Remembering Operation Basalt: capturing the enemy

The occupation of the Channel Islands is well documented, but one story of British forces being sent to capture Nazi soldiers in Sark is less well known...

Operation Basalt was created to extract intelligence from Hitler's army, who were on Britain's doorstep.

On 3 October 1942, 12 British Commandos crossed the Channel from Portland to Sark in a motor torpedo boat.

They climbed up cliffs but didn't have any knowledge on where the German soldiers were, so started knocking on doors for information.

A 40-year-old widow, Mrs Pettard, told them they were at the Dixcart Bay hotel.

After discovering one soldier, they silenced him and went on to arrest others.

But, Eric Lee, the author of a book on the raid, explains their plan went wrong when the soldiers started causing a raucous.

They ended up shooting dead two of the captive men.

The efforts saw a ruthless reaction from Hitler and the Commando Order was issued around the world, which meant any commando who was captured should be killed, not imprisoned.

Islanders recently gathered in Sark's Island Hall to celebrate the release of the book which tells the heroic tale.

They heard from James Edger, the last remaining member of the British Commando force, known as Britain's Band of Brothers.

He has just celebrated his 96th birthday and says he has since gone on to live a "long and happy life" after the war.