2nd July 1940
Alderney is occupied by German forces
Just the previous day – 1 July – the Western Morning News had reported,
Judge French, Governor of Alderney, and his staff arrived on the South Coast [of Britain] with the whole of the money in the island under armed guard.
French wasn’t the only Alderney local to travel to the mainland. Many were sent to Glasgow in advance of the German invasion. French wrote to the Lord Provost of Glasgow in early July 1940 to say, as quoted by The Scotsman,
Having lost … almost everything we possess, we have found with you a wealth of kindness that gives us courage and energy. Our gratitude is deep. There will be from now onwards a historic link between the great city over which you preside and the rocky island which is our home.
Before the invasion, Alderney had been home to 1400 people, 500 cattle and 40 horses, according to the book Alderney by Victor Coysh.
Any locals who had not already evacuated to the mainland were removed to Guernsey. With the island to themselves, German forced used slave labour to build defensive structures all over it between 1942 and 1943.
Alderney was home to four labour and concentration camps, which between them housed more than 4000 prisoners.
It remained occupied for longer than Guernsey and Jersey, finally being liberated one week after its neighbours on 16 May 1945. Its residents started returning in December of that year, and found the island greatly changed.
The Germans had closed the camps in 1944 as the war was turning against them. They transferred the prisoners to France and tried to destroy evidence of what they had done there – but weren’t entirely successful. Around 400 Occupation-era graves have been found so far.
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