Hallmuir POW Chapel

A remarkable small B-listed chapel hidden away amongst what appear to be tatty industrial buildings 1½ miles (2.5 km) south southwest of Lockerbie and 4 miles (6.5 km) north of Dalton in Dumfries and Galloway, the Hallmuir POW Chapel is a simple army hut, clad with painted corrugated asbestos cement sheets. However, the interior has been transformed into a beautifully ornate Ukrainian chapel. A screen divides the main body of the church from the sanctuary, with doors which are closed during services. Within the nave is a tinsel-covered chandelier and hand-carved statues and furniture. The ceiling is painted blue and decorated with golden stars. A brightly-coloured altar occupies the sanctuary, surmounted by a model of the Greek Catholic Cathedral in Kiev, created from memory by one of the prisoners of war.

It was built 1947-50 by Ukrainian captives who were sent from Italy to Scotland, rather than being handed over to the Soviet Union who would most likely have killed them. These were volunteers from German-occupied Ukraine who had fought on the Eastern Front for the Nazis in the Galicia Division of the Waffen-SS. Most were nationalists, who hated the Russians and hoped the Germans would grant their homeland independence. The camp had previously been occupied by Italians who had established a Roman Catholic chapel, but this was converted into a Ukranian Greek Catholic Church. Many of the former prisoners settled locally and the chapel is still in regular use, with services on the first Sunday of each month. Friendly custodians maintain an archive of information relating to the chapel and the Ukranian community in Scotland in an adjacent caravan. Several other buildings which once formed part of the POW camp remain, now used for storage and as workshops. The residential huts to the south are now gone, but their concrete bases remain. The former recreation ground beyond is now overgrown by scrub.

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