Jersey’s history is written across the island, from a Neolithic passage grave (of which, more another day) to magnificent Medieval and Tudor castles. A more recent episode in Jersey’s history is also etched on the landscape; during World War 2, the Channel Islands were occupied by the German army.
The islands were occupied on 1st July 1940 and were liberated more than five years later, on 9th July 1945. During the occupation, extensive defences were built all over Jersey, even on top of the Tudor Elizabeth Castle.
Numerous pillboxes, batteries and other defences were constructed, using slave labour from the defeated peoples of Europe. At La Hougue Bie, a moving display tells their story. The defences included three enormous observation towers.
Although, in the immediate aftermath of the conflict, the impulse of the islanders was to bury the signs of occupation, more recently this part of the island’s history is being explored and preserved. Some sites are open, manned by volunteers, on certain days and the Jersey War Tunnels museum is always open and offers an informative, moving yet balanced account of the war years.
Most of the pillboxes and batteries remain derelict, however, stark reminders of this difficult and tragic time.
Needless to say, they also provide an opportunity to try some moody, grainy photography, with the assistance of willing teenage son in black hoody.
Some of the derelict structures have been used, although all signs of habitation seemed pretty old.
More about Jersey tomorrow.
The black and white shot with son in hoody made me think of Galactica more than the color one. All these remnants of the wars are a bit on the creepy side. I remember visiting some similar stuff on the opposite side of the Bay in San Francisco (Marin county). There’s also a building along the Coast here that reminds me somewhat of these, but I’ve never able to determine their true origin.
PS… Just be glad you weren’t in NEW Jersey these past few days!
Very interesting topic. Thanks for sharing!
Nice photo essay; I really enjoyed it. I’ve never been to the Channel Islands and this (probably even more than your earlier series of posts) makes me want to go.
I don’t find old relics of WW2 off putting at all and for me they can “enhance” the landscape. There’s an old pillbox on the coast just north of Dunstanburgh Castle (you have probably seen it; I know you like Northumberland) and it fascinates me. You can take a photo of the pillbox with the castle in the background. To me they are the same thing, just separated by a few hundred years. And in a few hundred years time I think people will look back at WW2 stuff with the same feelings that people now look back at castles from the middle ages.
Recognise some of these places from trying to photograph them on holiday. Great locations and nicely done!
Love the shot in the fog. Very atmospheric. The ones from the inside are very creepy! Good for this creepy time of year 🙂
Stunning B&W’s. Loving the mood of your shots.
Haha, I bought my first hoody on the weekend at the age of 48! Mine has a bit of colour in it, and I doubt I could replicate that look of menacing sloth teens manage so well.
Those fortifications are fascinatingly creepy. The style doesn’t actually seem that dated – it brings home how recent those dark days were in real terms. They look like they could have been built a decade ago – from the outside at least.