experienced officers and NCO's.

The MG Battalion 16 was a unit of the frontier guards that had taken part in the French campaign

The GHQ Coast Artillery Regiment had been newly activated .

In the course of time the composition of forces underwent various changes. A large number of officers and NCO's that had no battle experience were exchanged for men that had gained experience in the east. Well-trained personnel was assigned to the east and recruits came in to the division for training.

Toward the end of 1943 the entire IId Bn of Infantry Regiment 583 was assigned to the East. It has fought excellently on the Crimean Peninsula.

With regard to the composition the most drastic measure was the large scale exchange, ordered 1943, of NCOs and men for older men belonging to divisions operating on the continent and permanently located there.

About 6,000 young well trained NCOs and men had to be exchanged for men that were much older and little trained , because some of the continental divisions did not have the fighting power necessary for carrying out counteroffensives.

Long careful training by means of numerous fortress weapons was required to reach the former level again.

By making exchanges within the division the younger men were assigned to the infantry and mobile battalions.

Because of lack of data the table of organisation cannot be given here. At the beginning, of the invasion there were no great gaps, I think, after the Italian volunteers had been assigned to the trains and supply services.

The stock of weapons, guns and tanks were complete.

In the view of the possible distances on the islands motorisation was not decisive, but there were sufficient motorised vechiles on the island. The mobile Bns were motorised anyhow. Reserve units, also one artillery unit were motorised with improvised means, especially on the largest island Jersey.

The division did not receive further reinforcements before the invasion. In the beginning the division, with the units subordinate to it, was fully equipped, well trained and completely fit for operations.

Instead of the battalion taken out in 1943 the Georgian Infantry Battalion 823 was assigned to Infantry Regiment 583 toward the end of 1943. On JErsey the Eastern Battalion 643 was assigned to Infantry Regiment 582.

After a certain period of training these battalions were committed to sectors of steep coast where they did their duty satisfactorily.

4. The Mission of the Occupation Troops

1. The islands were to be defended against any, even the strongest attack.
2. The sea east of the islands was to be blocked by means of the long range coast artillery, thereby securing the west coast of Cotentin against major landing operations of the enemy.
3. Securing the so-called "core route", so important for the navy, which led around the Cap de la Hague - between Alderney and the north western corner of Cotentin, between Guernsey and Jersey toward the western coast of France and its Atlantic ports.
4. Blocking the Entry into the gulf of Malo by cooperation with the medium batteries on Jobourg Peninsula and at the northern coast of Brittany.

5. The Occupation of the Channel Islands in July 1940 until the arrival of the 319th Infantry Division in June 1941

On June 30th Guernsey, and on the July 1, Jersey, 1940 were occupied without fighting, after the islands had been declared as demilitarised area by the British. They were occupied by two long range reconnaissance squadrons and small formations of the Army, which were brought over by Junkers transport planes. Soon afterwards the 216th Infantry Division detached a battalion under Major Lanz from the area of Cherbourg to the islands. Later it was replaced by the MG battalion 16. One Flak Bn was committed to Guernsey and Jersey to protect the long range reconnaissance squadrons.

Military administration was taken over by Military Administration Headquarters 515

Toward the end of September 1940 the AT Bn 652 was committed to Jersey, while the MG Bn took over the security of Guernsey, small parts of it protecting Alderney also. Alderney had been completely evacuated by the English.

On September 26, 1940 Colonel Graf Von Schmettow took over the command of all occupation troops on all islands in the capacity of "Commander of the British Channel Islands" .

From September 1940 on the occupation troops were reinforced by one battalion of the 216th infantry Division on Jersey and one on Guernsey, while one company assigned to Alderney.

In Fall 1940 one medium coast battery was assigned to each of the islands, which were built by the Navy in fortress type fashion. In Addition one 15cm battery of the Army (French) was assigned to Guernsey and one to Jersey. They were built on a concrete base in an improvised field type fashion.

After the long range reconnaissance squadron on Guernsey had left the island as early as 1940, the long range reconnaissance squadron Obernitz on Jersey was transferred to Sicily in February 1941. A half squadron of that group remained on Jersey for a short time.

In the spring the AT Bn 652 also left Jersey.

During this period the troops had built strongpoints, especially in the bays that were endangered by landings and has improved them by field type fortifications.

6. The Final Reinforcements for the Islands

From the beginning of June the 319th Infantry Division was being transferred to the islands. It was to be Permanently located there as occupation troops.

The commander of the division, Brigadier General Mueller, now took over the command as "Commander of the Channel Islands" His post was on Guernsey, The former commander now had the command of Jersey.

When the division arrived, the battalions and other units of the 216th Infantry Division were transferred back to the continent.

When the Infantry Regiment 584 had arrived on Guernsey the MG Bn 16 was moved to Jersey. One Battalion of the Infantry Regiment 584 was transferred to Alderney, Sark was occupied by one company.

During June more support artillery with long range guns arrived. The headquarters of GHQ Coast Artillery Regiment 1265 was committed to Guernsey as Artillery commander, the Headquarters of Artillery Regiment 319 to Jersey as artillery commander.

To Guernsey as well as to Jersey 21cm Howitzer battalion was committed, to Guernsey also three 15cm batteries K18 and to Guernsey as well as JErsey one 22cm Battery (French).

The Naval Batteries, committed to the islands totalled now 36. The Flak was also considerably reinforced on the island. There were committed:
Flak Regiment 39 Gsy
Flak Regiment 40 Jsy

The number of light batteries was essentially increased in the course of time from the reserves of material.

Before the beginning of the invasion the Flak Regiment Hqs and two Bn Hqs had been transferred back to the continent. The number of batteries committed remained unchanged.

Command of the entire Flak was taken over by the Flak Brigade Hqs activated in fall 1941. Latter on it was renamed "Luftwaffe Commander of the Channel Islands"

7. How the Construction of the Fortresses was begun

In June 1941, after General Schundt of the Fuehrers Headquarters had paid a visit to the islands, the intention of the OKW became known to turn the Channel Islands into a very strong Naval Fortress as quickly as possible, employing all forces and means available.

Major General Schmetzer had been ordered to carry out the necessary reconnaissance and to begin construction of Fortifications. The first thing done was to find out together with the navy agencies how many coast batteries were required.

For Guernsey Fortress Engineer HQs 19 and for JErsey Fortress Engineer Hqs 14, which was to take over Alderney too, were subordinates to Major General Schmetzer. The Fortress Engineer Bns 156 and 14 were assigned to them. They were to carry out the Necessary and supplementary reconnaissance in detail and to help the troops construct field type concrete fortification for defence for the time being.

The reconnaissance that had been carried out by the tactical and technical command agencies was completed in the end of July as "Tactical Technical Draft" and submitted to the OKW.

After another examination by the tactical agencies the draft was approved by the OKW. It was the base for the preparations of the fortress type construction, which had already begun in the meantime.

Now two projects were running parallel, which were to supplement and corresponded with each other as much as possible:

1. The improved field type concrete constructions
2. The preparations for the fortress type constructions and these constructions them selfs.

Efforts were made to carry out the improved field type construction in such a manner that it supplemented, and became part of, the later fortress type construction. This could be done almost anywhere.

To the fortress engineer Hqs there were assigned one construction battalion each, which later on were changed into construction engineer battalions of fortress engineer battalions, and also rock boring and blasting companies as well as special formations, such as sections for building fortress guns and truck columns for heavy loads.

While improved field type construction started quickly and progressed well, there arose great difficulties and delays in the preparation for the fortress type constructions for many reasons.

The reasons were, above all, the inadequate efficiency of the railroads lines to Granville and, later on , to St Malo of the reloading facilities of continental ports. The difficulties of sea transport, ships and weather conditions, especially in the beginning large troop transports had to be carried out to the islands, and there were the increased supply transports food, ammunition and supply goods of all kinds.

