Battery Moltke

There are few distinguishing landmarks, but look for the signs at the entrance to the track onto Les Landes Common at the top of the steep hill above L'Etacq.

15.5cm Gun Emplacements & Underground Passage Bunkers

Interior tunnels and ramp up to exterior gun platforms

Battery Moltke, comprising four 15.5cm K418(f) gun emplacements and an associated underground complex was named in honour of Helmuth Johann Ludwig von Moltke, who was Chief of the German General Staff from 1906 to 1914.

One of the gun emplacements has been totally restored, along with extensive underground passages that link up to a Kriegsmarine M151 personnel shelter that accommodated 27 men. This bunker, with a ceiling two metres thick, was built to “Fortress” standards. It is fully equipped with original ventilation equipment, boiler, bunks, and central heating.

Look for the signs along Route du Ouest

Four M512 ammunition bunkers were also built to serve the gun, three of which are now used for display purposes. The complex has been subject to an ongoing restoration project that commenced in 1979.

On permanent display outside is a 15.5cm K418(f) heavy French First World War field gun, that has been restored and put back in its original emplacement, having been recovered from the bottom of the cliffs at Les Landes by the Occupation Society in 1991. All of Jersey's 29 heavy coastal artillery guns were dumped over the cliffs in a massive clean-up operation ordered by the States of Jersey after the Liberation whose demand was: “We want this island cleansed of the taint of German Occupation”. The job was entrusted to Major Sargent, of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC), who dumped the guns over the cliffs in February/March, 1946.

Minefields surrounded the battery on three sides

The 15.5cm K418(f) gun, with a range of 19.5 km, was captured in large quantities by the Germans when they occupied France in June, 1940. By this time, the guns were already elderly and were only intended to be a “stop gap” - to be replaced by modern, up-to-date artillery, namely the quick firing 15cm SKC/28 gun, capable of firing seven rounds per minute, thanks to a semi-automatic, vertically actuated breech. This ship-designed gun would have been mounted in a 360 degree revolving armoured turret, providing protection for the gun crew.

However, this modernisation programme barely got off the ground because the Krupp factories were heavily bombed by Allied air raids on the Ruhr in 1942/43, and the production lines for the 15cm SKC/28 guns were destroyed. At Battery Moltke, the SKC emplacements with their ammunition hoists and connecting bunker complexes were constructed in preparation for the new guns, but they never arrived, and the old French weapons remained in service in their “temporary” emplacements. Today, the SKC emplacement in the care of the Occupation Society is used to display two other gun barrels that were recovered from the foot of the nearby cliffs in 1993.

15.5cm Gun Emplacements & Underground Passage Bunkers

MP 3 Naval Artillery Direction and Range-finding Tower

Profile of the artillery observation tower, with Sark at the horizon

This was the third of three towers that were built towards the end of 1942 into the spring of 1943. Nine were originally planned for the coastline of Jersey, but the increasing shortages of cement and return of forced and slave workers to the Continent at the end of August, 1943 resulted in the abandonment of the project.

CIOS members with the remains of the radar atop the tower

Totally unique to the Channel Islands, these monolithic observation towers were also built to “Fortress” standards. Each of the five observation levels was intended to provide the distance of a target for an individual artillery battery using the long base method of range-finding, in conjunction with the other MP towers. However, this method of range-finding had obvious limitations in inclement weather, at night or if there were numerous targets on the horizon.

MP3 was intended to bypass these difficulties with the installation of a Gema Seetackt Kriegsmarine radar on the roof. This gun-laying radar (version FU.M.O2) had an accurate detection range of around fifteen miles, and was of a similar type utilised by the famous pocket battleship “Graf Spee”, scuttled on the River Plate, Montevideo, Uruguay on 18th December 1939.

CIOS volunteers excavating the nearby Fl 242 bunker

The generator which provided electric power for the radar was housed in a very large bunker behind MP3. This also acted as a personnel bunker for the Kriegsmarine soldiers, who were ordinarily barracked adjacent to a pre-war rifle range. Additionally, there is an emplacement for a Luftwaffe Freja airborne detection radar to the north of MP3.

Other defences for the radars comprised three Oerlikon 2cm Flak 29 guns, two of which were mounted on FL242 Flak bunkers. These guns, manned by the Luftwaffe, were installed on Hitler’s insistence after the famous Bruneval Raid (Operation Biting) on 27th -28th February 1942 near Le Havre, France, when a British paratrooper commando raid managed to capture highly secret parts of a Baby Würzberg paraboloid radar.

MP3 can be visited on special guided tours of the Les Landes defences, which the CIOS conducts on selected dates during the year.

MP 3 Tower