5th April 1958
An occupation-era minefield is discovered at L’Ancresse
The occupying forces were always aware of the propaganda value of holding Guernsey. The Channel Islands were the only part of British soil captured by Germany during the second world war. To have lost them back to Britain before the war had drawn to a close would have been a humiliation.
It therefore set about not only building enormous concrete defences, but also laying mines. These were strategically placed around the coast at likely landing sites. One such example lay undiscovered until 13 years after the end of the war, just east of L’Ancresse.
British bomb disposal experts spent Easter 1958 investigating the field of teller mines uncovered at the shorline. Containing around 5.5kg of TNT each, the teller mines were in many cases quite safe to walk on, but would explode if driven over. They made the ideal anti-tank measure, and would have disabled any Allied vehicles landing on the shallow north of the island.
The name teller comes from their shape: it’s the German word for plate. The mines were flat, with a pressure plate on the top requiring at least 90kg of pressure to activate. Each one had a handle on one side to make it easy to carry around and lay.
Elsewhere around L’Ancresse, the most obvious anti-tank measure is the large concrete wall that encircles the back of the bay.
The mine-clearing operation was wound up by 7 April. By then, the Royal Naval bomb disposal unit, which had been sent to Guernsey from Portsmouth, had uncovered and destroyed a total of seven mines.