Visit to Sark (3): the launch of “Operation Basalt”

It rained literally ALL day for the official launch here on the island of Sark of Eric Lee’s new book on the 1942 commando raid on the island. It kind of added to the atmosphere, since one could not help thinking, if trudging along narrow paths and through heavy gorse in wet and slippery conditions was tough for us, it must have been much worse for heavily-loaded commandos in pitch blackness in what was then enemy territory.

In the morning, Eric’s group and many locals joined a conducted tour of some two and a half hours which traversed the route followed by the British commandos 74 years ago. The walk was led by Jeremy La Trobe-Bateman whose family authored the book of Sark walking trails used as a guide by the British soldiers that night. Eric explained to us how the commandos scaled the steep cliff to the Hogsback where we looked down on the waves. He then led us to “La Jaspellerie”, where Frances Pittard gave them such valuable information, and on to the Dixcart Hotel, where the commandos killed three Germans and took one back to Britain for intelligence.

In the evening, it was standing room only in a crowded room as Eric signed copies of his book (until he ran out of copies) and then spoke about the experience of writing the work. There were two special guests: Graham Robinson, who spoke about his father ‘Tim’ Robinson who was one of the 12 commandos on the raid, and – through a video recording made Australia – James Edgar, who is the last surviving member of the commando team celebrating his 96th birthday that very day.

It was a very special occasion.

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