The Martello tower was constructed on the site of an existing battery in 1804 after the onset of the Napoleonic Wars and during the tenure (1803-1813) of Lieutenant Governor General Sir John Doyle. Doyle named the tower for the Guernsey native and renowned Royal Navy Captain, Sir James Saumarez, who at the time commanded British naval forces in the Channel Islands. To simplify matters, Doyle had a local builder named Gray construct the tower, and two others, see below, under the rubric of "fieldworks", thereby bypassing the Ordnance Corps.
The Fort Saumarez tower, like the other two Guernsey Martello towers, Fort Grey and Fort Hommet, was intended as a keep for the battery in which it was placed. The Guernsey Martellos are smaller than the British towers, with the Fort Saumarez and Fort Hommet towers being smaller than the Fort Grey tower.[Note 1] Each mounted a 24-pounder carronade on the roof to protect the battery. Fort Saumarez and Fort Hommet also have exterior staircases up to the second floor.
Doyle was responsible for substantial fortification efforts elsewhere in Guernsey, including the construction of the two other Martello towers. Because of its location, Fort Saumarez also served as one of six to ten optical telegraph stations that ringed the coast to give warning of approaching vessels.
In 1852, the battery at Fort Saumarez received 32-pounder guns and 8" shell guns in place of some of its 24-pounder guns.
During World War II and the German occupation of the Channel Islands, the Germans recognized the enduring utility of the site and built a four-storey concrete observation tower on top of the existing tower. At some point the battery around the Fort Saumarez tower was demolished. Fort Saumarez is now privately owned and not publicly accessible.
On the headland the Germans constructed facing north a casemate for a 4.7cm Pak 36 (t) anti tank gun and one for a 10.5cm K 331(f). A 60cm searchlight was located next to the trench system that includes a Tobruk (Ringstände) position holding a 3.7cm Pak 36 in a tank turret. A M19 automatic mortar bunker, a 5 cm Pak 38, personnel bunker, a casemate for a 4.7 Pak 36 (t) anti tank gun and one for a 10.5cm K 331(f) face south, with another 60cm searchlight.:35
Notes, citations, and referencesEdit
- Forts Hommet and Saumarez have a diameter of 34 feet and stand 17 feet; Fort Grey has a diameter 36 feet and stands 26 feet high.
- Clements, William H. (1998) Towers of Strength: Martello Towers Worldwide. (London: Pen & Sword). ISBN 978-0-85052-679-0.
- Dillon, Paddy (2011) Channel Island Walks. (Cicerone Guide). ISBN 1-85284-288-1