15 December 2015
Homecoming Day is marked every year to commemorate the return to Alderney of the first group of Islanders after WW2, following the mass evacuation of 1940. An important day in Alderney’s history, 2015 celebrates the 70th Anniversary of Homecoming Day.
Unlike the other Channel Islands, just about everyone left Alderney when ships arrived offering help, thus allowing the Nazis to do as they wished with the island.
On Hitler’s personal instructions it was turned into a land battleship, a key bulwark of the Atlantic Wall. Four concentration camps (the only ones ever built on British soil) housed thousands of slave labourers from all over Europe (including the Channel Islands) who, in conditions of appalling deprivation, converted the island’s picturesque Victorian forts into a Speer-inspired nightmare.
This year’s anniversary will be celebrated with many events, starting with the unveiling of a plaque outside the Court of Alderney at 10.00am. The plaque is inscribed with the poignant words written by Judge French on 22nd June 1940, and pinned to the Court door, advising the islanders of their impending evacuation.
The bells of St Anne’s Church will ring out at 10.30am, followed by an ecumenical service at 11.00am.
A Vin d’Honneur for Home-comers and dignitaries will take place in the Island Hall at 12.00pm.
In the afternoon, Home-comers are invited to attend a special screening of Charlie Gauvain’s film ‘Alderney – The Homecoming’ at the Alderney Cinema at 2.30pm. There will be readings by the children of St Anne’s School and a performance of the award-winning ‘Alderney’ song, from the Alderney Voices. Charlie will host a Q&A session following the film, after which, all are invited to the Georgian House for a get-together, with tea and cake. There will be a second showing of the film at 4.30pm.
To complete the festivities, at 7.30pm, the Island Hall hosts a unique musical play, ‘An Island Story’. The play is the work of Ray Parkin and will be particularly poignant to those who returned to the island in 1945. Produced with the support of the States of Alderney, Guernsey Arts Council and members of the community, and with members of the Alderney Blowers providing the musical accompaniment, this is a production on a scale which has never been seen in the Island Hall before. There will be three performances coinciding with Homecoming Day: December 14th,15th and 16th.
Tickets for the Alderney Cinema showing of Charlie Gauvain’s film ‘Alderney – The Homecoming’ are free of charge, but bookings must be made at the Visitor Information Centre, Victoria Street or by calling 01481 822300.
Please note that 15th December is a Public Holiday in Alderney