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Page last updated at 16:27 GMT, Tuesday, 14 December 2010
A 'very hard' homecoming for the people of Alderney

Leaving their small island home

On 15 December 1945 people began to return to Alderney following five years of exile during World War II.

However, the island they returned to was not how the residents remembered it after five years of German Occupation.

Resident Buster Hammond said about his return: "Everywhere you went there were bunkers."

Since 2005 the day has been marked with a bank holiday, but resident Jackie Main said it should have been officially remembered sooner.

He said it would have been good for his parent's generation to see their work recognised.

The islanders were evacuated shortly before the German Occupation of the Channel Islands began at the end of June 1940.

Alderney was made into a fortress

Buster said: "We were sad to leave... we didn't realise the danger we were in even then - the Germans were on the coast of France and we could see the soldiers going down towards Cherbourg."

As they left people were only permitted to take a small bag or case with a few possessions and had to leave the rest, including homes, furniture and even cattle, behind.

Jackie was only five years old at the time, he said: "I never thought a lot of it at the time, but when I think about it now there was a poor old man, 90 years old, uprooted, all his worldly goods in a potato sack and it chokes me to think about it - that's the worst memory I had."

Five years later and the island they returned too was different from the one they had left.

Coming home to post war Alderney

Jackie said: "For children like us it was a big adventure playground, we made the most of it!

"For the parents it was harder, they saw their homes semi-destroyed and all had to be rebuilt and they had to rebuild their lives."

While the older residents were rebuilding their lives, some of the island's younger residents who had been children when they left were starting their adult lives.

Marjorie Davies said: "It was great at that age with all the soldiers here - that's how I met my husband."

Once they had returned from the evacuation many of the island's residents decided to leave again, and some never returned.

George Baron said: "Many people who came back to the island, when they saw the conditions and what the future lay, they decided to return to the United Kingdom and it was a very hard homecoming for those that stayed."

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