The unloading facilities in the island ports, which were completely insufficient for the heaven loads, were a great delaying factor. This was particularly disadvantageous for the work on Alderney.

In October 1941 the Todt Organisation was ordered to work on the islands. In November Dr Fritz Todt appeared on the islands to give instructions. In a "Construction Order" the fields of competence were established.

8. The Organisation of the Construction

According to the "Construction Order" the situation was roughly this: The division with its fortress commanders took over the tactical reconnaissance and decisions, The Troops, the field type constructions, the division engineers, the distribution of land mines and flamethrowers and the building of larger obstacles.

The mounting of fortress weapons, fortress equipment and installation, supply of fortress equipment, of obstacle material, trench timber, corrugated iron etc, the transport of very heavy loads, the reports on progress of construction and completion of construction maps.

The Todt Organisation Took over the large and almost all medium reinforced concrete construction, Part of the underground constructions, all installations for water supply, power, the construction of roads and minor tramways, the obtaining of gravel, the supply of building materials, building equipment and machines.

The organisation of sea transport together with the navy, the reloading and unloading. Control and supply of all construction firms and all non-military labourers.

In St Malo the construction headquarters of the Todt Organisation was stationed, on each of the three islands one management of the organisation.

The Todt Organisation was working completely on its own responsibility and was not subordinate to any Wehrmacht agencies, but had been ordered "to cooperate very close". Construction orders of military agencies were mandatory for them. It was responsible itself for the execution and efficiency reached.

In December 1941 Fortress Engineer Commander XIV, Colonel Von Marnitz with his headquarters took over the further construction on the island, whereas Major General Graf Von Schmettow commanded the construction of the "Atlantic Wall" under the Supreme Commander West (OB West)

All fortress engineer headquarters and fortress engineer units were subordinated to the new headquarters.

In the meantime the long expected order of the OKO with additions of the OKH about the construction of the "Atlantic Wall" was received.

According to this the construction on the British Islands had been ordered and already begun were not to be reduced or even slowed down.

It is obvious that compared with the Atlantic Wall the constructions on the Channel Islands had been begun two to three quarters of a year earlier and were, therefore, much stronger.

9. The Employment of Tactical Principles

The assignments ordered were decisive: for both infantry and artillery very strong, uninterrupted all-round defence against any, even the strongest, landing attempt.

Divided into regimental sectors under their commanders. Generally the commitment was this: Two-thirds in the frontline, in strongpoints at the coast, which principally equipped for all round defence and could support each other by fire, as well as in strongpoints distributed in depth, which were built after the same principles.

The shore was always the MLR

Per battalion sector, one company was kept in reserve It was available for occupying strongpoints in the rear or for counterattacks.

Apart from Infantry regiment 584 every regiment set aside one battalion and regimental unit as mobile reserve for counterattacks.

On the island of Jersey and Guernsey the mobile battalions, the division engineers, the fortress engineer companies, the tank companies and if necessary one battery were available to the fortress commanders as reserve.

The task in detail were these: for the foremost parts to smash any landing.

Attempt by concentrated fire of all defence weapons combined, before the enemy set foot on the shore.

For the units operating in depth to support the foremost strongpoints by fire, to stop enemy units that might have broken through and to destroy them by counterattack.

For the reserves to carry out counter thrusts and counterattacks.

The distance of the strongpoints from one another in lateral and horizontal direction depended not only on the terrain but also on the most effective range of the anti-landing guns, especially of the armour piercing types.

The points of main effort were always at the flat shore and bays which were especially fit for landings, here the defence net was denser and deeper.

The rear lines, where mostly the artillery observation was stationed, were formed by edges of the plateau, which separated the interior part of the islands from the flat shores that invited a landing.

In some places the tongues of land and protruding rocks lying between the bays offered fine possibilities for strongpoints that had only flanking effect.

The steep coasts
On Guernsey the southern, on Jersey the Northern, on Alderney the southeastern coast could be occupied less strongly. Frequently it was sufficient to construct the strong or small points at the entries into the interior parts of the islands, or at the small fishing harbours, as on Jersey. They were given the task of blocking until, if necessary, rearwards units had been moved up.

The ports of St Peter and Sampson on Guernsey, of St Helier, Aubin and Gordy on Jersey, the port on Alderney as well as the neighbouring sectors were secured particularly strongly to protect them from surprise attacks. In the main entry channel mine obstacles with electronic ignition were laid by the Navy.

Beside their importance, the strength of the strongpoints depended above all on the number of medium guns employed there, it was anything between a squad and a platoon as the limit.

All rearward formations, such as headquarters, command posts, message centres, supply units, repair shops, trains were organised as "alert units" and trained accordingly.

According to the various situations they were to occupy rearward or switch position, or to serve as security detachments of the troop billets or command posts that had been equipped for all round defence, or to operate against local airborne units.

In the same manner as every infantry strongpoint, every battery position, even of the flak, was turned into a hedgehog position.

All installations were protected by strong and deep obstacles fitting the terrain, the obstacles of the deep zone of resistance had gaps for our troops to move through for counterattacks.

Points that were particularly endangered, or places and stretches for which there was less protection, eg at the steep coasts, were heavily mined, to save troops even on Sark and Alderney. Dead space that offered approach to strongpoints was mined too. The mines were not only anti-personnel, but also anti-tank mines.

When committing and distributing the artillery, the missions of blocking the entry into the gulf of Malo, the securing of the "main route" and of the sea between the islands and the western part of the Cotentin Peninsula, as well as the task of repelling any landing attempt on the islands themselves were taken in to consideration.

All navy and GHQ coast batteries as well as the light batteries were able to cover the ports, almost all parts of the front of the coast and especially the endangered bays and the area in front of them with concentrated barrage fire. The data for this fore has been computed and obtained by adjustment fire, it could be released by various methods.

The greater part of GHQ coast batteries could also intervene in a fight on the islands themselves. Apart from the harbour blocking battery with its special mission, all light batteries were motorised or horse driven for mobile operations.

Except for the harbour blocking batteries and two light batteries on Guernsey, which were standing under a concrete shelter, all medium and light batteries could traverse their guns for 360 degrees.

With regard to "free firing" against target on the sea the naval batteries were rather open to view from the sea, GHQ coastal batteries, especially on Jersey, had been hidden from the sea and were standing in masked positions.

On Guernsey the point of main effort was in the front of the northwestern coast, on Jersey in front of the western and southern coast, on ALderney in from of the northern coast. Sark was protected by the artillery on Guernsey. There was an 8.8cm of the navy.

For the firing at targets on the sea Mirus Batteries (30.5cm) with a range of 50km and one 15cm battery on Guernsey and another on Alderney- the modern naval batteries with a high-rate of fire, were particularly effective.

The Cali era and ranges of the 22cm and 17cm Batteries were effective, but these batteries fired at a much slower rate of salvos. The howitzers were especially fit for fighting landing attempts in front of the coastal areas. The 15cm guns K18 of the army had about the same value as the 15cm naval guns.

All Naval batteries and the medium batteries of the GHQ coastal artillery had armour piercing rounds.

The naval coast batteries were connected with naval searchlights having a great range. The GHQ batteries had to cooperate with the numerous 60cm searchlights, established in the coastal strongpoints, for repelling landing attempts. At night also the guns (10cm) for repelling attempts, which standing under concrete shelter had been assigned to the coastal strongpoints, fired together with these searchlights.

For firing at sea targets all naval and GHQ coast batteries were subordinate to the naval commander on Guernsey, who issued the necessary orders, the radio distance and direction finding stations of the navy were at his disposal

There was one radio distance finding station on Guernsey and one on Jersey

For the artillery fight at the coast and on land the batteries were subordinated to the artillery commanders of the islands, so far as they were not being employed yet for firing at sea targets.

