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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