Guernsey Press

Alderney remembers the slave workers who died

A REMEMBRANCE service for the slave labourers who died in Alderney during the Second World War was held at the Hammond Memorial on Sunday.

The annual service to remember slave workers who died on Alderney during the Second World War was held at the Hammond Memorial on Sunday. (Picture supplied by Alex Snowdon)

About 50 people attended, with a number of speeches given by faith group leaders over the course of the 45-minute service.

Hundreds of slave workers died on the island during the Occupation, after being brought from across Europe to build the Nazis’ defences.

The memorial was designed by local architect Roger Warren and built in 1966 by the Hammond family to remember the workers.

Alderney representative to the States of Guernsey, Alex Snowdon, said that the service was well-attended.

‘It’s a service that is held at the Hammond Memorial every year. Unfortunately none of the relatives of the victims were able to come this year, but they have done so in previous years. It is important to remember those who died in such harsh conditions.’

Wreathes were laid by States of Alderney President William Tate on behalf of the States, and by members of the Hammond family.

Jewish and French prayers were also read out in acknowledgement of Les Amicales des Anciens Deportees d’Aurigny, an organisation that was formed by prisoners who returned to France after the war.

‘As the prayers were being read out some mist and fog descended on us, which gave the service an even more poignant feel. It’s important that the community continues to come together to remember events such as this, especially as there are only a few islanders left who experienced the Occupation first-hand,’ Mr Snowdon said.

Up to 700 died

The official number of deaths recorded in Alderney during the war is 337, but research undertaken by Staffordshire University in 2019 estimated that more than 700 people died, with some believing that the real total could even be in the thousands.

The island’s main Liberation event is known as Homecoming Day, which is held on 15 December every year.

This is because islanders who were evacuated were unable to return until December 1945 due to the need to make the island safe and remove more than 30,000 landmines.