HO19

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Introduction ​

On a cold rainy morning in 2015, we were given access to a tunnel complex in the harbour area of St Helier Jersey. As we passed the entrance gate, we were soon greeted by a collection of stencils for road signs and a fair amount of astroturf. The tunnel had signs of significant damp, and a constant sound of dripping could be heard echoing through the site. As we approached the first junction, a wall had been put in place, probably to reduce the amount of water leaking into the first 30 meters of the tunnel. At this point, we realised the complex was much more substantial than we had imagined. We were hooked and needed to secure more permanent access to document the tunnel and save it from further neglect. With the help of the Department of Infrastructure and Jersey Property Holdings, we agreed on a tenancy licence to ensure its protection and provide long-term access to maintain and research the site. In May 2016 we received the long-term licence for this project and started work. 

Project Objectives

The project aims to carry out a research programme of non-intrusive investigations, 3d Mapping and minor excavation of sands. The results of this work will form an important historical resource.  There will also be a maintenance and preservation program to secure the future of the site and ensure protection for discovered forced labour inscriptions. 

Research Aims

To characterise the tunnels in regard to its date range. Non-invasive survey to confirm the date of construction, occupation and abandonment of the tunnel complex.

To define the extent of surviving surface archaeological deposits. No survey work or excavation has previously taken place within the Tunnels. 

To define the extent of surviving surface graffiti and inscriptions left by the Germans, Forced and slave labour. No survey work has previously taken place within the Tunnels. 

To map in 3d and 2d a complete digital record of the tunnel. No survey or mapping has previously taken place within the Tunnels. 

To characterise the condition of any sub-surface archaeological deposits. Archaeological deposits relating to the Second World War are a fragile and finite resource. In this phase, we will be seeking the help of Jersey Heritage and other organisations responsible for recovering and preservation of buried artefacts. 

Provide free access to all research by the means of an online interactive database. 

Methodology

 

3d Mapping survey

A full end to end non-invasive 3d scan of the tunnel will be made and stitched together for the purpose of study and interpretation of the site.

Landscape survey

A landscape survey and examination of the aerial photographs of the site is in progress and which will include maps and where possible coordinates to key features.  

Unexploded Ordnance Survey

After an early find of potential unexploded ordinance, a full survey and investigation were undertaken by the EOD Officer for the States of Jersey Police Force.  An all-clear was provided and 5 suspect devices removed and all found to be inert and part of a bobby trap or self destruct system installed by the Germans in case of an allied invasion. 

 

Find index

All surface archaeological finds will be recorded using a database with a unique numbering system for individual contexts.  All archaeological features and deposits will be fully 3d scanned and location marked by fixed point measurements. Removal will only be made if the find is at risk of destruction or further deterioration. 

 

Photographic Record

A full photographic record of the investigations and individual features will be maintained, utilising digital images and 3d scanning technology. 

Trench Investigation  (not to be started until summer 2022)

Any future planned excavation of the backfilled sand floor will be by hand digging. All trenches will be excavated under constant
archaeological supervision of either the Jersey Heritage Team or equal other organisation. It will be ceased at the identification of significant archaeological remains or at natural geology and any archaeological deposits will be investigated. On any discovery of remains, the States of Jersey Police will be informed. 

At the completion of the work, any survey trenches of sand will be reinstated using the excavated sand. 

Previous Archaeological Work
No previous archaeological work has taken place at the tunnels. 

Limited information available at Jersey Planning but this is a listed and site

Conservation of Wildlife

No wildlife has been discovered and the Jersey Bat Group have investigated concluding there was no evidence of Bats. 

Historical Background

1st of September 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Britain then declares war on Germany. 

10th of May 1940, Hitler launched his invasion of Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and France.

26th of May, Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of British forces from Dunkirk

16th of June, Operation Aerial, the evacuation of Allied forces and civilians from ports in western France. St Malo's evacuation was supported by Jersey civilians and their crafts. 

19th of June, The British cabinet met and declared that the islands should be demilitarised and declared "Open Towns". the islands would be demilitarised and could be taken over without a fight. 

24th June, The King sends the following Message to the Governments of the Channel Islands. 

“For strategic reasons, it has been found necessary to withdraw the armed forces from the Channel Islands. I deeply regret this necessity and I wish to assure My people in the islands that, in taking this decision, My Government has not been unmindful of their position. It is in their interest that this step should be taken in present circumstances. The long association of the islands with the Crown and the loyal service the people of the islands have rendered to My Ancestors and Myself are Guarantees that the link between us will remain unbroken and I know that My people in the islands will look forward with the same confidence as I do to the day when the resolute fortitude with which we face our present difficulties will reap the reward of victory.”

28th of June, The German Luftwaffe mounted a reconnaissance & attack to draw any fire from the island's defences.  Six Heinkel 111 bombers approached the island from the east strafing and dropping bombs at La Rocque killing three people, they proceeded to St Helier where they attacked the harbour area where a further six people were killed. The tenth victim was a crewman on the Guernsey lifeboat which was rounding Noirmont when it was attacked. 

1 of July,  General Richthofen, The Commander of the German Air Forces in Normandy, dropped an ultimatum from the air demanding the immediate surrender of the island. White flags and crosses were placed in prominent positions, as stipulated by the Germans, and later that day Jersey was occupied by air-borne troops under the command of Hauptmann Gussek with the Navy transporting troops from St Malo.

 

20 of October 1941, following a Fuhrer conference on 18 October to discuss the German engineer's assessment & requirements for fortifying the Channel Islands. Hitler requests the permanent fortification of the Channel Islands converting them into an impregnable fortress. 

Work on Ho19  was started in July 1943 by the Organisation Todt (OT) firm of “Riechert” and later in 1943 by OT firm “Hellenbart” under the command of the Naval Harbour Construction HQ, The Todt Organisation was a Third Reich civil and military engineering group named after its founder, Fritz Todt, an engineer and senior Nazi figure.