Following their arrival in June 1940, the German occupying forces expected that the war would soon be over with certain German victory. However, by the beginning of 1941, with the indefinite postponement of the invasion of Britain, Hitler's thoughts turned east towards the invasion of Russia.
Hitler was convinced that Churchill would attempt
to re-take the Channel Islands, firstly to boost British morale and secondly as
a gesture of support for the Soviets. Accordingly, it was ordered that the
defences on the islands be strengthened.
An integral part of the defences was the need for coastal artillery. Traditionally this had always been the responsibility of the German navy, ie. the army fired at targets on land, the navy fired at targets at sea and the airforce fired at targets in the air.
In the context of the Channel Islands, the task of the coastal artillery was threefold; in conjunction with heavy batteries on mainland France to deny the Bay of St. Malo to enemy ships, protect convoys travelling between France and inter-island and finally to prevent seaborne invasion of the islands themselves.
In October 1941 Hitler directed that the islands be turned into an impregnable fortress. It was requested that Guernsey would be provided with one battery of 4 x 38cm and four batteries of 4 x 15cm naval guns.
It soon became apparent that the navy alone would be unable to fulfil these commitments and so the army was called upon to help bring the coastal artillery up to strength. However, the replacement navy weapons never arrived and the army batteries remained operational up until the Liberation in 1945.
Construction of the Battery commenced towards the end of 1941 and is believed to have been undertaken by the German firm of Rabel-Werke of Bremen. This company was working under the control of Organization Todt, a paramilitary organisation formed in 1938 by Dr, Fritz Todt, a civil engineer who, before the war had been responsible for the construction of Germany's new autobahns.
Site offices, workshops and a mess were constructed in fields off Rue de la Trigale. Labour for the project comprised of many continental civilian tradesmen and labourers, both volunteers and enforced. It is believed that local men were also employed. All received good wages.
After surveying and setting out, work commenced with the excavation of deep pits for the gun emplacements, reserve ammunition bunkers and personnel shelters. Excavated spoil was either retained for later landscaping or disposed of by tipping it over the cliff edge. Although attempts were later made to camouflage these spoil heaps, the whole headland rapidly took on the appearance of a huge construction site and can be identified in great detail on royal airforce reconnaissance photographs taken during the course of construction.
The large quantities of material required for the construction of such installations including thousands of tons of steel, sand, stone, cement and timber all had to be transported to the site by road.
German records show that one reserve ammunition bunker would require 450 cubic metres of concrete and when finished 12,000 cubic metres of concrete, equivalent to 30,000 tons had been used in the battery's construction.
By May 1942 the main components were complete, the only exception being the Leitstande (command post). This had originally intended to be a naval installation to serve the replacement 15cm naval battery.
Although a massive hole had been excavated at the south-west tip of the headland in preparation for its construction during May-June 1942, it was not until March 1943 after plans for the proposed naval battery had been abandoned that work began on its construction, the project having been taken over by the army. Records show that the structure was externally complete by the end of September 1943 and was fully commissioned by the end of December.