3rd October 1942

Sark was the target of Operation Basalt

Twelve British commandos raided Sark two years into its occupation. Their aim was to take prisoners and find out what they could about the number of soldiers stationed there.

The raid had originally been planned for the night of 18 – 19 September, but it was delayed twice. Initially it had been pushed back by just one day due to bad weather. However, it was called off entirely the following day when the submarine transporting the commandos was in Sark waters and the crew realised they wouldn’t be able to return to their boat before the sun rose.

Eventually it took place on the night of 3 – 4 October. The commandos landed close to Dixcart Bay and climbed the cliffs without being seen. Once on level ground they made contact with local woman Frances Pittard. She gave them copies of the Guernsey newspapers, which included details of the Germans’ forced transportation of Guernsey civilians to Germany. She also told them that they would find German soldiers sleeping in the nearby Dixcart Hotel.

Taking prisoners

The commandos captured some of the soldiers at the hotel. They tied them up while they went back into the building to see who else they could take. At this point, some of the German soldiers broke free and raised the alarm. This gave the commandos no choice but to head back to their submarine, taking as many of the prisoners as they could with them. Only one of the soldiers made it there safely, and was brought back to England.

Three others were killed, but all of the commandos survived.

The aftermath

Naturally, the remaining German forces on Sark increased security following the raid. In particular, they laid more mines, which the Dame of Sark, Sibyl Hathaway, ensured the occupying forces removed once she took command of them following the island’s liberation in 1945.

Several islanders were also deported. Among them was the Dame’s husband, Robert Hathaway, and Frances Pittard, who had given the commandos the newspapers and told them where they could find the sleeping German soldiers.

A memorial to the raid was unveiled on 3 October 2017 by John Appleyard, the half-brother of Major Geoffrey Appleyard, who had led the raid. It is a stone on the Hogs Back headland between Derrible Bay and Dixcart Bay, where the commandos came ashore.


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Other events that occured in October

Guernsey Post Office was established 1st
Guernsey switched to Reichsmarks 2nd
Sark was the target of Operation Basalt 3rd
Sark voted for democracy 4th
Guernsey lifeboat saved a Swedish schooner 5th
Jeeves actor died in Guernsey 6th
Sarnia Theatre celebrated its most successful year 7th
The Story of Adele H opened in cinemas 8th
Howards’ Way came to Guernsey 9th
Guernsey Ladies’ College opened 10th
A Trislander ate itself between Jersey and Guernsey 11th
The Channel Islands’ king set sail for England 12th
Major General Sir Isaac Brock died 13th
Footballer Matt Le Tissier was born 14th
Island FM brings commercial radio to Guernsey 15th
Channel Television saw off a rival broadcaster 16th
The first mines were dug on Sark 17th
Sark’s Stocks Hotel was damaged by fire 18th
Elizabeth College’s foundation stone was laid 19th
Hitler ordered the Channel Islands’ fortification 20th
Guernsey’s stone crackers demanded a pay rise 21st
The desalination plant opened 22nd
Sir Charles Hayward buys Jethou for £91,000 23rd
Guernsey Monopoly board game went on sale 24th
Dame Sibyl Hathaway chose her Desert Island Discs 25th
GUNS founder Charles Machon died 26th
Bailiff Sir Peter de Havilland was born 27th
A man “disappeared” from a Guernsey ferry 28th
Express & Star bought Guernsey Press 29th
The first lighthouses were built on the Casquets 30th
States of Guernsey voted to lower the voting age 31st