Russian Soldiers at Rest in Wiltshire
In July 1940, the Germans took complete control of the Channel Island of Alderney. By May 1942, having built four camps on the island, the Schutzstaffel SS Baubrigade began to ship in 6,000 POWS, mostly East Europeans, to build military fortifications, as forced labour.
About 1,600 of the POWS were Soviet soldiers, captured during the later part of 1941. During their time on Alderney they were brutally treated, starved and forced to work long hours in all conditions. Many were executed because they were too ill to work. Approximately 700 died on the island. Just before the end of 1944, the Germans, to try and avoid war crimes trials, shipped the remaining prisoners back to France.
When the British liberated Alderney on 16th May 1945, they found three Russian POWS hiding in a derelict cottage. They were starving and all had wounds from their treatment by the SS. The three were taken by the Red Cross ship Vega to Weymouth. From there they were moved to the Tidworth Military Hospital in Wiltshire, but sadly they could not be saved.
All three: Nikolay Horiacyk, Alexei Noyakres and Stanislav Suleimanow were buried, side by side, in the Military Cemetery at Tidworth Garrison. On or about Motherland Day, 23rd February, each year two officials from the Russian Embassy in London visit the graves to lay wreaths in remembrance. The three graves continue to be meticulously cared for by the MOD gardening staff.
Russian soldiers’ graves at the Military Cemetery, Tidworth Garrison, Wiltshire.