16th May 1945

Alderney was liberated at the end of the second world war

Alderney suffered greatly during the second world war. Many of its residents evacuated to the mainland, and those who stayed were moved to Guernsey by the occupying forces. This left the German troops free to build four concentration camps for foreign workers and detainees, largely out of sight.

Military outpost

In all, 3,202 German soldiers were stationed on Alderney during the occupation. They oversaw thousands of Operation Todt workers who had been brought from all over Europe to help build the concrete fortifications that Hitler hoped would allow Germany to hang on to the only parts of British territory it managed to capture.

When Alderney’s own population returned at the end of the war, they found the island greatly changed. Alderney was the most heavily fortified of the Channel Islands, and although the Germans had tried to destroy some of the evidence of what they’d been doing, the scars were everywhere. Many bunkers remain in their original condition. Elsewhere, there are more subtle markers, like the remains of camp gates that have otherwise been knocked down.

Alderney celebrates Homecoming Day every 15 December to mark the date on which a large part of its population returned. However, that was more than six months after its actual liberation, which took place on 16 May 1945 – one week after Guernsey had been liberated.

Liberation of Alderney

On that day, 46-year-old Brigadier Alfred Snow, who had been tasked with leading the liberation of the Channel Islands, sailed to Alderney. He was accompanied by troops and members of the press. His armed trawler landed at Braye Harbour and met with the commandant of Alderney to discuss the German surrender.

Within four days, four fifths of the Germans troops had been sent to prisoner of war camps on the mainland. Just 500 were kept back to help clear up and make good as much of the damage as possible. This included the removal of more than 30,000 mines, which contributed greatly to the delay in bringing Alderney’s residents home.

 

FREE Guernsey history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Guernsey's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want. We'll also keep you up to date with our latest book releases and early-bird discounts.

 

Other events that occured in May

Priaulx Library opens for the first time 1st
Horse racing returns to L’Ancresse race course 2nd
Guernsey deportee, nurse Gladys Skillett was born
“Twink” goes missing on its way to Guernsey 3rd
Role of Chief Minister of Guernsey abolished 4th
Guernsey Airport opened for business 5th
Alderney debated in the House of Commons 6th
Songs of Praise comes from Guernsey 7th
Final issue of Deutsche Guernsey-Zeitung was published 8th
Guernsey was liberated from German occupation 9th
A Guernsey retiree’s £1m offer attracts 57,000 requests 10th
A liberation celebration ended in disaster 11th
Guernsey plays Tottenham Hotspur 12th
Guernsey’s telephone wars broke out 13th
British papers reported Dame of Sark’s deportation 14th
The States of Guernsey bought Aurigny 15th
Alderney was liberated at the end of the second world war 16th
Herm goes back on the market 17th
A mainland murder with a Guernsey connection 18th
Guernsey declared a State of Emergency 19th
Wartime diplomat Wilfred Gallienne born in Guernsey 20th
Hauteville House is bequeathed to the City of Paris 21st
Guernsey poet and painter Denys Corbet was born 22nd
John Doyle was appointed Lieutenant-Governor 23rd
The Imperial Hotel opened for the first time 24th
Elizabeth College is founded in St Peter Port 25th
Game of Thrones actor Roy Dotrice was born 26th
Head of Guernsey CID is shot in St Peter Port 27th
Work started on the Victoria Tower
Guernsey’s first paid constables were hired 28th
Guernsey woman advised to leave for her safety 29th
Occupation stories occupy the mainland papers 30th
“Overdose” verdict in Guernsey farmer’s death inquiry 31st