A University of Cambridge archaeologist has discovered the sad end to a tale of resistance on the only British territory to be occupied by the Nazis during World War II—the Channel Islands. Sidney Ashcroft was 20 years old and living on the island of Guernsey in 1942 when, as family members recall, he punched a German officer who had pushed his mother; he may have also stolen food. (The Guardian notes that there was one German soldier for every three Channel Islanders, making it "more heavily guarded than other occupied territories.") He was arrested and sent from Guernsey, which sits off Normandy in the English Channel, to a Nazi prison in mainland Europe the day before his 21st birthday, never to return home. His mother, who died in 1981, tried to learn his fate and always believed he would someday surface.
But during a BBC investigation, Dr. Gilly Carr discovered that he had survived the war only to die of tuberculosis in the Straubing prison hospital in Germany just a week after the country surrendered. Carr—who says she had an "overwhelming desire ... to seek justice" for Ashcroft after seeing a haunting photograph of the young man—used Red Cross records to find the unmarked mass grave where he was buried. She traveled there with his second cousin, Chris Roberts, who left a memorial stone at the site describing Ashcroft as a political prisoner. "It's an appalling thought that Sidney just disappeared into the maw of Europe," Roberts tells the BBC. Ashcroft's name is also on a memorial to Nazi victims unveiled on Guernsey earlier this year, the Reporter notes. (The forest outside a Nazi death camp has yielded a disturbing find.)