A difficult homecoming for the people of Alderney, it was far from joyous, the island they returned to was not how they remembered it, indeed barely recognizable after five years of German Occupation, and the devastated landscape now had a very sad story to tell.
StampNews.com is glad to introduce the Alderney stamp issue that is devoted to this touching story that evolved after the Great World. Let's get acquainted with it.
During the Second World War, the Channel Islands were the only part of the British territory to be occupied by the Germans. In June 1940 almost the entire population of the island of Alderney was evacuated. Most of the 1,500 residents left on official evacuation boats sent from mainland Britain.
When the German troops arrived in Alderney they found it virtually deserted. Following Hitler's instructions they set to work fortifying the island to form part of his 'Atlantic Wall'. Four concentration camps were built, and forced labour was used to build bunkers, gun emplacements and air-raid shelters.
The war raged on, until eventually, after almost five years, the Germans finally surrendered Alderney on May 16th, 1945, seven days after the liberation of sister islands Guernsey and Jersey and eight days after the Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.
On the return to their island, Alderney evacuees had little or no knowledge of what had happened on their tiny island, some of the evidence however was clear to see, with vast concrete fortifications and graves marking the numerous prisoners who had perished there. Many of the island's buildings were completely derelict due to the fact that anything wooden, including front doors, had been burned for fuel during the desperate times.
Over two thousand German prisoners of war were removed from Alderney on 20th May 1945, leaving around 500 Germans to undertake clearing up operations under British military supervision.