Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Traveling Tuesday: Alderney During WWII

Traveling Tuesday: Alderney and WWII

Continuing in my series about the German occupation of the Channel Islands, today we’re going to visit Alderney, the northernmost of the inhabited islands. With an area of three square miles, it is the third largest of the Channel Islands. The origin of the island’s name is obscure with several theories associated with it.

Led by the bailiff, Judge French, almost the entire population of Alderney evacuated when the notification came about the invasion. One report indicates that eighteen people refused to leave the island, but boats from Guernsey came and retrieved the majority of them. The Germans arrived on a nearly deserted island.

The island was used to grow food to supply the troops and islanders, but the main use of the troops and
subsequent labor force was to fortify the island as part of Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall.” By 1942, four camps (two labor, and two concentration) had been built to house POWs and Jewish slave laborers. According to multiple sources, several hundred of the approximately 6,000 prisoners died before the rest were moved to France in 1944, however, others claim there were significantly more inmates and a higher death count. Most of the records were destroyed therefore, exact numbers are unavailable. The camps are not preserved or commemorated.

During the war, primarily after Normandy, the island was occasionally blockaded by the Royal Navy resulting in hunger and privation. Negotiations enabled some Red Cross humanitarian aid, but indications are that the German troops were near starvation.

Courtesy: visitalderney.com
Alderney was surrendered by the Germans on May 16, 1945, eight days after the Allies received the formal unconditional surrender of the German High Command, however, the remaining two thousand prisoners were not removed until four days later. Under British military supervision, the remaining five hundred German soldiers cleaned up the island, including the removal of more than 30,000 mines.

When the Alderney citizens returned in December 1945, they were dismayed to find many houses in disrepair, the Germans having burned anything wooden for fuel. Having evacuated, the islanders were saved, but it was months before their homes and businesses would recover from the devastation.


Francine’s Foibles

She's given up hope. He never had any. Will they find it together?

World War II is finally over, and America is extra grateful as the country approaches this year’s Thanksgiving. But for Francine life hasn’t changed. Despite working at Fort Meade processing the paperwork for the thousands of men who have returned home, she’s still lonely and very single. Is she destined for spinsterhood?

Grateful that his parents anglicized the family surname after emigrating to the United States after the Great War, first-generation German-American Ray Fisher has done all he can to hide his heritage. He managed to make it through this second “war to end all wars,” but what American woman would want to marry into a German family. Must he leave the country to find wedded bliss?

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