23rd November 1942

A Lancaster bomber crashed on Sark

Stuttgart suffered heavy bombing on the night of 22nd to 23rd November 1942, with more than 200 bombers dropping their payloads onto the city. One of those bombers – Lancaster W4107 of the 49 Squadron – didn’t make it back to the mainland. Instead, it came down on Sark.

Sibyl Hathaway, Dame of Sark, described what happened in her autobiography:

There was great excitement one night when a Lancaster bomber made a forced landing in a field near the Seigneurie. The plane circled round and we were awakened by the noise… the German patrol appeared in our drive, running madly in order to take a short cut through the field… we heard no shots, although Bishop [the farm bailiff] said he could hear English voices… later I got details from the German doctor who confided to me that the plane was returning from a raid on Stuttgart. The navigating instruments had been shot away and four of the crew had bailed out over France, leaving only the pilot and two others to land here. They were taken off next day to a prison in Germany.

49 Squadron was disbanded in May 1965, but its Association website records many stories of its various members, including the tale of W4107’s hard landing.

A welcoming party

Having dropped its bombs on Stuttgart, the Lancaster was hit by several rounds of anti-aircraft fire, which set one engine and part of the fuselage burning. After four members of crew bailed out, two of the three remaining members put out the fire while Sergeant Eric Singleton concentrated on keeping the plane in the air.

Only when he saw what he believed was “friendly” land – by which he meant the mainland – did he bring W4107 down to land. Unfortunately, without navigational instruments to help, he’d made a miscalculation and actually landed in enemy-occupied Sark. As the crew left the plane they found themselves confronted by the officer who had run up Sibyl Hathaway’s drive.

“I thought it was the Home Guard,” Singleton is reported as saying. “But as they asked us to put up our hands we realised they were Germans.”

According to the Dame, “as they went they [the crew] signalled ‘thumbs up’ to our fishermen, the only people allowed to see them taken off from the harbour.”

 

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Other events that occured in November

Car plane air crash caused airport fireball 1st
A hospital worker stood accused of murder 2nd
Sark’s vineyards were vandalised 3rd
The original Torteval church was consecrated 4th
Sibyl Beaumont married Robert Hathaway 5th
The papers were excited by a Guernsey execution 6th
States of Guernsey hired its first independent vet 7th
The Little Theatre was reprieved… for a while 8th
Guernsey was declared free of cholera 9th
Guernsey optician Specsavers was founded 10th
The court considered a Guernsey porn dealer’s testimony 11th
Guernsey Yacht Club was founded 12th
Guernsey aimed for equal adoption rights 13th
Jethou’s tenant fell off his own cliff 14th
Dad’s Army actor John le Mesurier died 15th
A Guernsey recruit regretted signing up 16th
Horticultural painter William Caparne was born 17th
German forces confiscated Guernsey’s radios 18th
A plane crashed on Crevichon 19th
Sark featured in the music charts 20th
Guernsey recruits caused concern in Parliament 21st
First Guernsey competitor took part in Miss World 22nd
A Lancaster bomber crashed on Sark 23rd
Sark women get the right to inherit 24th
Spanish flu arrived on Guernsey 25th
Guernsey held its first full marathon 26th
Admiral Thomas Le Marchant Gosselin died 27th
HMS Boreas sank at Hanois 28th
Radio station Contact 94 went off the air 29th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry memorial was unveiled 30th