All batteries protected themselves from attack of low flying planes by their own light AA guns. Some GHQ coast batteries were protected by four barrelled AA guns.

As for ammunition, 8-10 issued were available. The ammunition stored near the batteries was kept in fortress type shelters. Most of the ammunition was lying in rocky underground constructions.

For all batteries that had not been built in the fortress type fashion, alternative positions had been reconnoitred, prepared and survey. And also alternate observation post and command posts, including signal communication lines.

The Batteries, observation posts and command posts were connected with the cable net of the fortress.

Flak Artillery
Most of the Flak batteries were stationed in the interior parts of the island so that there would not be any empty spaces.

Efforts were made to distribute the batteries so that their fire could also be directed to the bays that were especially endangered by the landings, whereby the barrage fire could be intensified or the batteries could take part in observed fire.

On request several mobile flak combat patrols, consisting of one 8.8cm and 1 to 2 2cm guns were at the disposal of the regiment sectors as well as the mobile reserve of the fortress commander. Various positions has been setup and prepared for them. Light batteries, which had been put up from reserve of material were especially employed for the protection of such terrain as was endangered by airborne landing, above all the airdromes.

10. The First Period of Construction

The field type, then the improvised field type concrete construction.

It was begun when the first troops arrived, and was always continued. The aim was to bring the island into conditions fit for defence as soon as possible. The work was done by the troops, which were supported by the fortress engineers and the construction units, after their arrival, especially in building the improvised field type concrete constructions.

In the beginning it was important to build the infantry strongpoints at the coast, in which fire positions were constructed for the light and medium defence guns. In the beginning they were generally uncovered positions.

For the personnel, for the weapons and the ammunition in the beginning splinter proof and bulletproof shelters were built, which in the course of time were giving better protection by being improved by concrete.

After armour peephole plates had been delivered, a great number of gun positions, especially for heavy machine guns, could be erected.

Along the coast of all islands, especially on Alderney, the former fortifications offered an excellent possibility quickly to give sufficient protection, which could quickly and easily be improved by reinforced concrete. Moreover, the former fortifications were always situated at the tactically important and most suitable spots.

Part of them were very strong, former watch and fortress towers were found which at the front, towards the sea, has a thickness of 7 meters, built with big and heavy granite blocks .

By constructing ceilings with reinforced cement or improving them with it, by constructing flanking embrasures etc, the fortress type strength of grade B and partly even A, could be achieved from former fortifications.

Moreover, the improvement of former fortifications was hardly noticeable, safe shelter being offered by simple means.

The installations were protected by obstacles.

So, in the course of time, there arose in the front line as well as in depth the skeleton for the installations of the heavy fortress type construction. The idea of building positions, large trench systems, was given up. The defence was based on a chain of strongpoints, which were principally prepared for all round defence and could support each other by flanking fire.

Numerous Anti Tank weapons were committed to the front line, a flanking effect being always aimed at. The guns were possibly masked against views from the sea. Particularly suitable therefore were the tongues that separated the bays suitable for landing, and also protruding rocks etc.

The available defence guns were not only AT guns, but especially numerous captured guns, 10cm (French) on traversable turntables. They were equipped with armour piercing shells.

With regard to the various tactical missions the strength of the strongpoints was between 1 squad and 1 platoon limit.

During the first period of occupation no artillery was on the island apart from flak.

The first batteries, assigned toward the end of 1940, were one french 15cm battery and a medium naval coastal batterie per island. For the naval batteries fortress type instillation had been planned from the outset, it was to be started by construction units available to the Navy.

The 15cm batteries of the Army were established in improvised field type fashion, later on by concrete foundations.

There were the first batteries on the islands ready to fire.

All naval coast batteries were to be installed in fortress type fashion, so they will be dealt with in the section about the second phase of heavy construction.

The light batteries of the 319th Division were principally installed on concrete in improved field type fashion. Two light batteries on Guernsey and the harbour blocking batteries on Jersey and Alderney, which, having a special mission, had to do without all round fire, were placed under a concrete shelter and fired through embrasures. All other guns were standing in open concrete positions.

The ammunition and gun crews concrete covers were built, particular care was applied to the observation posts and command posts of the batteries and artillery headquarters.

Per gun one to two crew and two ammunition shelters were constructed into the ground or rock.

For the GHQ coast batteries improved field type concrete construction had been generally planned so as to get them quickly ready for fire.

Some especially important batteries or such as were standing in exposed positions could be installed in fortress type construction.

Sone of them were given shelters and crews and ammunition that had at least partly been built in fortress type fashion.

Where ever the batteries were standing on rock and the shelters had been built into rock, the improved field type construction with a concrete calling of 1.5 meter thickness of concrete seemed sufficient.

For observation posts and command posts of the coastal batteries former carnitas towers and mills or fortifications, which were considerably improved by reinforced concrete , could frequently be used.

There was the advantage of their fitting the landscape and of frequently not being recognisable as military installations.

When the GHQ coastal batteries were installed the fact that they must not be open toward the sea but should possibly be hidden from it, was taken into account.


All light and medium batteries were installed in improved field- type fashion, partly with concrete, by the Flak units themselves.

Exceptions: The fire control batteries and others that were standing exposed as well as some command posts were installed in fortress type fashion. So far as I remember, this referred to one battery on Jersey and two on Guernsey.

During the first period of constitution the underground rock installations were already started.

The geological structure of the islands, which are known to consist of solid rocks reaching 140 meters undersea level, made it possible to build cave-like underground systems on a large scale almost everywhere on the islands.

Thus, especially in the interior parts of the islands, very strong , reinforced underground installations, which were distributed according to tactical view points, could be built for housing or assembling reserves. They offered very strong protection from ship based artillery fire and aerial bombs.

They were frequently lying under 20-30 meters of natural rocks, situated in deep valleys they could not be recognised from the air.

The entrances were prepared for defence.

The spoil obtained by mining made it possible to transport less construction material by sea, needed on very large quantities for fortress construction, road building (approach roads).

Most of the caves were built with a large profile, they had mostly 2-3 entrances permitting close columns eg for ammunition supply, to enter and leave.

Their inside was improved with concrete, light, water pipes and ventilators were laid as well as drainage systems, where ever necessary so that dry housing and storing of ammunition and supplies was possible.

The value of underground installations was first recognised on Jersey, there they were began first and perfected to the greatest extent.

The planned system could not fully be accomplished, especially on Guernsey and Alderney, for various reason, such as the lack of special apparatus and equipment as well as fuel, and also because the rock construction and mining companies had to leave in 1943. Netherltheless it was possible to complete on Guernsey and Jersey the modern hospitals and to make use of them, and also to store most of the ammunition and other supplies as well as to make it possible for the reserves to assemble there.

At some places casemates for guns that were to deliver flanking fire only and could cover bays endangered by landing could be built into rock.

11. The Second Period of Construction

The heavy or Fortress Type construction
Preparations were begun during the 1st period, the construction was begun even then. It was carried out by Organisation Todt and the construction firms cooperated with it.

Its purpose was:
For all the occupying forces, their weapons, ammunition and supplies so strong covers were to be built that their full fighting power was maintained for a long time even after the heaviest and longest aerial and naval bombardments and fire of the guns, accompanying strong landing. For that purpose the necessary strong obstacles were to be built, too, especially against the landing of tanks.

Minimum thickness of the constructions was fixed at 2 meters.

Priority rates of the fortress-type constructions:

The first place held by Guernsey, then followed by Alderney and the last was Jersey.

On Alderney the conditions for transport and unloading were most difficult of all. Matters were most favourable on Jersey.

