Chemical weapon V-1s in Alderney ‘fantasy’

CLAIMS that occupied Alderney was being prepared to be a base for attacks on the UK using V-1 ‘doodlebug’ missiles, armed with warheads containing deadly chemicals, have been described as ‘utter nonsense’ by an expert on the island’s occupation.

CONCERNS over the continuing availability of fuel at Alderney Airport were expressed at the January people’s meeting. Guernsey Airport, which operates Alderney Airport, last month invited expressions of interest from suppliers of Avgas and Jet A1 fuel that might be prepared to take over the supply of fuel at Alderney Airport from April 2016. Alderney Electricity has operated the fuel supply at the airport since 2006, when it took over from a private enterprise. But the company has frequently expressed a wish to jettison the service due to lack of profit making.

Alderney Society president Dr Trevor Davenport is the author of Festung Alderney, a book which focuses on the island’s German defences.

Commenting on an article in Saturday’s Daily Mail – the first of two about Alderney during the Occupation – Dr Davenport said: ‘If this first article is anything to go by, containing so much that has been speculated on before with no evidence apart from hearsay (or fantasy), then I cannot begin to imagine what other fiction will be included in their later “revelations”.’

The report was written by Col. Richard Kemp and Alderney resident John Weigold, a former Army officer.

But after investigating tunnels used by the Nazis during the Occupation, the two men became convinced that not only was the island being readied to build V-1s, but that they would have carried more than just an explosive payload.

The authors claim to have seen and heard enough to convince them that the Nazis intended to have the weapons armed with warheads containing the deadly chemicals tabun and sarin.

They compared the tunnels beneath Le Val Reuters in Alderney with V-1 sites they had visited in France: ‘We visited these and discovered that the measurements of their specially constructed storage facilities corresponded exactly to the shape and dimensions of the Val Reuters tunnel.

‘It couldn’t just be coincidence,’ wrote the men.

Dr Davenport said these ‘imagined’ tunnels were far from complete: ‘Taking into account the geology, the specific locations and their design – and being quite standard examples of their type – [they] are very similar to several of the tunnels in Jersey and Guernsey where they were used, as were those in Alderney, for storage etc.’

Comments for: "Chemical weapon V-1s in Alderney ‘fantasy’"


A measured reply to these attacks has been published in the Alderney Journal. It is worth reading.

Col. Richard Kemp and Alderney resident John Weigold, a former Army officer, have good reputations for historical research. There is need for cool, calm, reasoned debate.


I read that 2 Alderney States members have threatened a prominent member of the island community to watch what he says about the Kemp & Weigold story or he'll be accused of holocaust denial.

Cool, calm and reasoned debate?


I have utter confidence in Trevor Davenport's views, and none whatsoever in the immaginations of these two fantacists. There are so many flaws in their argument it is hard to know where to start when ripping gaping holes in it. Not least is the fact that Hitler had no interest in using Sarin. If he had, would he not have used it in 1945 to defend Berlin from the Russians whom he feared and hated? If he wanted to build V1 launch platforms in Alderney, what was stopping him when he had the run of the place throughout the war, including several years after he had completed them in Normandy? Their 'revelations' are total nonsense.


A member of the Occupation Society has stated that sarin was not available during WW2 and Beanjar claims that Hitler was not interested in using it. I quote from Wiki -

'In mid-1939, the formula for the agent was passed to the chemical warfare section of the German Army Weapons Office, which ordered that it be brought into mass production for wartime use. Pilot plants were built, and a high-production facility was under construction (but was not finished) by the end of World War II. Estimates for total sarin production by Nazi Germany range from 500 kg to 10 tons. Though sarin, tabun and soman were incorporated into artillery shells, Germany did not use nerve agents against Allied targets.'

The Germans manufactured and harnessed sarin as a potential weapon. The capability existed. Artillery shells incorporating sarin were designed and made. That is part of the historical context for the Kemp - Weigold thesis and it invites careful consideration. The letter written by Weigold in the Alderney Journal is a good starting point.


You mentioned me as though you were somehow refuting what I wrote. I never said Hitler didn't have chemical/biological weapons, I said he had no interest in using them. Which he didn't, even when desperately giving untrained old men and 12-year-olds panzerfausts to use against Russian tanks. I have no doubt that Hitler could have used all sorts of nasties in V1's and V2's, bombs and artillery shells throughout the war - but he chose not to.

Not because he was a softy, but because he had suffered from a gas attack himself in WW1 and did not enjoy it. Perhaps he was also expecting like-for-like retaliation from Churchill, probably rightly so.


Thank you for your post. The debate is about the possible existence in Alderney of facilities for launching a gas attack on southern England. If I understood you correctly, you initially rejected that thesis on the grounds that Hitler was not interested in gas attacks ['Not least is the fact that Hitler had no interest in using Sarin'].

