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Latitude: 50.1904 / 50°11'25"N
Longitude: -5.0687 / 5°4'7"W
OS Eastings: 181053
OS Northings: 36767
OS Grid: SW810367
Mapcode National: GBR ZD.R3QN
Mapcode Global: FRA 088J.93J
Plus Code: 9C2P5WRJ+4G
Entry Name: Ukrainian cross
Listing Date: 30 March 2022
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1480782
ID on this website: 101480782
Location: Mylor Bridge, Cornwall, TR11
Civil Parish: Mylor
Traditional County: Cornwall
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall
Cross, erected on 7 June 1948 by Ukrainian refugees.
Cross, erected on 7 June 1948 by Ukrainian refugees.
MATERIALS: carved stone cross on a brick and block base, painted white, with a slate plaque.
The cross is located on the verge of a dead-end road between Mylor Bridge and Restronguet Barton. It comprises a Latin cross inscribed with a further cross (now gilded), set on a stepped, tall base. On the roadside (south) face of the base is slate plaque inscribed: THIS SYMBOL OF FAITH / IN GOD WAS ERECTED BY UKRAINIANS / WHO ESCAPING FROM RUSSIAN COMMUNISTS, / FOUND REFUGE IN ENGLAND / 7 June 1948.
At the end of the Second World War, and after the collapse of Nazi Germany, an estimated 11 million people were displaced, having fled or been forced out and therefore unable or unwilling to return to their homes. This included over two million Ukrainians in western Europe; many were forcibly conscripted to work in Germany, but there were also intellectuals and activists fleeing from Soviet repressions, those in the Red Army captured by Germans, and other political prisoners released from German concentration camps. A wave of repatriation occurred in the second half of 1945, although this left around 250,000 Ukrainians who did not wish to return to the Soviet countries. Most were accommodated in camps until in 1947 the International Refugee Organisation (IRO) allowed for displaced persons and refugees to be resettled in countries willing to accept them, including the United Kingdom.
Amongst the first large numbers of Ukrainians to settle in the UK were members of the Polish II Corps of the British Eighth Army (formed in July 1943 when the British took command of a Polish army, mainly comprising prisoners of war, established by the Soviets in 1941), and 8,500 Ukrainian former soldiers from the Galicia Division who were transferred to the UK from Italy. They were accommodated in prisoner of war camps across the country, mainly in the rural agricultural areas in the south and east of England. Between August and October 1948 these men were admitted onto the European Voluntary Workers (EVW) scheme; the camps were officially designated as hostels.
The EVW scheme was an immediate post-war British government initiative to boost the British workforce following labour shortages as a result of the war by inviting displaced people from all over Europe with the promise of guaranteed employment; despite the name they received the same wages as British workers. The scheme, first approved in 1946, involved the recruitment of men and women predominately from eastern Europe, including Ukraine, who had been in camps administered by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and the IRO in Germany and Austria. Most Ukrainian arrivals came to the UK in late 1947 and early 1948 totalling around 21,860 individuals, including dependants, by the end of 1949. They were housed in hostels of varying types until they could find private accommodation. Most were able to leave the hostels in 1951 when employment restrictions were lifted from whose who had lived in the UK for at least three years. The hostels had largely closed by the mid-1950s.
The hostel residents spent most of their time at work, but outside of working hours organised a range of educational, cultural and recreational activities. The activities were overseen by committees formed by the residents, and they were also supported by the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB), who provided support about living in the UK and also facilitated visits by Ukrainian priests to conduct church services and provide pastoral care.
The refugees who came to Mylor Bridge in 1947 were just some of the hundreds of Ukrainian men, women and children who found themselves in Cornwall after fleeing violent persecution by the communist regime installed in their home country by the Soviet Army. The refugees were accommodated in a hostel between Mylor Bridge and Restronguet Barton. The site, known locally as ‘the gun sites’ is thought to have been a German prisoner of war sub-camp, although there was also an anti-aircraft base in the area; the hostel would have reused buildings on the site. Many of the refugees were employed as agricultural workers, but some may also have contributed to Cornwall’s mining and fishing industries. They had a strong Orthodox faith and would organise services in a chapel converted from a Nissen hut at the site, with local priests holding services for them. The Ukrainians lived here for around a year, gradually dispersing into permanent accommodation in surrounding villages.
A year after their arrival, the Ukrainian refugees built a cross near to their hostel as a symbol of their gratitude for refuge and also of their strong faith. On 7 June 1948 three Roman Catholic priests blessed the cross and a chapel nearby which had been converted from a Nissen hut.
In June 2008 the cross was rededicated to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the erection of the cross. Some of the original refugees (including the original camp leader) along with their descendants attended the ceremony; many had remained in Cornwall.
The Ukrainian cross near Mylor Bridge is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* for its association with Ukrainian refugees who had fled to the United Kingdom during and directly after the Second World War;
* as a reminder of the contribution made by foreign nationals during that war and their help in the consequent national recovery;
* as a rare example of a commemorative structure made by a specific group of people to give thanks for refuge;
* as a sombre reminder of the impact of world events on communities throughout history.
* the simple construction of the cross from the materials to hand and as built by the Ukrainian refugees adds to the poignancy of the structure.
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