As for the details of construction there were three very urgent tasks
A - The Coastal Strongpoints
B - The Coastal Battereies
C - The Underground Rock Installations

The Coastal strong points for defence against landing. Most of the strongpoints of the former reinforced field type construction could still be used, in this case they were supplemented and reinforced by fortress type constructions. At some point new strongpoints were erected in strictly fortress type fashion.

There were built as most urgent

1- Positions for guns with armour piercing ammunition. The 10cm guns (French) on wheeled gun carriages with traversable circular track mount as exchanged for a gun turntable carriage with gun shield and installed in a loop-hole position with 90 degree traversabillity.

With regard to the open loophole the gun was placed so as to deliver Flanking fire.

2- Positions for Anti Tank Guns of Czech production. They were coupled with machine guns and forced through bullet loopholes. Traversing motion :45 degrees.

The builds were so advanced beyond the shore line, mostly in front of the quay walls or Anti Tank walls, that the inner protective leg of the gun could be moved along the side of the wall that faced the sea.

3- Loophole positions for AT guns, of German production, with concrete ceiling or armour plate cover. Delivering flanking fire only, wherever the front was protected from the sea by protruding rocks etc.

4- Armoured multiple loophole turrets for MG's, which was especially fit to secure in all directions the installations for armour piercing guns, owing to the all around effect of their 2d heavy machine guns. Being heavily armoured and hardly recognisable in the terrain, they were valuable protection particularly of the more extensive strongpoints.

5- Shelters for personnel and supplies.

6- Shelters for searchlights and their electrical charging units.

7- Armoured turrets for observation.

8- At a few places, position for fortress mortars, also places for putting under cover the high-angle guns of the infantry, which fired from open positions.

9- Shelters for wells, but only a few larger strongpoints.

Most strongpoints consisted of:
1-2 positions for antitank guns.
Either 1-2 guns, or 1 gun and 1 AT gun.

For each of the guns established a searchlight was installed. If there were two guns in a strongpoint, one searchlight was sufficient, and 1-2 personnel shelters.

In larger strongpoints - one Armoured multi - loopholes turret (mostly 6 loopholes), if the strongpoint was situated at an especially important point and the terrain made it possible to deliver long-range fire in all directions.

Where high-angle fire was required, one shelter for the high angle guns of the infantry was built, these guns could also find a place in the personnel shelters, they were employed in prepared open positions.

In the same places, if there were particular reasons such as lack of space, constructions were combined, one gun position with a six loophole turret, or a position for an AT gun with a personnel shelter were combined in one building. But those were execs-toons, principally only standard constructions were built.

The decision on what to build in the various strong points depended on the effect the guns to employed there could have, and thus on the tactical purpose and value of the strongpoint. Their strength depended on it. The terrain, whether rather open or concealed, was also decisive for what could be used of the reinforced field type concrete constructions and what had to be completed by the fortress type construction.

It must be mentioned still that in the position for guns and AT guns and in the multiple looped hole turrets the crews were also housed.

In the points that were endangered by landing the strongpoint were arranged more closely so that about every 500 meters there were standing one or two armour piercing guns.

The strongpoints in depth and the 2nd Line.

Their completion and improvement by fortress type construction belonged to a later period, but they may be dealt with here for reasons of systematisation.

In the deep zone a number of six-loopholes turrets was established in important sectors. Under their protection were standing AT guns that fired from open positions, the place to put them under cover were built in fortress fashion.

In the second line there were built a few personnel shelters, some armoured turrets, also such for observation, and positions for infantry and artillery and for high-angle guns of the infantry.

Most of the rearward strongpoints were improved field type concrete constructions.

Together with the construction of antitank walls on the shore line, coastal strongpoints antitank walls were established as a defence against landing tank, wherever a flat shore enabled landed tanks to drive on.

The walls were also to keep the enemy, when having left the landing crafts, in the concentrated fire of the coastal strongpoints before he crossed the MLR (shoreline). Where the coast was quite well protected by reefs and cliffs in front of it, antitank walls stretching for many kilometres were not necessary, as EG on Guernsey. On Jersey all bays that were endangered by landing could be closed by walls along their entire extent.

The antitank walls were established in reinforced concrete. Their foundations was deep in the shore, they were up to 3 meters high and 1.5 - 2 meters thick.

Their upper part was frequently concavely shaped towards the sea.

Into the walls there were built positions especially for AT guns, and also machine guns, so that they could cover the front of the walls facing the sea. The cupolas dismantled from the captured heavy tanks were frequently built into the wall with their defence weapons.

Apart from their tactical purpose the walls were valuable fortification of the shore itself against the surf which was often very heavy and against the sea breaking in to the islands, so they were construction that would retain their high value even after the war.

The installation of the coast batteries

For the first three medium naval batteries that were assigned one per island, the construction had begun and been finished early.

The guns were placed on open concrete positions, per battery one fire direction tower centre and per gun 1 to 2 personnel shelters and two ammunition shelters.

The construction for the various other naval and GHQ batteries were began as soon as the guns arrived, the naval batteries having priority. Principally the fortress type construction had been planned for all naval batteries, where as it has been planned only for some very important or exposed GHQ coast batteries.

In strictly fortress type fashion the following GHQ batteries were installed:
One 22cm battery in south west corner of the island
Three 15cm batteries (K18)

One 15cm Batterie (French) in the northwest split of the island.

So far as construction crews and material were available, some batteries were given fortress type shelters for personnel and ammunition, this was true of such batteries as could not be built into rocky ground EG two howitzer batteries in Jersey.

The Largest project, which lasted longest of all and delayed many other constructions greatly, was the construction for the 30.5cm Mirus for the navy.

The barrels of the guns had been captured in world war I, they had been made in the Russian Putilow works. In world war II they were on their way from Turkey to Finland, which they did not reach any more sea. They again went into German hands and were made by Krupp into a battery. Their range was 50 kilometres. The construction period on Guernsey lasted one and half years, the concrete consumed amounted to 45,000 cubic meters.

With its four gun positions, the ammunition shelters and installed machine, the fore direction centre and the underground barracks for about 400 men, the battery covered a large area.

For observation purposes, for radio direction finding and ranging stations of the Navy, which were also sued by the GHQ coast artillery, a number of 18-meter radio direction finding towers with observation shelters for the crews were built.

The command posts of the artillery commanders and of the naval commander and the buildings of the signal communication centres, situated near the command post of the fortress commanders, were built in a later construction period.

To some of the command posts of the battalions of the GHQ coast artillery and of the battalion commanders of the naval coast artillery battalion of Alderney personnel shelters in fortress type construction were attached, when they were lying exposed positions.

Various plans could not be carried out because of the departure of the construction crews in 1943.

AntiAircraft Artillery
Only a few installations were built in fortress type fashion. Per island was one command post and on Guernsey two, on Jersey one battery (medium) were installed in fortress type fashion. The Batteries concerned were a fire control battery and one battery open to the sea.

Improvement in a later construction period.

C. Underground rock installations:
The cave-like passage systems were continued as urgent projects, especially on Guernsey. On Alderney there was achieved least of all. The work had to be broken off because of the departure of construction crews, many jobs were left incomplete.

Signal Communication - wire net
Accurate transmission of command and fire control was guaranteed only, when there existed a well-organised, ratified communication net, which was more or less protected against artillery and aerial bombardment.

Deep in the ground and the rock fortress cables were laid, all command posts, all batteries , even AA, and all strongpoints were connected. Apart from the installing of the cables itself the necessary construction, such as cable distributing points, branch points, and also the centres were built in fortress - type fashion. The technical control, the technical installation, as well as the connecting of the circuits were carried out by the fortress cable platoons.

The former net - overhead lines, such as the civilian wore net of the postal system, remained of corse in operation.

