Soldiers’ graffiti from the German Occupation of Jersey

Messages from the past.......

At Resistance Nest La Motte A, on the south-east corner of Jersey, Channel Islands, German troops manning the Kwk 39 5cm gun, used an existing beachside summerhouse for shelter and to house their searchlight. Like many soldiers, they left their graffiti including a rather sentimental thought from one who was perhaps missing his home and family. In the lead-work around the windows of the summerhouse, in addition to the quickly scratched date graffiti, and the slightly more elaborate “punched hole” calling card of another German soldier with the initials “F A”, a German soldier was perhaps homesick when he scratched the following into the soft lead:

“Hier an diesem Ort, dachte ich an die Heimat oft”  which means “In this place, I often think of home” (etching in photo slightly enhanced with white paste to make it easier to see ).

The other items of graffiti.

Resistance Nest La Motte A, made up, together with La Motte Resistance Nest B, La Motte Strongpoint. The former had a Kwk 39 5cm cannon, which originally had been a tank mounted gun but which had been superseded by more modern tank guns. Thus consigned for use in coastal defence, it was mounted on a pedestal. The following two period photographs show the gun and also the summerhouse in the background.

Not only does the summerhouse survive, but also does the concrete base mount of the gun together with the remains of the steel pedestal base and securing nuts and bolts. This had until recently been covered in a rockery.

Built into the sea wall is a Tobruk emplacement, the round opening of which has been cemented over but is still clearly visible. The base of anti-aircraft mounted twin MG34 machine guns was found in the personal shelter behind the summerhouse, discovered a couple of years ago whilst connecting electricity to it. Presumably the previous owners, wanting to hide the German occupation of the property, had cleared the site some time after the war, buried the mounting in the shelter, planted some trees and grassed over everything.. The rather rusty machine gun mount base, its seat still covered by a bit of 70 year old leather and stuffing, but unfortunately without guns and gun mounts, is currently in the care of Damien Horn!

As can be seen from the photographs and this plan of the Resistance Nest, there were sides made of wooden panelling, camouflage screens and steps into and out of the emplacement.

On one of the steps which appears to be of German origin and which survives today, the initials H R M are imprinted in the concrete (photo shows initials enhanced with a few drops of water!). What or who they refer to still needs to be researched!

Anyway, getting back to the graffiti – I rather like it as it shows a very human side of the German occupiers, and the fact that it remains, is a reminder of a relatively short but troubled period in Jersey’s very long military history which goes back centuries.

And how do I know all of this? It’s in my front garden!