Battle of Graveney Marsh
|Battle of Graveney Marsh|
|Part of World War II|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Cpt. John Cantopher||Uffz. Fritz Ruhlandt|
|1st Bat. London Irish Rifles||Luftwaffe bomber crew|
|Casualties and losses|
4 taken prisoner
The Battle of Graveney Marsh, which occurred on the night of 27 September 1940 in Kent, England, is the most recent ground battle involving a foreign force to take place on mainland Great Britain. The fighting took place between the crew of a downed German Junkers Ju 88 bomber and a detachment of soldiers from the 1st Battalion London Irish Rifles in Seasalter.
On 27 September, British Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane fighter planes from No. 66 and No. 92 Squadron RAF attacked what they recognized as a new variant of Junkers 88 over Faversham. An order had been issued to them to capture one such aircraft intact if possible. One of the bomber's engines had already been damaged by anti-aircraft fire during a raid on London and the Spitfires were able to destroy its remaining engine, forcing the pilot to make a crash landing on Graveney Marsh.
When the London Irish Rifles arrived at the scene from their billet at the Sportsman Inn in nearby Seasalter, the four German crew members had unexpectedly armed themselves with machine guns from the aircraft and a submachine gun. After a heavy exchange of gunfire, during which one German airman was shot in the foot, the Germans surrendered to their opponents and were taken prisoner.
Captain John Cantopher succeeded in disarming a demolition charge. This action meant the bomber, which was equipped with a new and very accurate type of bombsight, was captured for examination by British experts. The aircraft was taken to Farnborough Airfield where it was said to have "provided highly valuable information". Cantopher was subsequently awarded the George Medal for his action.
In September 2010, the London Irish Rifles Regimental Association marked its 70th anniversary by unveiling a commemorative plaque at the Sportsman pub.
- Green, Ron; Mark Harrison (30 September 2009). "Forgotten frontline exhibition tells how Luftwaffe fought with soldiers on Kent marshes". KentOnline.
- "Kent battle between German bomber crew and British soldiers marked after 70 years". The Daily Telegraph. 20 August 2010. Archived from the original on 23 August 2010. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- "The last battle on British soil? Little-known conflict at Graveney Marsh finally remembered after 70 years". The Daily Mail. 20 August 2010. Archived from the original on 23 August 2010. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- "(Supplement) no. 35050". The London Gazette. 21 January 1941. p. 462. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
- "Recommendations for Honours and Awards (Army)" (fee usually required to view pdf of original recommendation). DocumentsOnline. The National Archives. Retrieved 24 August 2010.