I replied by pointing out that the German army prepared to launch gas attacks from 1939 onwards, - manufacturing sarin, designing delivery systems. Whether they were used or not is irrelevant to the Alderney debate. The Kemp thesis argues that preparations were made there.

I made reference to the Alderney Journal. I apologise for a faulty reference. It should have been to the Alderney Press 12-26 May 2017.


Benedict, why are you persisting with this wild fantasy which you attempt to dignify by calling a 'thesis'. Rather than dwell on what the Germans might, theoretically, have done, just explain why they didn't build any launch ramps for these supposed V1's in Alderney? In Normandy and elsewhere they were already built and in use from June 1944 onwards. They were clearly visible in aerial photographs and remnants are still in place. Where are Alderney's?

All there is in Alderney is some tunnels. Nothing unusual about that whatsoever, the Germans built tunnels everywhere and used them for an enormous range of purposes. Like these in Alderney, a great many were unfinished if the geology was not right or if their requirements changed. Unlike completed fortifications, there is often little evidence about abandoned tunnels so their proposed function is often the subject of wild speculation. I even read one mad book that said a particular tunnel on Alderney was an unfinished gas chamber!

There was absolutely nothing to stop Hitler from using Sarin etc. at any stage during the war if he had wanted to. He could have fired it in shells or dropped it in bombs etc. He didn't need to fire it via fantasy V1's from a non-existent 'secret base' in Alderney. Even if he had wanted wanted to, he would have done so in 1944 rather than wait while he lost the war.


Col. Kemp is ridiculed in academic circles as a sensationalist. Personally speaking, anyone who thinks women shouldn't serve on the front line because they 'lack killer instinct' doesn't get the time of day.

Perhaps if you read The Daily Mail then all his big words (two syllables upwards) might make him seem authority on almost anything. On a good day they struggle to publish an article without typos.

Island Wide Voting

Shouldn't that be 'an' authority or possibly 'authoritative'?


Oh the irony. Quite. It should.


Thank you for your post. Many of my military friends regret the presence of females on the front line. They feel - rightly or wrongly - that in developing the 'killer instinct' they compromise traditional feminine virtues of compassion and mercy. You may well disagree with that judgment but I would merely observe that Colonel Kemp is far from alone in his ideas.

I wonder how an ad hominem attack on Kemp for his views about the deployment of a 21st century army are relevant to an historical debate about WW2.

I have not found Kemp ridiculed in the academic company that I keep.

Medium G

But why would they place a unique V1 launching base on Alderney, with greatly increased logistical risks as a result?

It makes no sense, and as such, surely the evidence is coincidental?


Alderney was eminently suitable. There were only a handful of islanders living there, the Germans enjoyed total control. The V 1 sites just a few miles away in Normandy were vulnerable to the spying conducted by the French resistance - and subsequent bombing by the RAF.

Medium G

But what about the logistical problems of shipping all the components? I do suspect it more likely that the similarities in tunnel design are as a result of one design being used for multiple purposes.

Interesting theory, though.


Benedict, are you trolling? Can you not see how incongruous even your own arguments are? You say Hitler had access to Sarin, Sabun etc. since the beginning of the war. You acknowledge that Hitler had built his V1 launch sites in Normandy already. You say "Alderney was eminently suitable" as a launch site because "there were only a handful of islanders living there, the Germans enjoyed total control". Yes, I agree. And there was also unlimited slave labour to build it.

So if they really wanted to build it, why was it not built? After D-Day, 6 June 1944, development and implementation of all Hitler's secret weapons pushed ahead - V1, V2, V3, jet fighters and bombers, guided bombs and missiles of every description to name but a few. Not one of them involved the use of chemical or biological warfare.

Building a poison gas V1 base on Alderney would have been small beer if Hitler had wanted one, the simple truth is that he didn't. Come to that, why didn't he build another one near the Pas de Calais where he was expecting the allied invasion?


There was a very well made documentary recently on National Geographic, called Nazi Megastructures which focused on the channel islands. they went through the Alderney fortifications (luftwaffe command post) but no mention of any V1/V2 launch sites on the island.


Thank you for your post. The programme was made before the publication of the Kemp-Weigold thesis.

I remember being at Alderney museum in 1978. A visitor suggested that the Nunnery was a Roman building. He was told by the local expert that it was medieval. Archaeological orthodoxy now has it that the Nunnery was indeed Roman.


MediumG, Beanjar

Thank you for your posts.

Logistics - demonstrably a great deal of material was shipped from France to Alderney throughout the war. The material required for the poison gas project would have constituted just a tiny fraction of all that was taken to Alderney for all purposes. And there is the fisherman's evidence about the containers painted yellow, the use of gas masks by German soldiers on Alderney, the presence of the SS...