The islands were connected with each other by submarine cable and also with the continent. During the invasion the connections with the continent were disconnected. The submarine cables leading from Guernsey to Great Britain had been disconnected immediately after the occupation. The cable were constantly checked by special cable squads. The connection with Alderney was established by a cable layer of Navy.

Command Posts

For the fortress commanders, the artillery commanders including the naval commander and the infantry regiment commanders special erections were built as command posts. They consisted of two floors, one underground.

The navy had a special building. To every command post there belonged a building for the signal centre and the radio station.

On Guernsey the command posts were situated on the western edge of the town of St Peter.

On Jersey in what was called the "Kernwerk" (inner fortress building) in the centre of the island , in as place where the infantry reserves were lying near underground passages.

Fortress commanders and Artillery commanders were situated closely together.

On Guernsey they were connected by an underground passage.


In their areas air raid shelters were constructed for several hundred men on the pieces, during air raids they proved very good.

The entrance to ports were secured by armour piercing guns in heavy fortifications. On Alderney the entire port area was covered by one gun which combined one 6-loophole armoured turret.


Besides antitank walls heavy antitank obstacles were built of concrete, so as to close the numerous gaps.


Very great store was set on the most carful camouflage of all installations. Already during the erection of the buildings attention was paid to their being fitted into the terrain and their forming a natural part of the landscape. For this purpose it was frequently necessary to move great quantities of ground. Apart from the radio directional finding station, high superstructures and great height of any structure was avoided.

The camouflaging was the task of the special firms and detachments that had specialist among them, including gardeners. The work was tested from the sea as well as from airplanes. To clear the field of fire was also considered an important point.

Other Constructions

Numerous installations were built for the purpose of obtaining building materials and other purposes. Quarries, works for obtaining split gravel and for making concrete bricks, brickyards, road building, establishing and operating hauling tracks, establishing and operating machinery and repair workshops. For supply and housing, building of camps for housing the work crews, equipment, stores, ammunition depots. On Jersey establishment of a power station with its wire net etc.

Strength of the Todt Organisation

The greatest strength of the OT had was 15,000 men. The figures were fluctuating on the various islands. The limits were approximately:

Guernsey 7,000
Jersey 6,000
Alderney 2,000

In the course of 1943 most of the construction firms and of the OT labour was assigned from the islands to the Atlantic wall on the continent.

The remaining detachments of the OT have completed part of the projects after the beginning of the invasion, or have carried out smaller projects.

12. The Troops During the Construction Period

Beside the task of carrying out the improved field type construction and the necessary guard duties, most important was not the thorough training of the troops, which had become a permanently located fortress unit, with regards to its particular task.

The program included training with all fortress weapons including firing with ball rounds, which all close combat weapons including Panzerfauste, with fixed and portable flame throwers, with searchlights and their electronic equipment.

Before the troops were trained for close combat and combat patrols, the instructors were trained for the fight in fortress areas on special training grounds.

The training of counter thrusts and counter attacks was emphasised most of all as the most important way of fighting for fortress units. Very accurate knowledge of the terrain, of its advantages first of all in ones own sector was necessary. The companies operating in the first line trained the counter thrust in small units with fire support of the positions in depth, where as the reserve companies of the battalion trained the counter thrust in combination with other arms such as artillery, AA, Combat patrols etc. On a somewhat larger scale.

In all sectors that were endangered by possible landings, major attacks were frequently trained by the regiment reserves, susceptible as the reserves of the fortress commanders, which were reinforced by tanks , mobile artillery and supported by the artillery of the island. Night training was particularly emphasised.

The engineer units and the infantry engineers were given careful special training for the fight in fortress areas.

Training grounds that had been specially built made it possible for all weapons used in reinforced battalions to be trained, even with live ammunition.

Apart from the draining in the terrain especially the officers and NCOs and the recruits were trained in theoretical exercises and courses.

Whenever the infantry was training, the artillery was taking part. The latter was trained in infantry matters for defending its artillery strongpoints.

For training the artillery fore direction exercises, also in cooperation with naval commander, were frequently held.

Map exercises and war games were held by the regiment commanders and the fortress commanders in large scales, the other branches of the Wehrmacht taking part so as to train them for cooperation.

The alert units trained on how to occupy rearward or switch positions, small scale attacks against airborne enemy units, exercises for the defence of their reward all around strongpoints.

By alert exercises of all kinds by day and night the orders issued for the various degrees of alert and their execution were tested.

Artillery and AA check their barrage fire by having it requested from front line units by day and night.

The artillery carried out practice firing at sea targets, such as towed target ships, so far as there was no opportunity of firing at enemy targets.

There was sufficient practice ammunition for all kinds of practice firing with live rounds.

Supplies and Stores

Until the invasion the islands were constantly supplied from the continent with all supply goods, such as food, clothes, equipment, weapons, I'm-amends and tools, ammunition, medical supplies and dressing.

In Addition, there were stores of all necessary things for three moths.

Control, request, administration, distribution of the supplies for the occupation troops were in the hands of the quartermaster of the headquarters of the Commander of the Channel Islands. On each island one shied of the supply staff and supply companies were subordinated to him, At Granville, and later on also St Malo, a supply headquarters had been established by the supply chief of the supply services of the division. In Cooperation with the transport officer of the Navy they controlled the reloading and transportation to the islands.

Navy and Luftwaffe were supplied by the army with food, but had their on supply in all other respects. The OT had its own supply.

Owing to loses and delays in railroad and ship transport, caused by enemy air raids in May, as well as to bad weather conditions it was not possible to maintain the current supply so that the 90 day stores had to be drawn upon as early as May. When the invasion began the islands with stores for months, entered a period of time in which constant supply from the continent could not be explained any more as before.

Instead of raising the rations as had been planned for an alert, they soon had to be reduced as precautionary measure so as to balance the rations. Moreover, the power and water supply on the islands had been endangered by the reduction of coal allocations by 50% and by some coal and diesel fuel transportation which have not reached the islands. Owing to reductions of 60-100%, clothing and equipment were in rather bad condition. In addition to the reduction of food rations, carried through as early as June 1944, very strict saving measures were initiated in all fields. So far as possible and justifiable, all products of the islands were taken under control.

As a consequence of the invasion and its development on the continent the division supply office and the transport columns belonging to the division were needed for the purpose of the corps and the army, so that they were not at the disposal of the division any more.

All attempts and requests to release them so that the division could organise its supply with its own means, had to be rejected because of the development of the situation at the front of the invasion.

An order from OKW providing that the islands be supplied with large stores for 180 days with a priority over Cherbourg, (issued in June) became known to the division only by chance through Navy Channels. It had not been carried out by the Army, nor was it transmitted to the division.

In July 1944 it was still quite possible to get hold of supply goods on the continent, and it was even done, there did not come anything out of it, because of the lack of transport facilities, which were not placed at the disposal of the division.

According to statements of Navy circles, the Navy had refused to carry out the transport in that period (May-June), because it was not in a position to do so.

The fact that the order of supplying the islands for another 90 days had not been carried out, was to have the severest consequences for the occupation troops.

In May a request was filed with the superior of LXXXIV Army corps to inform Great Britain through the protecting power that if the attacks on the supply convoys continued, the obligation of supplying the population on the islands, which had been taken over, could not be observed anymore. The commanding general, who supported the request strongly, passed it on. The British Government, However was not informed, the reasons are unknown.

13. Supplies and Stores

Until the invasion the islands were constantly supplied from the continent with all supply goods, such as food, clothes, equipment, weapons, I'm-amends and tools, ammunition, medical supplies and dressing.

In Addition, there were stores of all necessary things for three moths.

