231 years ago yesterday French forces landed at La Rocque Harbour and marched through the eastern parishes to town. It was Old Christmas Night and, basically, the Jersey Militia guards were too inebriated to notice the invasion. The Governor tamely surrendered to the French leader Baron de Rullecourt. However the young English tyro Major Francis Peirson thought that this was a crap decision. He gathered his troops and, in the Battle of Jersey, won the day. Peirson took the glory but got himself killed for his trouble.
But there were other casualties that day including a number of the Eastern Militia. Today as I plodded past Grouville Church just before 11 there was a quaint little ceremony going on. There were about a dozen blokes dressed up as militia; they included a big lad who looked relieved they only had to march about the churchyard, plus a boy of about seven in full regalia. Prayers were said, the church clock struck the hour and the militia let off three rounds of musket shot. What a palaver to shoot those things – even if their 1781 comrades had not been pissed the French would have been able to march off laughing whilst they loaded their muskets.
Meanwhile the Grouville honorary police held up the traffic on the main road for fifteen minutes or so to allow the ceremony to take place – another great Jersey tradition of which I thoroughly approve.
And the whole thing gave me a bit of a rest before the haul up Blood Hill and the rest of my run for the day.