It would be relatively easy to come up with a sequence of theories to deal with each of these features. But you then run into the difficulty of Occam's razor.

Beanjar - I fear that I do not follow your argument. We have seen that the German army developed the capacity to wage chemical warfare. We have seen that shells were designed. The fact that the Germans did not resort to chemical warfare is not germane to a debate about the preparation for such warfare.

Your arguments revolve around Hitler. He gave orders that Paris was to be razed to the ground in the summer of 1944. His order was not carried out. That is one of many instances of a gap between Hitler's desires and the historical reality of what did/did not happen.

In the beginning a member of the Occupation Society denied that sarin was available in World War 2. I think that we now agree that it was. The Kemp-Weigold theory hypothesises that preparations were made in Alderney to launch an attack on the south of England. The evidence that they adduce merits careful consideration. I keep an open mind.

Increasingly new material is being published about WW2. A great deal has come to light in the last few years. I think of the research that has demonstrated what Frank Foley accomplished in the 1930s in Berlin and Vienna. I note also the recent thesis about the German attack on the Isle of White - a matter allegedly covered up by the British government for understandable reasons. My own university professor did significant intelligence work that has never been written up. My own father worked for Intelligence but went to his grave without talking about it. Our knowledge of WW2 is still patchy and imperfect.

I conclude as I started - I recommend the reading of the letter by Weigold in the Alderney Press 12-26 May.


Oh well, if anybody is allowed to come up with a ludicrous half-baked 'thesis', mine is as follows: This tunnel happens to have exactly the same dimensions as that of Santa Claus's grotto. Based on that, it is obvious that Hitler had a secret army of elves who were mining dinosaur fossils. Which would be bought back to life, Jurassic Park style, to stage a last ditch defence of the Reich.


Occam's Razor springs to mind. This theory requires several leaps of faith.

**Firstly**, the conclusion that a V1 site existed at all is based primarily on supposition. Yes the tunnels *could* have housed them, yes they valley *could* have been modified to launch in the general direction of Weymouth, yes there is no definitive proof that they *weren't* used for this purpose.

That's a fairly loose basis. The tunnels also match the dimensions of several other known munitions, fuel storage and electricity generation tunnels in the channel islands. They are also directly beneath one of the most heavily equiped strong points on the island (Gaswerks) and would have been a vital, well protected storage depot for this facility. Finally, I can find no evidence of the Cherbourg V1 sites with "exactly the same dimensions" as proposed by Kemp. Heavy V1 sites on the Cherbourg peninsula has curved storage bunkers, but that's about the only similarity. By the latter years of the war, V1 sites were mainly 'lite' sites which featured small, unassuming storage facilities (sheds) to avoid aerial detection, and mobile ramps.

**Secondly**, the evidence for Sarin gas involvement is even less well founded. The ONLY 'evidence' put forward seems to be a eye witness account from a Guernsey fisherman, who claims to have seen some yellow containers being offloaded in Alderney's Harbour. Now, even if we leap tot he conclusion that these were chemical containers (could have been many other things), and even if we jump to the above mentioned unlikely conclusion that a V1 facility existed on Alderney; the 'chemicals' could easily have just been the standard T-stoff and Z-stoff chemicals required to launch normal V1 missiles.

Long story short: There is very little evidence Ho5 and Ho6 tunnels were a secret V1 site put it is technically possible, however unlikely. There is absolutely zero evidence that Sarin or any other chemical weaponry was intended to be used in V1 that *might* have existed on Alderney.


Oh and on the other assertions about the volume of slave labourers who died in Alderney. This seems to have been molded into a partisan issue. Either you believe that 10s of thousands of workers were brutally murdered in indescribably horrible conditions or else you think it's all exaggeration and "only" a few hundred perished.

Reality, as usual, lies somewhere in the middle.

It is beyond doubt (through careful research of documentation, eye-witness accounts, interrogation and study of aerial photography) that a large scale slave labour facility existed on Alderney and at least one camp was a 'concentration camp' run by the SS for several years of the occupation. It is also beyond doubt that the number of prisoners killed (either through barbaric punishment or through forced labour) runs into the thousands. Trying to play down these facts is tactless at best and despicable at worst. Trying to avoid 'death tourism' or 'holocaust tourism' is disgraceful and is no-ones decision to make. What happened happened. And how people want to react to what happened is their decision.

However, trying to inflate the figures again using nothing but conjecture, making unfounded assumptions about 'marching thousands of prisoners off the cliffs' etc, proposing unverifiable claims of chemical weapons facilities and implying an island wide holocaust-denying cover-up is utterly disgraceful.

I don't doubt the author's motives. They genuinely seem to think more needs to be done to make people aware of the atrocities, and to a degree I concur. But these sensationalist claims and accusations are not the way to go about it.