Control, request, administration, distribution of the supplies for the occupation troops were in the hands of the quartermaster of the headquarters of the Commander of the Channel Islands. On each island one shied of the supply staff and supply companies were subordinated to him, At Granville, and later on also St Malo, a supply headquarters had been established by the supply chief of the supply services of the division. In Cooperation with the transport officer of the Navy they controlled the reloading and transportation to the islands.

Navy and Luftwaffe were supplied by the army with food, but had their on supply in all other respects. The OT had its own supply.

Owing to loses and delays in railroad and ship transport, caused by enemy air raids in May, as well as to bad weather conditions it was not possible to maintain the current supply so that the 90 day stores had to be drawn upon as early as May. When the invasion began the islands with stores for months, entered a period of time in which constant supply from the continent could not be explained any more as before.

Instead of raising the rations as had been planned for an alert, they soon had to be reduced as precautionary measure so as to balance the rations. Moreover, the power and water supply on the islands had been endangered by the reduction of coal allocations by 50% and by some coal and diesel fuel transportation which have not reached the islands. Owing to reductions of 60-100%, clothing and equipment were in rather bad condition. In addition to the reduction of food rations, carried through as early as June 1944, very strict saving measures were initiated in all fields. So far as possible and justifiable, all products of the islands were taken under control.

As a consequence of the invasion and its development on the continent the division supply office and the transport columns belonging to the division were needed for the purpose of the corps and the army, so that they were not at the disposal of the division any more.

All attempts and requests to release them so that the division could organise its supply with its own means, had to be rejected because of the development of the situation at the front of the invasion.

An order from OKW providing that the islands be supplied with large stores for 180 days with a priority over Cherbourg, (issued in June) became known to the division only by chance through Navy Channels. It had not been carried out by the Army, nor was it transmitted to the division.

In July 1944 it was still quite possible to get hold of supply goods on the continent, and it was even done, there did not come anything out of it, because of the lack of transport facilities, which were not placed at the disposal of the division.

According to statements of Navy circles, the Navy had refused to carry out the transport in that period (May-June), because it was not in a position to do so.

The fact that the order of supplying the islands for another 90 days had not been carried out, was to have the severest consequences for the occupation troops.

In May a request was filed with the superior of LXXXIV Army corps to inform Great Britain through the protecting power that if the attacks on the supply convoys continued, the obligation of supplying the population on the islands, which had been taken over, could not be observed anymore. The commanding general, who supported the request strongly, passed it on. The British Government, However was not informed, the reasons are unknown.

14. The Military Administration of the Islands

In August 1940 the Military Administration Headquarters 515 under Oberst Schumacher, later on Oberst Knackfuss was established on Jersey, with a branch office on Guernsey. It was subordinate to the district chief "A" at St German and thereby to the military commander of occupied France, from whom it received its orders for military administration.

It closely cooperated with the headquarters of the occupation forces.

After the beginning of the invasion the military administration headquarters became subordinate to the Commander of the Channel Islands as local military administration headquarters. Apart from Military Administration its special task was to care for the supply of the civilian population left on the islands - about 60,000. 20,000 Gsy 40,000 Jsy.

Under the control of the military administration the island government remaining in office were given far reaching independence and responsibility. All orders and regulations issued by the Military Commander of occupied France were changed so as to fit the particular conditions of the islands.

The civilian population was supplied from the continent. For it, too, there had been established stores for three months, because the islands could not supply themselves but had always been dependant on the import of food from the mother country.

15. The Events Before the Invasion

There did not take place any combat actions on the islands because the islands were not attacked. The British carried out some reconnaissance and commando undertakings.

Toward the end of September 1944 or at the beginning of October a force of three torpedo boats or destroyers appeared at the southern coast of Guernsey. From one of the boats a combat patrol went ashore at night in the petit port of Moulin Hut Bay. It attempted to advance into the inner part of the island. It was recognised in time, the Jerburg Peninsula was sealed off and the combat patrol was pushed back towards the sea. During it hasty retreat it left behind weapons and equipment at the landing place. From the second boat no landing attempt was made, whereas the third boat landed by mistake on Herm, which was not occupied.

Shortly afterwards, following the demand of the occupation forces two officers and several British soldiers reported. The officers had been landed by a submarine in the begging of September. They had the mission to reconnoiter.

In 1943 the British carried out another combat patrol action, again at night and at the same port. They got into the mien field which had been laid in the meantime, losing several men killed and wounded, whom they managed to recover, so the operation failed.

When years 1940 and 1941 had passed quietly, the air activity of the enemy increased gradually. More and more raids were flown against ports and convoys and other targets, such as battery positions. Several ships were lost or damaged. To a certain extent. There were loses of personnel. The ports were declared war ports by the British.

Attacks on convoys with supply goods for the civilian population made it necessary to reduce the supply rations of the population at times.

Numerous aircraft were downed by the antiaircraft artillery of the Luftwaffe and of the army, operating in the islands.

In the sea around the islands numerous combat actions took place between British and German naval forces. During the night of October 22nd, for example, the cruiser "Charybdis" and the destroyer "Limbourne" were sunk in the gulf of Malo by outpost patrol boats or mine sweepers.

In the summer of 1943 a flotilla of E-boats (Motor Torpedo Boats) was stationed on Guernsey.

Because of the air raids carried out against them, the convoy could sail only at night. Every night British gun-boats were patrolling between the islands, with which there were numerous collisions with loses on both sides.

16. The Channel Islands During the Invasion

Although certainly expected, the invasion was a surprise, when it started. For its beginning no signs had been recognised on the islands.

On June 6, 1944, a report and conference had been scheduled at Rennes, all division commanders and commanding generals had been ordered to appear. During the night of June 4th the commander of the Channel Islands went to St Malo, from there through Granville to St Lo, the Headquarters of the LXXXIV Army Corps.

In a conference with the commanding General for Artillery Marks, at noon of June 5, the latter said he expected the beginning of the invasion rather soon, not later than the middle of the month. In contrast with the views of Admiral Kranke, the Commanding Admiral of France, who considered a large scale landing in the area choosen not feasible because of the reefs extending in front of it and for other reasons as well, he was firmly convinced that the landing for the invasion would be made in the sector of the corps.

General Marks had advocated this view for a long time, he had tested it in several map exercises and had given reasons for it. When asked whether landings were to be expected also on the western coast of Cotentin, which was thinly occupied, whereby the Channel Islands would be directly affected by the invasion, he gave the answer that this was not probable because then it would become necessary to conquer the strongly fortified islands, and because of other reasons. At any rate, it had to be expected that the islands would be neutralised by the air force, especially Alderney, which had been evacuated.

In the afternoon the Commander of the Channel Islands has the opportunity to inspect a number of coastal strongpoints and battery positions in the Navy and Army area of the mouth of the Vire River and at the eastern side of Cotentin. They could by no means compare with the fortifications on the islands.

Durning the night of the 5th June, at 0200 hours the message arrived at Granville that on various spots of the corps area rather strong airborne units had jumped and that the invasion had probably started. Highest degree of alert had been ordered. By immediate telephone contact with the islands it was found out that they were informed there, the highest degree of alert having been ordered from 0200 hours on.

Not before the evening of 6 June was it possible to return to Guernsey with two mine sweepers. Arrival there on 7 June 0530 hours.

During the period of the invasion no principal change had to be made in the orders issued for defence. The highest degree of alert had to be maintained until it became obvious that the islands would not be attacked and the invasion was bypassing them.

Since the beginning of the invasion the air raids had intensified considerably. Especially the ports were targets of the raids. From Cherbourg and later on from such continental ports as Granville and St Malo, various flotillas, outpost patrol and mine sweeper units, artillery carriers and other war ships arrived at the islands. After they had partly taken part in the fights at St Malo they took reference in the ports of the islands. Occasionally submarines were also stationed there.

