Operation Basalt

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Coordinates: 49°25′48″N 2°21′54″W / 49.430°N 2.365°W / 49.430; -2.365

Operation Basalt
Part of World War II
Musée dé l'Otchupâtion, Sèr.jpg
Sark Occupation and Heritage Museum
Date 3-4 October 1942
Location Sark
Result British victory
Belligerents
 United Kingdom Nazi Germany Germany
Strength
10 20
Casualties and losses
None four killed, one captured

Operation Basalt was a small British raid conducted during World War II on the German occupied British Channel Island of Sark.[1]

On the night of 3–4 October 1942 ten men of the Special Operations Executive's Small Scale Raiding Force, and No. 12 Commando, landed on Sark with the object of offensive reconnaissance and capturing prisoners.

Nine of the raiders broke into the house of a local while the tenth went to a covert rendezvous with an SOE agent. The occupant of the house, Frances Pittard, proved very informative and advised there were about 20 Germans in the nearby Dixcart Hotel. She also declined an offer to take her back to England.

In front of the hotel was a long hut-type building, apparently unguarded. This annexe comprised a corridor and five rooms wherein were five sleeping Germans, none found to be officers. The men were roused and taken outside whereafter the Commandos decided to go on to the hotel and capture more of the enemy. To minimise the guard left with the captives, the Commandos tied the prisoners' hands with the six-foot toggle ropes each carried, and required them to hold up their trousers. The practice of removing belts and/or braces and tearing open the fly was quite a common technique the Commandos used to make it as difficult as possible for captives to run away.

While this was being undertaken, one prisoner started shouting to alert those in the hotel and was instantly shot dead with a .38 revolver. The enemy now alerted, incoming fire from the hotel became considerable and the raiders elected to return to the beach with the remaining four prisoners. En route, three prisoners made a break. Whether or not some had freed their hands during the firefight is not established nor if all three broke at the same time. Two were believed shot and one stabbed. The fourth was conveyed safely back to England and provided information. The raiders also took with them an SOE agent who had been posing as a Polish worker doing forced labour on the island.

A few days later, the Germans issued a communiqué implying at least one prisoner had escaped and two were shot while resisting having their hands tied. It is believed that this contributed to Hitler's decision to issue his Commando Order instructing all captured Commandos or Commando-type personnel be executed as a matter of procedure.

Names of some of the soldiers on the raid:

David Niven, who participated in Channel raids, states in his autobiography The Moon's a Balloon that the commandos who landed on Sark were taken to the local pub by the locals for a drink. However, Niven also erroneously stated that there were no German troops on Sark at the time.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fowler, Will (2012). Allies at Dieppe: 4 Commando and the US Rangers. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 9781780965963.