Operation Basalt

Operation Basalt


On the night of 3–4 October 1942 twelve men of the Special Operations Executive's Small Scale Raiding Force, and No. 12 Commando, left Portland on MTB 344 at 1900hrs and landed on Sark with the object of offensive reconnaissance and capturing prisoners.

Climbing the cliff at the Hog's Back, between Dixcart Bay and Derrible Bay, the Commandoes were not spotted by German sentries nor did they encounter any guards. Several of the raiders broke into the house of a local. The occupant of the house, Mrs Frances Noel Pittard, proved very informative and advised there were about 20 Germans in the annex to the nearby Dixcart Hotel. She also declined an offer to take her to England. Mrs Pittard provided the commandos with documents, including local newspapers from Guernsey.

In front of the hotel was a long hut-type building. There was one guard, who was silently killed by Danish commando Anders Lassen, using the commando knife he carried. This annexe comprised a corridor and six 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. Most of the prisoners when captured were dressed for sleeping, one was naked and were not allowed to dress.

While this was being undertaken, one prisoner, the naked man, escaped and ran off shouting, a general struggle started with the other prisoners. The prisoners were shouting and, fearing the arrival of enemy troops, the raiders elected to return to the beach with the remaining prisoners. Three prisoners made a break, one was instantly shot dead with a .38 revolver, another prisoner, wounded, managed to escape. 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 by Ogden-Brown.The sole remaining prisoner, Obergefreiter Hermann Weinreich, was conveyed safely to England and provided useful information.

Germans on the island were alerted, however the Commandos managed to climb down the cliff, then using their small boat, returned to MTB 344 made their escape with no injuries.
Three German soldiers had died, the sentry and two prisoners.


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