Soon all ports,St Peter, St Helier and also smaller ones like Gorey and St Aubin on Jersey were full of vessels of all kinds, in the course of time they had to be put out of service because of the consumption of coal and diesel supplies.

The air raids caused losses of boats. On Guernsey one outpost patrol boat was sunk in the port, one mine sweeper when putting to sea, others were damaged by bombs or set on fire.

Thank to the fortress type covers the losses of personnel, even in the ports were relatively small.

Another target was the big Wuerzburg equipment of the Luftwaffe on for George Guernsey, inspire of several air raids and losses it continued working and procured valuable data.

In the sea around the island the activity of enemy gunboats increased more and more, there were many collisions, but the necessary convoys sailed nevertheless. Here, too, there were losses of personnel and material on either side. Since there is no data avaiable, details cannot be stated here. From now on several cruisers were constantly standing around the islands, they kept out of the range of the islands artillery, after Naval and GHQ coast had succeeded in sinking one British cruiser east of Alderney. Several times convoys on their route to Granville and St Malo could successfully be covered with fire when passing the islands.

In spite of the control mentioned, our convoys were continued until the surrender, going at night, sometimes even by day to Alderney, between Guernsey and Jersey and, so long as they were in our hands, St Malo and the Battery Lecembre, and also Granville.

Since the beginning of the invasion no landing attempts or commando operations were carried out by the allies.

On Alderney, on August 12 1944, the coast batteries with artillery observation were bombarded by the large artillery ship "Rodney" (40.5cm Shells).

The result was surprisingly small. One man killed, a few wounded. The GHQ coast battery (15cm) which was the main target (it had been established on concrete in improved field type fashion) was only slightly damaged.

After the island with their strong occupation troops had been given a passive role, the command of the islands endeavoured to help the comrades fighting on the continent. Many plans for that purpose were considered.

The plan to reinforce the occupation of St Malo by an entire battalion was rejected by the supreme command, although at that time the plan could probably have been realised. So the assistance had to be confined to detaching strong combat patrols consisting of volunteers to St Malo for fighting enemy tanks. In spite of enemy defence debarkation and landing could be successfully accomplished. In the fights for St Malo the combat patrols reached good results and fought bravely.

Assistance could also be given by supplying ammunition and other things. Valuable help could be given to the Battery Lecembre, which contributed to the fact that the battery held on so long. In the sea transports necessary therefore, the Navy rendered very valuable service, suffered various losses of personnel and material. By the return of the transport hundreds of wounded soldiers were evacuated from St. Malo, who could be given medical care in the hospitals on the islands.

17. The Supply During the Invasion

As stated above, it was with a two months supplies that the islands entered the period of invasion.

It was to be expected that sooner of later the current supply of the islands from the continent could not be continued, so it was of the greatest importance to replenish the supplies as long as there existed an opportunity. From the supplies alone this is what would determine how long the troops could stay on the islands.

All endeavours of the division to make superior Headquarters release the transport columns of the division, employed on the continent for other purposes, failed. In July it would still have been possible to get to St Malo and load on to ships such supplies as had been collected on the continent in the area of Briense and had been released, if the transport column had been available. The Navy, too, would have been able to cary out the sea transport, although at night only and with some difficulties.

When the invasion developed it became clearer every day that soon the islands would be cut off completely. After the breakthrough of Averanches it became a certainty. Now the islands depended on themselves only.

First the food rations were reduced to make the supplies last longer, and in all fields very severe measures for economy were taken. In June already all products of the islands were taken under the control, and the every last bit of soil was cultivated for growing potatoes and vegetables, so far as possible, the troops working together with the local population.

Planning had to be farsighted, based on caution estimates of the corn, potato and vegetable crops, the duration periods had to be calculated a new. It had to be taken into consideration that apart from 30,000 men of the occupation troops and 60,000 people of the civilian population had to be supplied as well. As a result of crop results that were better than expected, the duration periods could be length and more and more.

Nevertheless, the situation became more and more difficult, because there was not only a lack of food, but the shortage of other vital things, such as medical supplies, soap and so on for the population, chlorine for water supply became greater and greater. The troops were no in such as position anymore as formally to help by giving medicines.

In mid September an urgent request starting the highly dangerous supply situation of the civilian population and demanding that through the protective power the complete supply of the population be taken over by the Red Cross ships, this measure being the only way out of distress, was submitted to the Supreme Commander West, the OKO and the German Foreign Office.

After having queried many times ad to the state of affairs the command of the islands learned on October the 31st, 1944, from the Supreme Command West Admiral Kranke that so far the British Goverment had refused to supply the civilian population. On November 9th, 1944 the Supreme Command West, informed the islands that England had now promised supplies by means of a neutral ship. At Christmas 1944 the first relief vessel, the. "Vega of the Red Cross" arrived with packages, it returned every month. Beside the Red Cross packages for every inhabitant of the island there arrived, above all, medicine and other vital things and flour.

The plans of various offices to evacuate the population wholly or partly failed because of the impossibility to realise them. The command of the islands was against an evacuation, because the greater part of the population - not only the farmers - were directly or indirectly working for the troops, an evacuation did therefore not mean a palpable prolongation of the period the supplies last.

The situation of the troops became worse and worse. Many things were not available at all. In order not to endanger the production of milk and fat, the horses, so far as there were not needed, had to be slaughtered instead of the valuable cattle. From April 1944 there was no supply of sales articles any more, so that the troops were without cigarettes and cigars, beverages, soap and so forth. Fishing was no help for getting food.

Coal and wood supplies had almost been depleted the diesel supplies, on which the power and water supply was dependent, too. A certain reserve had to be kept back for carrying out necessary convoys.

After the supply of the civilian population was secured from Christmas 1944 on, the duration of the rations for the troops could be prolonged from January 1945 to May 1945. Efforts were made to make supplies last long enough for the next crops.

The arrival at the islands of Navy units from the continent (about 2,500) and the fact 600 wounded soldiers had been taken over from France, which had not been expected, were of course an additional burden on the food budget.

It was obvious that with these reductions of food rations no great demands could be raised on the efficiency of the troops. From the fall 1944 all training and construction stopped. The troops could merely maintain the straining guard duties , take care of weapons and ammunition and do the necessary work. It was a natural consequence of the malnutrition that lasted for months that the fighting power was decreased in as much as the General efficiency was dwindling. The activity shown by the troops in March 1945 in the operation against Granville must therefore be very highly appreciated.

Of all islands Alderney, which had been evacuated was in the worst position, Jersey in the best, because of its very high agricultural productivity and the greatest quantities of cattel.

The growing of vegetables by the troops was a valuable help already in 1944. By supplying the seeds by air it could be intensified in 1945. That was practically the only help the islands had from the outside.

In the view of the great number of occupation troops and the air supremacy of the enemy, the few supply planes available to the Supreme Naval Command West could hardly bring any help, many aircraft were lost.

Beside military mail, medicine, dressing material, occasionally some food or clothing and especially vegetable seed or frequently spare parts for the Navy, no other supplies could be sent that were really relevant.

As a consequence of the malnutrition, apart from the numerous wounded, a great number of soldiers with edemata and other symptoms caused by starvation were lying in the hospitals. The figures were rising constantly, which was a sign that the possible limit was soon reached.

Confiding in its command the troops, so long as they were convinced of the necessary to hold the islands , willingly accepted the severe deprivations and endured this period of suffering in a disciplined manner that was even acknowledged by the British.

Apart from all that it was possible to hold out so long with such little stores is the lasting merit of the quartermaster in the Headquarters of the Commander of the Channel Islands.

