Misfortuniate Monday Turns Into Tremendious Tuesday

I am sitting on the train that is parked in St. Malo that will take me to Rennes  which is my connection to my TGV to Paris.  When I ended my last post, Monday evening, I had missed my ferry to Jersey but was able to book another ferry to Jersey yesterday morning at 8:00 AM.

I was really close to the ferry port.  It took not more than 10 minutes to walk from the guest house to the terminal.  Once I arrived I checked in and was asked how come I didn’t make the rebooked ferry that left at 7:00 PM Monday night.  My emphatic reply was that I was told there were no other ferries that night so I booked the Tuesday morning ferry.  Of course I didn’t have a reservation for this particular ferry.  However, there was plenty of room on this crossing so I was able to board without any further issues.

Once I arrived in the city of St. Helier, Jersey I was a little shocked.  I landed in a very modern city.  This was not the Jersey I was expecting.  I quickly found an ATM, withdrew some Pound Sterling and found a cab.  I arrived at my hotel, checked in and learned that during the crossing I gained an additional hour because Jersey, which is part of England, is on British time.  So it was only 9:00 AM local time.  It was beautiful and I had just one whole day to explore and explore I did.

The first thing I did was purchase a day pass from the island’s bus company  For 7 pounds 50 I was able to ride the bus as often as I wanted to 24 hours.  I thought it was a great deal considering during the course of the day I managed to ride the bus six different time.  And the system worked very well.

My first tourist stop was the Jersey Tunnels.  When Jersey was occupied by the German forces between 1940 and 1945 the local population endured five years of hardship.  This museum preserves and presents an account of the German Occupation of Jersey.

Ho8, is abbreviated from the German “Hohgangsanlage 8” and is the best known of Jersey’s many tunnel complexed built by forced labor under German command.

Ending the war as an underground hospital, Ho8 is now home to a permanent exhibit called “Captive Island” that allows visitors the opportunity to experience the real impact of the occupation on Jersey and its people.

Ho8 is one of Jersey’s most important historical landmarks.  It stands as a permanent reminder of a bleak period in the Island’s history.  During World War II, Jersey was occupied by the German forces and these tunnels bore witness to the particular cruelty of the Nazi regime.

To safeguard their possession of the channel islands and as part of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall initiative, the Germans launched an enormous construction program designed to build defenses in Jersey.  The tunnels became the Underground Hospital and was just one of many tunnel systems excavated all over the Island.  A lot of labor was required for this initiative and was supplied by the Organization Todt or The OT.

The OT provided men for construction work wherever it was needed in German Occupied Europe.  As demand grew, forced workers, including Prisoners Of War and political prisoners young and old were rounded up behind German lines.  Many of these men were treated as slaves.

More than 5,000 OT laborers from all over Europe and North Africa were brought to Jersey   Ho8 was built by a mixture of workers including Russians, mainly Ukrainians, and Polish, French and Spanish Republicans.  The treatment of all of these men was harsh but none suffered more than the Russians because, according to Nazi theory, Russians were “Untermenschen - subhuman - and were treated no better that abused animals. Many of these men died from disease, malnutrition and exhaustion.  

This particular tunnel was built between September 1941 and October 1943 as a bombproof munitions barracks, allowing the German garrison to stockpile ammunition to ship their numerous batteries around the island.

I learned many things yesterday and prior to that from a book I read about the channel islands occupation by the German forces.  Once the citizens were told that an invasion by German forces was emanate they had less that 24 hours to make a decision as to whether to say on the Island or leave with just the clothes on your back.  It was a very difficult decision and each visitor is given a set of circumstance and are asked “What would you do?”  I don’t think realized the occupation would last five years.  For those who stayed how would the ensuing five years change them..Although I made a choice I don’t think any decision was right or wrong. Either decision carried a lot of risk.

I’ll include some pictures in the pictures section although the tunnel does not lend itself to pictures.

I had to stop to change trains.  I am now sitting on my TGV in Rennes and will be on my way for a two hour non stop ride to Paris.

After visiting the Jersey Tunnels I had a little lunch and then took the bus back to St. Helier to catch a bus to the northwest part of the island and to hike along the Jersey cliffs.  The place I choose or I should say the nice person at the bus station choose for me, was a place called Devils Hole and the trail that is just adjacent to it called the Cliff Trail.  There are many places to hike along the coast of Jersey but the person at the bus station thought this, in her opinion, was the most beautiful.  Well as you will see from the pictures and videos I’m posting she was absolutely correct.  I was not disappointed.  After three hours of walking up and down this coast I did not want to leave but eventually I had to so I left the train and walked along the road for a couple of miles until I came to a village called St. Johns and only had to wait five minutes for a bus that would take me back to St. Helier and my hotel where I was pleasantly tired from an exhilarating day and was happy to eat some overcooked lasagna and read just a little bit before retiring to bed.

Now its on to Paris where I will do laundry since the Laundromat is just a half block from my hotel.  Its just so easy why not?

Stop the presses.  Not five miles from Paris and after I turned off my computer and packed it away the train came to a stop.  After about five minutes the conductor came on and said the emergency brake system failed and the train automatically came to a stop.  The bottom line is we sat there for a little over an hour while they fixed whatever they had to fix in order to finish the journey.  So by the time I made it off the train and to the Metro and a walk in the rain to my hotel in Bastille It was 6:30.

I quickly checked in and grabbed all of my dirty clothes and did wash.  Now I have a complete set of clean clothes for my trip tomorrow.

1.Louis.skypala@verizon.net © Louis M. Skypala 2014