Sealed in 1946 at the request of a local resident objecting to this “scar on the landscape”, the 4.7cm anti-tank casement bunker was spared the ravages of the Post War scrap metal drives. Apart from the removal of the gun and the exposed section of the observation bell, it was something of a time capsule when reopened in 1985!
Made by the firm of Skoda at Pilsen in Czechoslovakia, this specialized anti-tank gun for use in fortifications was originally known as the 4cm. kanon vz.36 and was installed in the Czech defenses of the Sudetenland province bordering pre-war Germany.
Germany however gained control over the Sudetenland as part of the 1938 Munich Agreement, which meant that the Germans gained the Sudetenland defences intact and without a shot being fired! Renamed the 4.7cm PakK 36(t) by the Germans, the weapon pivoted on a ball mounting which is shared with an aiming optic and a MG 37(t) co-axial machine gun for anti-personnel use giving the weapon installation a total weight of 1860kg.
The bunker is one of 4 such Type 631b casemates built into, and thus blocking, the entrances of Victorian slipways running along St. Aubin’s Bay. This example is unique for having an integrated Type 90P9 Kleinstglocke (literally ‘Small Bell’) 5 ton observation turret where an observer could sit down on a small seat and see through the 5 observation slits for nearby objects, while an armoured telescope was provided for longer range observations.
The Channel Island examples of these casemates are also unique for being provided with an empty shell case room below the gun room for the collection of spent cartridges, removed by trunking from both the main gun and the MG, while on the European Atlantic Wall they were ejected into a pit outside.
The gun had a practical range of 2900m, although at maximum elevation a range of 5800m could be achieved. All 4 casemates in the bay fire in the same direction and are placed between 500 & 800 metres apart so their fields of fire overlap and would have directly engaged armour or infantry targets on the beach. The gun was semi-automatic and could be set to automatically fire once a round was loaded. This gave a theoretical fire rate up to 35 rounds per minute, but 20 was more practical.
The Germans added protection to the exterior embrasure of the gun with a counter balanced armoured shield which is raised and lowered from inside the bunker. The gun seen today is not the original weapon (which was removed in 1945 by the British Army) but actually comes from Cherbourg in France, and still bears the marks of battle.
The bunker was originally manned by Infantry, but after France had fallen into Allied hands, numerous sailors from laid-up minesweepers in St. Helier Harbour were retrained as infantry in late 1944, and formed into Matrosen Kompanie König (Sailor Company König) to man several bunkers along St. Aubin’s Bay including this one.
Today the bunker has been restored to pristine condition, but still retains a wealth of original fixtures and fittings including ventilation pumps, telecommunications system, a still functioning stove and even the lighting still runs on the original German wiring! The walls are still clad in their original hardboard lining with gas alarm instructions, the remains of the sailors ‘pin-up girl’ posters and even their names above where they hung clothes.