4th August 1956

A boy scout fell 250ft over a Torteval Cliff

Alan Blanchard, a boy scout from Croxley Green in Hertfordshire, had a lucky escape when he fell 250ft over the edge of a Torteval cliff. He had been trying to rescue his friend, Peter Barnes, at the time.

Barnes had himself tripped over the edge and was pinned to a ledge 10ft below by a granite rock. He had been trying to retrieve Blanchard’s hat, which had blown away in a gust of wind.

Spotting that Barnes was in trouble, Blanchard had leaned over the edge, with a chain of his fellow scouts behind hanging on. They were the only things that were keeping him from falling. What they hadn’t considered was what they would do if the ledge crumbled – as it did – and sent Blanchard down the cliff when he slipped out of their hands.

Fortunately, he was caught by a barbed wire fence 250ft below. It had been strung across the bottom of the cliff to keep people off the beach, which had still not been fully cleared following the Occupation. This had come to an end 11 years earlier, but the beach was still lined with metal spikes that would have speared Blanchard if it had not been for the fence.

Rescuing the rescuer

Things were now a lot more serious but, fortunately, help was at hand. PC Trotter of Guernsey Police was lowered down the cliff and was able to start treating Blanchard’s injuries in situ.

St John’s Ambulance area commissioner RH Blanchford arrived and was similarly lowered over the edge with a 20 kilo radio strapped to his back. When he reached Blanchard, he assessed the situation and used the radio to contact the ambulance car at the top of the cliff, which sent for the Flying Christine ambulance boat.

The Flying Christine set out from Town, rounding the island until she was close enough to take the injured scout onboard. He was taken straight to the Princess Elizabeth Hospital in St Peter Port.

According to the History of the Guernsey Police (PDF), Trotter was awarded the British Empire Medal on 1 January the following year for the bravery he showed during the rescue.


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Other events that occured in August

The Saumarez Memorial foundation stone was laid 1st
Guernsey won double-silver at the Commonwealth Games 2nd
Earl Grey was appointed Governor of Guernsey 3rd
A boy scout fell 250ft over a Torteval Cliff 4th
Jethou tenant was rescued from an up-turned boat 5th
A tomato ship and a tanker collided 6th
Human remains were found on Lihou 7th
The Beatles played at Candie Gardens 8th
The RAF bombed Guernsey Airport 9th
Guernesiais linguist Marie de Garis died 10th
Alderney experienced a total eclipse of the sun 11th
A minister was found dead at Icart Point 12th
Guernsey steam tramway is granted its concession 13th
Police found a bomb in Bluebell Wood 14th
Hanois Lighthouse’s foundation stone was laid 15th
Charlie Chaplin played in St Peter Port 16th
St Peter Port inundated with fish 17th
A royal visit… of sorts
The Rolling Stones played St Peter Port 18th
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was published 19th
Archaeologist Crystal Bennet was born 20th
Mapmaking geologist John MacCulloch died 21st
St Sampson pensioner was buried in a landslide 22nd
Trident VI ran aground on its return from Herm 23rd
Queen Victoria visited Guernsey 24th
The post-Occupation military government was disbanded 25th
Wesleyans celebrated 100 years on Guernsey 26th
Oliver Reed was jailed in Guernsey 27th
Guernsey’s Reform Law was enacted 28th
Winston Churchill visited Guernsey with his wife 29th
Philip de Saumarez was discharged as a Jurat 30th
Jersey swimmers set a round-Guernsey record 31st