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41-Gun Salute: 'Opportunities Clearly Missed' In Jersey

The 1781 Jersey Militia Living History Group has hit back at some of the reasons given by the Bailiff's Chambers for Jersey not doing a 41-gun salute at the weekend in tribute to HRH Prince Philip.

The Duke of Edinburgh passed away last Friday at the age of 99.

Gun salutes were heard across the UK, Guernsey, Gibraltar, and on Royal Navy ships on Saturday to mark Prince Philip's death.

41 rounds were fired at a rate of one per minute, but not in Jersey.

The Bailiff's Chambers says it's because the island doesn’t have an official battery of cannons.

"The cannons used locally are privately owned and fired using pack powder, rather than the electronic firing system as operated in Guernsey. The difference between the systems is that Guernsey can quickly clear a misfired round, where as a misfire in Jersey during a gun salute renders the cannon inoperable thereafter, reducing the number of cannons to complete the salute.

"The local re-enactment militia are capable of delivering a 21 gun salute on a tried and tested basis, however, a succession of rounds totalling 41 rounds presented a higher degree of risk in completing 41 rounds for a gun salute in 40 minutes. It is on this basis that Jersey will only ever observe a 21 gun salute as planned for the Proclamation of the King, following the demise of Her Majesty.

"It should be noted that Guernsey maintains the hardware on Castle Cornet from the original responsibility of being a designated signal station within the British Isles."

The 1781 Jersey Militia Living History Group says a higher degree of training and safety is needed and provisions would be needed for possible misfires, but they can be overcome with proper planning 'and having a suitable contingency'.

CO Terry Underwood has told Channel 103 that to say the men of the militia were disappointed not to fire one of the most important tributes of a lifetime on behalf of the island to show respect is a gross understatement.

"I think the Government of Jersey have missed an opportunity here and has totally misread the feelings of the people in Jersey.

"We regularly do 21-gun salutes which has been alluded to in part of the statement, but there are other issues that come up about reliability.

"We've got seven private cannons. We have an extension to our explosive licence, each one of us who owns them, in order to have more black powder.

"We're the ones who pay for it, we're the ones who supply the cannons, but for long-term usage, there needs to be a contingency. They need to make some sort of contingency."

"Dave Dorgan the former CO and myself have been in various discussions over years where they've (the government) been given scenarios, where they've been given plans, costings, and all sorts of things in relation to it and they've brushed it under the carpet because it goes into the too difficult to do tray.

"They need to plan ahead."

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