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.

Anti-tank devices

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.


FREE Guernsey history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Guernsey's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want. We'll also keep you up to date with our latest book releases and early-bird discounts.


Other events that occured in April

Guernsey’s first female murderer goes on trial 1st
A French fisherman is arrested and escorted to St Peter Port 2nd
Guernsey’s new population law comes into force 3rd
Guernsey’s oldest resident dies, aged 110 4th
An occupation-era minefield is discovered at L’Ancresse 5th
Birth of Stone de Croze, the original Guernseyman 6th
The first ever Guernsey stamp is issued 7th
Antiquarian William Collings Lukis was born 8th
Guernsey hosts its first Parkrun at Pembroke 9th
Alderney residents lined the coast to watch Titanic pass 10th
Norfolk pupils spend a week in Guernsey 11th
A plane hit a car while landing at Guernsey Airport 12th
Battery Mirus was test fired for the first time 13th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry fights at Ypres 14th
Guernsey Mormon Sampson Avard dies in Illinois 15th
Lieutenant Governor, Lord Ruthven, died in Bath 16th
Death of the Vicar General of the Channel Islands 17th
TV’s Jeeves is rushed to hospital on Guernsey 18th
Guernsey Airport’s new terminal opened for business 19th
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie film opened 20th
Death of Guernsey-born footballer Len Duquemin
Three Jewish women are deported from Guernsey 21st
Guernsey bigamist got married for the second time 22nd
Aurigny pilot Ray Bowyer spots a UFO near Alderney 23rd
The States of Guernsey registers the gov.gg domain 24th
Guernsey-set film The Sea Devils hits cinemas 25th
Hydrofoil Condor 1 completed its final sea trials 26th
The first Muratti football match takes place 27th
Guernsey passengers stage a ferry sit-in 28th
Guernsey abolishes the death penalty for murder 29th
Finishing touches put to new hospital 30th
Murder suspects steal visitor’s boat from St Peter Port