The La Corbière headland is the home of Strongpoint Corbiere, one of the strongest of the infantry strongpoints in Jersey. It was armed with an impressive array of weaponry and boasting six fortifications built to ‘Fortress’ standard of 2 metre thick reinforced concrete external walls and ceilings.
Located on the northern side of the headland, is one of two Jägerstand Type coastal defence gun casemates located at Strongpoint Corbiere. These mounted a captured French Canon de 105mm mle Schneider converted to fortress use by the Germans and re-designated the 10.5cm K331(f). This bunker, known originally as ‘K2’ (Kanone = Canon) is of particular interest as it escaped the post-war scrap metal drives and retains its original 10.5cm gun as well as other rare fixtures and fittings. This has permitted the bunker to be restored to near original condition, under the watchful eye of the late Herr Horst Herrmann, a former crew member who re-visited the Island and bunker many times!
The gun had a range of 12 km and was originally part of a network of similar weapons along the coast with interlocking fields of fire, whose purpose was to invading troops and prevent the formation of a beachhead in the event of an Allied landing.
In the centre of the headland and Strongpoint Corbiere, is a bunker containing the M19 automatic fortress mortar. This was a complicated piece of weaponry which was housed within a 25cm thick, 40 ton, steel turret with only the muzzle of the weapon and a periscope visible from the outside. The M19 fired 5cm mortar bombs fed on interlinking 6 bomb clips and was capable of firing up to 120 bombs a minute to a maximum range of 600 meters. Any enemy infantry observed within range of the M19 automatic mortar would be engaged by a stream of indirect plunging fire which would either neutralise or drive them back into the open where they could be dealt with by machine-guns.
The M19 mortar was mounted in an Early Type 633 bunker, the only one of its type to be installed in Jersey. What makes this position so unique is the long underground passage that links it to the neighbouring Type 634 Sechsschartentürm bunker. All steel fixtures and fittings, including the turret and mortar were removed in early 1953 for scrap metal. Today the bunker has been restored to a very high standard, and the excellent displays and exhibits provide ample guidance to the workings of this unique installation as well as the German crew who manned it during the last year of the war thanks to information given by the late Herr Engelbert Hoppe, the last wartime Commander.
The Sechsschartentürm (6-loopholed turret) bunker mounted 2 x MG 34 machine-guns, each of which could fire 800 rounds a minute, with a maximum range of 3,500 metres, allowing them to ‘sweep’ the southern end of St. Ouen’s Bay. The MG 34s were each provided with a special mount (Kugellafette) which operated from within a 25cm thick, 50 ton steel turret. This bunker served as the command bunker for Strongpoint Corbiere and was equipped with radio communications to relay observations taken from 6 armoured periscopes housed within the safety of the turret.
The bunker was stripped of all steel fittings for scrap metal in February 1953, with extensive damage being caused by the removal of the turret with explosives. Today the bunker is being progressively restored to its original wartime appearance. The Type 634 Sechsschartentürm is common on the ‘European Atlantic Wall’, but this example is the only one of its kind to be found in the Channel Islands.