On the 27th December 2018, the Sark Branch of the Royal British Legion invited the Honorary French Consul in Guernsey to take part in the unveiling of a Commemorative Plaque, in memory of the French and British forces who took part in Operation Hardtack 7 on the night of 27/28th December 1943.
Back of the grave stone in English
The day started with a 2 minute silence at the grave stone of two of the French Commandos who were killed during the raid
Robert Bellamy
Andre Dignac (body repatriated to France after the war)
Front of the grave stone in French
The wreathes were laid by the Seigneur of Sark, Major Christopher Beaumont (our President) and the Honorary French Consul in Guernsey, Madame Odile Blanchette
View of the track looking towards the Hog’s Back from which the Commandos had come.
The next event was the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the anniversary, at the site of the minefield on the Hog’s Back, which killed the 2 Commandos and wounded others.
View of the track the Commandos didn’t manage to take towards the centre of the island
The plaque was unveiled by the Seigneur of Sark, Major Christopher Beaumont (our President) and the Honorary French Consul in Guernsey, Madame Odile Blanchette

About the Raid

A series of Commando Raids were planned under the code name HARDTACK in late 1943 and were numbered from 1 to 36. The operations were conducted by men of No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando, No. 12 Commando and the Special Boat Service (SBS), and took place on the Channel islands and the northern coast of France in December 1943. Most of the raids consisted of ten men of various ranks, carried by Motor Torpedo/Gun Boats (MTB/MGB) and dories, except for one operation, which was an airborne landing. The raids were ended by order of Major General Robert Laycock because they caused the enemy to bring up reinforcements, which could have been detrimental to the Allies' strategy for D-Day. In the Channel Islands raids were planned against Jersey, Sark and Herm. The Herm raid was cancelled in the planning stage, but the raids on Sark and Jersey went ahead and both were planned for the night of 25/26 December with the aims of reconnaissance and capture of prisoners – the Jersey raid landed safely at Petit Port, climbing the cliff, they failed to locate a German soldier. On returning to the beach, a mine was set off seriously injuring a Captain Ayton who was taken to the beach and returned to England where he died of his wounds. Like the Jersey raid the Sark raid used men from No. 1 (French) Troop of 10 Commando, 12 Commando and the SBS.

Sark 25/26 December 1943.

The raid on this night failed to achieve its objectives when the Commandos were unable to scale the cliff having landed by Dorey from MGB (ML) 292 on Derrible Point at about 23.15.

The Raid was commanded by an officer from 12 Commando, 10 men from No1 Troop and 2 men of the SBS, as follows:

  • Lt Ambrose McGonigal * 12 Commando
  • Sergeant Pierre-Charles Boccador * (Translator) 10 Commando
  • Sergeant Paul Briat (Radio Operator) 10 Commando
  • Local Sergeant Andre Dignac * 10 Commando
  • Corporal Robert Bellamy * 10 Commando
  • Corporal Pierre Vinat (Medical Orderly) 10 Commando
  • Lance/Corporal Yves Quentric 10 Commando
  • Private Marius Pizzichini 10 Commando
  • Private Jean Gay 10 Commando
  • Matelot Joseph Nicot * 10 Commando
  • Matelot Maurice Le Floch * 10 Commando
  • Captain David Smee * (Dorey Skipper) SBS
  • Corporal J Right * (Dorey Engineer) SBS

Of the above men not all went ashore, as the Dorey capacity was 8. Men marked with * were in the Dorey the remainder stayed on the MGB.

Dignac (Nicknamed ‘Tarzan’ for his climbing ability) led the climb but was unable to make the final ascent and at 02.15 gave up the attempt. Back on the Dorey, McGonigal and Boccador decide to survey the beach of Derrible Bay and the cliff of the Hog’s Back, they encountered and brought back a mine. They returned to the MGB at 04.10 and headed back to Dartmouth. On arrival they are given permission to try again and planned another raid for the 27/28 December.

Sark 27/28 December 1943

MGB (ML) 322 (took part in the Jersey raid) was their boat for the raid and left Dartmouth at 16.00. This time the Commandos landed from Dixcart Bay onto the Hog’s Back at 22.20 and the same men go ashore again, with Dignac leading the climb and paying out a rope for the others to use.

The rudimentary map they used marked a minefield and they moved forward carefully but suddenly a mine exploded and Bellamy is killed almost instantly, the same explosion also badly wounds Dignac who dies as he is being injected with morphine by Boccador. More mines are set off as they escape from the minefield and Le Flock is wounded in the chest but can walk, as can the wounded Nicot and McGonigal. Boccador is unwounded and is the one that helps all the others to the rope and down the cliff. They are on board the Dorey by 02.30 and on the MGB by 03.00 when they set off for Dartmouth, with Vinat treating the wounded on the journey, on arrival the wounded are immediately taken to hospital.

The minefield consisted of 66 S-mines also known as the "Bouncing Betty" or “Bollock Breaker”; and 100 Concrete Stock mines.

Click on the links below for more information on the mines used

The German report on the raid to Commander Northwest France and made on the 29th December said:

On the 28th between midnight and 2.45 am the raiding patrol against the Isle of Sark started. The base garrison located in the middle of the island reported 5 explosions at 1.10 am. At the crack of dawn 2 soldiers in English uniforms have been found on the minefield above the steep coast near Dixcart Valley, one was recognised as French, one was already dead and the other one moribund. Landing took place at the same spot like in 04/10/1942, supposedly in a small vehicle. Force of command is unknown. Injuries found originate from small mine pieces. According to the traces of blood found on coastal rocks more wounded or dead soldiers are expected. Weapons and armament have been left behind, among them was a radiotelephone.

Dignac and Bellamy were buried in the Sark cemetery on the 30th December. It is said that the Dame of Sark demanded to know the names of the men for the Death Register of the island.
The Germans originally marked the grave with a white cross

No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando

Troops for this Commando were made up from various countries and each Troop in the Commando was formed up of Nationals from each country, as follows:

  • No. 1 Troop (French) No. 2 Troop (Dutch)
  • No. 3 Troop (British)* No. 4 Troop ((Belgian)
  • No. 5 Troop (Norwegian) No. 6 Troop (Polish)
  • No. 7 Troop (Yugoslavian) No. 8 Troop (French)

* This Troop was made up of mainly German (Jewish) Nationals that had come to Britain as refugees from Nazi Germany, but this did not show in their title. Each man was given a British name and documents to support that name. Being German speaking, they were often used behind enemy lines and as interrogators to gain intelligence. The graves of those killed in action were marked with the normal cross, but those were later replaced by the Jewish symbol, the Star of David.

Created By
John Hunt

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