18. Change of Command During the period of the Invasion

When the invasion developed the subordination was changed. After the headquarters of the LXXXIV Army Corps had been put out of action during the fighting and General der Artillerie Marks had been killed, the islands were subordinated to the LXXIV Army Corps and later on to the CCV Army Corps. This change sis not have any proactively importance any more, though the corps headquarters endeavoured to help.

Of Incisive importance, however, was the subordination to the supreme Naval Command West, Admiral Kranke, late in the fall of 1944, he conducted the command from Bad Schwalbach, later from Linda on Lake Constance.

At first the subordination was confined to supply, in the course of time it was extended to tactical command.

As stated above, no help could be given in the supply matters and with regard to tactical matter changes, eg of the commitment of forces, were out of the question. The Navy, therefore, confined itself to claiming the command of all Atlantic Strong points, including the Channel Islands. Up to then the command had been in the hands of the commanders of the Army, because they had constructed the fortresses and were commanders of the fighting forces there.

In all strongpoints of the Atlantic the Army were soon relived, admirals taking thier places, older infantry regimental commanders were attached to them as tactical advisors. The 319th Infantry Division had to attach an infantry regiment commander from Guernsey and an infantry regimental commander from Jersey to the Atlantic strongpoints as tactical advisers for the infantry.

On the Channel Islands the change of command was prepared by appoints the Naval Commander, Vice Admiral Huffmeier "Chief of Staff" of the commander of the Channel Islands. By the Supreme Commander West, Field Marshal von Rundstedt, his activity was limited to "watching over the common interest of the three branches of the Wehrmacht".

Toward the end of February 1945 the command was taken over, this time "for reason of health".

Vice Admiral Huffmeier was appointed Commander of the Channel Islands, who appointed the Commander of the Flak Brigade, General Major Dini, his Chief of Staff and the former fortress commander of Jersey, Oberst Heine, then promoted to the rank of General Major, his tactical advisor.

On request fo the supreme command west , the army personnel office detailed General Major Wulf as division commander of the 319th Infantry Division. He arrived on Guernsey by air toward the end of February. He moved at once to Jersey with the division headquarters, which up to then had formed headquarters of the commander of the Channel Islands as well. There he became fortress commander.

As a consequence of the command being taken over by the Navy all Specialists of the army and all offices of the army that had up To then controlled the supply, such as the quarter master of his staff, the chiefs of the supply staffs on the islands, the supply and administration officers (1b) and the local military administration as follower of the military administration headquarters, were replaced by Navy officers that we out of duty because the ships had been put out of action.

beside "fantasising the resistance" the main task the naval commander under Admiral Kranke had set forth, the latter intended to get hold of the last supplies of the civilian population so as to be able to hold he islands to an unlimited period of time. For this purpose all remaining stores of grain, potatoes, including seeds, all milk and butter were confiscated. These measures could not influence any more the situation of the troops, especially because the food rations of the troops, which already insufficient for maintains life, were again reduced to make the supplies last still longer.

Up to then, a great number of soldiers had been lying in the hospitals because of serious starvation symptoms. Now the number of diseased men rose in a dangerous manner, and many men died of malnutrition and exhaustion, especially on Alderney and Guernsey.

Summing up one must judge that until the surrender it had been possible to keep the troops just barley alive, but that after one year of malnutrition they could not expect to show any serious fighting power.

19. Conclusion

In my opinion the supreme command attached an importance to the islands with doubtless exceeded the value they had for whoever had occupied them.

By employing very strong forces and great means they were fortified much stronger and much earlier than the rest of the Atlantic wall.

Extraordinary strong forces were committed and bound there. The reason for this high valuation have not become known to me.

It can only be assumed that the supreme command felt induced to fortify and occupy them so strongly for reasons of prestige. The Channel Islands were the only British soil that had been occupied, so there was the intention, I think, to hold by any means. Perhaps the idea was to secure them sufficiently after the surprise raid of the British Navy against the Lofoten Islands had been so successful in the beginning of 1941. At any rate one must take into account the point of time when the decision was made and the general war situation leading to this decision. Moreover, men and means were not so important at that time as later on. After all constructions and fortification had been finished, the strength of occupation forces was to be diminished, the develop,ent of the situation mad it impossible.

The regard for the British population may have influenced the Allied Command not to attack the island during the invasion.

After the beginning of the invasion the fate of the islands have been decided finally. In the frame of important events during the war they were to have a passive role, a fate that was sad for the occupation forces inspired by an excellent spirit, but share it with many fortresses in the history of the war.

Nevertheless, the strongly fortified and occupied islands have certainly had their influence, if indirectly, on the Allied operations and on the course the invasion took.

After almost five years of occupation the surrender was carried out on the 9th of May 1945, after two demands to surrender, the last on September 26th 1944 had been refused. Now the task of the troops had been fulfilled

Rudolf Graf Von Schmettow

Exploring bunkers:

• Always get permission from the owner
• Take a torch, a spare and one more for luck
• Don't go alone & tell someone where you will be and for how long
• You will get dirty as most are often full of rubbish and may have been used as a public toilet
• Anything you find still belongs to the person that owns the property
Unexploded ordnance is still found in Jersey if you see or find anything that looks like ordnance please call the bomb disposal officer on 01534 612 612.

Jargon Help

Widerstandsnest (WN) = Resistance Nest (RN)
Small pocket of resistance, these would be made up of small groups of up to 10 men with light weapons. They would man Anti-tank weapons, an observation post or a field gun.

Stützpunkt St.P = Strongpoint (STP)
Next level up from an RN and consisted of several RN's. STP areas would have a combination of weapons and different branches of the military used. Examples of this can be found with Strongpoint Greve de Lecq and Strongpoint Corbiere

Einsatzstellung = Operational Position or Action Post
Smaller MG type position generally it was only maned during an alert

Feldwache = Field Watch

Jäger Casemate was a special design and name for bunkers designed to hold a 10.5cm field gun

Sources of Information

German Documents are housed at The National Archived in Washington or Archive in Kew UK
T-78 Roll 318
T-78 Roll 317
T-315 Roll 1639
T-315 Roll 1643
T-311 Roll 27
T-312 Roll 1545

Operation Green Arrows - Occupation of the Channel Islands MOD 584
Allied Technical Intelligence Reports 1944-45
German Preparations for Invasion of the United Kingdom 1941-42
B-833, 319th Infantry Division (1941-45)
German Seacoast Defenses, European Theatre - prepared by the Seacoast Artillery Evaluation Board
Jersey Occupied by Michael Ginns - ISBN 978-1-905095-29-2
Operation Nestegg Plans
Operation Hardtack Plans
Operation Basalt Plans
RAF Photos care of The National Collection of Aerial Photography
Bundesarchiv - Multiple Photos - and Files
A Map of slave labour camps. Kindly Provided by Emilio Pérez
Photo's and information provided by fans
Onsite visits & internet research
After the Battle Multiple Magazines

If we have used any photos or information which you believe to posted without permission, please contact us at

Links of other excellent websites and people you must support.

The National Trust for Jersey are a fantastic group and we can not praise them enough for the work they do. Please go support them as their vision is to permanently protect Jersey's natural beauty, rich wildlife and historic places for everyone to enjoy and experience.

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Jersey Heritage look after multiple sites most with links to the Second World War and all worth a visit. The archive they have is amazing and one of the best sources of information. It can be used online or in person and we ask you to please support all they do.


The Channel Island Occupation Society are guardians of 5 sites which have all been restored or have been made to look like they did in the Second World War. Visits to these sites help fund the work they do and we encourage you to take a look at the opening times and visit them. They also have a wide range of books and reviews, all of which are an excellent resource for education.

Whether you are an established Battlefield Guide, retired from the craft, interested in how it is done or considering a future in guiding, the International Guild of Battlefield Guides is for you. Kimberley and Phil are both associate members and recommend you visit their website to show support.