- Noirmont Point, Jersey, St Brelade, Jersey
In an exposed location on the south-western coast of Jersey is Noirmont Point, beneath which is a warren of bunkers which formed one of Island’s largest coastal artillery batteries during the occupation. The headland is also home to a memorial to American naval servicemen killed in an engagement after D-Day.
As the Cotentin Peninsula in Allied hands by August 1944, the German High Command in the Channel Islands fully expected an attack on Jersey. In order to counter this, they prepared to transfer two batteries of field guns from Guernsey to Jersey. On 9 August 1944, a German convoy including five heavily armed trawlers carrying field guns and 170 troops left St. Peter Port Harbour.
Six US Motor Torpedo boats were dispatched to intercept and sink the convoy. Through thick fog and mined waters, they prepared to attack. The first group sighted the German convoy off the beach at St. Ouen’s Bay. Choosing to remain undetected, the second group including PT509 remained off Noirmont Point and launched torpedoes into the German formation. With no torpedo hits heard, the decision was made to attack the convoy at speed and fire upon as many German vessels as possible before using escaping into open waters.
A fierce fire fight, one of the bloodiest in PT boat history, then ensued resulting in the death of 16 American servicemen. The bodies of Horsefield, Bricker and Schafforth floated ashore and given decent burials in the Howard Davis Park cemetery. Of the sixteen US personnel killed in the battle, nine bodies were never recovered.
For her actions, PT 509 received her second Battle Star. Some of her parts recovered from diving missions are on display at the Jersey Maritime Museum and in the Lothringen Command Bunker. The lost men of PT Squadron 34 are remembered at a ceremony here on 9 August every year.
The Channel Islands were left undefended by British forces throughout WWII and lived under German Occupation for five long years. On 9 May 1945, liberating Allied forces negotiated the surrender of the Islands. Landing in both Guernsey and Jersey, they were greeted by crowds of cheering Islanders, joyously celebrating their freedom.