Guernsey Press

German soldiers clean Fort George Military Cemetery war graves

A wreath-laying ceremony at Fort George Military Cemetery to remember those who died on the island during the Occupation marked the end of a week-long working visit to the island by 12 soldiers from the German army.

Last updated
Major Karsten Adrian has led a team of German soldiers in cleaning and clearing the military cemetery at Fort George. Yesterday they laid wreaths at a remembrance service. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 33407243)

The officers, who are based in the city of Erfurt, have been busy cleaning and tidying the cemetery’s war graves and the surrounding area as part of an initiative set up by the German War Graves Commission, a humanitarian organisation which records, maintains and cares for the graves of German war casualties abroad.

Fort George Military Cemetery is the final resting place of 111 German servicemen who died in the Bailiwick between 1940 and 1943.

Each of their names were read out by soldiers as part of the ceremony, which was led by the Rev. Mark Charmley, before wreaths were laid in tribute, including one by Bailiff Sir Richard McMahon.

German army Major Karsten Adrian, who was taking part in cleaning efforts for the third time after previous visits in 2018 and 2022, said his officers’ work had involved cutting back overbearing trees and branches, most notably on a Linden tree from the twinned German town of Biberach donated several years ago by the German War Graves Commission, as well as making general repairs to the graves as and where they were needed.

‘I was particularly pleased to be able to put up and restore one headstone that had fallen down,’ he said.

‘The difficulty of the work depends on each section, and I leave the really technical things to others who know more what they’re doing, but I think we’ve got things looking good.’

He added that it was important to honour those who died, no matter the country they served.

‘We erase the nation when it comes to doing something like this.

‘Most of the soldiers who died were just privates fighting for their lives.’

Guernsey honorary consul of the Federal Republic of Germany, Chris Betley, thanked the officers for their work, and said it was appropriate to honour those buried in the cemetery as part of the visit.

‘The weather hasn’t been the kindest but what they have managed to do in the time they’ve had is fantastic,’ he said.

‘It’s great to have been able to welcome them back once again.’