Jersey War Tunnels opened their doors last weekend for an extra special private tour to help keep the stories of one family living through the Occupation alive.
The great-great grandson of a vicar who was sent to prison during the Second World War for spreading news to islanders was given the special tour of the Tunnels with his grandmother to learn more about their family’s history.
10-year-old Aaron, a young Occupation history buff and his grandma Sarah Dornom flew to the island to fulfil Sarah’s father’s dying wish to keep the memories of both her grandfather and uncle alive.
Sarah’s grandfather, Rev. Francis Killer was vicar at St Mark’s Church during the Occupation and went to prison for illegally listening to BBC radio broadcasts and disseminating the news to his parishioners.
He wasn’t the only member of Sarah’s family to get in trouble with the Germans. Her uncle Frank was charged with acts of resistance against the Occupying forces, having taken part in the Weighbridge demonstration against the deportation of British-born islanders on 16th September 1942. Then along with two friends Frank attempted an escape from the island in canoes, Frank’s was damaged, and he was caught and imprisoned whilst the remainder had agreed to carry on and they successfully made it to France.
Sarah’s father, who grew up in Jersey and witnessed the War Tunnels being built would have been 94 on the day of their visit but sadly passed away during the COVID pandemic and never got to fulfil his wish to bring his family to the island for Liberation 75.
Commenting on the visit, Mrs Dornom said: “My last promise to my father was to bring future generations to Jersey and tell the story of the occupation and see the sights including the War Tunnel that he witnessed being built as a young boy. Just before he died one of the last things he asked me to do was to make sure the story carried on.
“Today has been very emotional but lovely to see Aaron so interested and I have done what I promised my dad and I wanted to do it today, on what would have been his 94th birthday.”
Jersey War Tunnels Chief Operating Officer Joe Carnegie commented: “The War Tunnels is closed for the season, but we were delighted to open up for Aaron and his grandmother to help them learn more about their family history. They were both grateful for the opportunity and we hope they continue to share their stories for generations to come.”