This Memorial commemorates the British and French Commando’s who took part in Operation Hardtack 28 on the 25th and 26th of December 1943. The memorial marks the place where the Commando’s came ashore.
The Raid on occupied Jersey
On Christmas Day 1943, during the night of 25 and 26 December, a group of six French and British Commando’s undertook a daring raid, the only raid, on the German occupied Isle of Jersey. The Commando’s had the objective to gather intelligence and capture a German prisoner for interrogation.
With Captain Philip A. Ayton in the lead, who had volunteered for the mission at the last minute, the Commando’s left from Dartmouth by Motor Gun Boat, and embarked in a dory to the landing point, Petit Port, less than a kilometer from the Island. Once ashore, the team made their way up the cliffs, finding a small stone building (now known as “Wolfs Lair”) without any sign of the enemy. They started up a small valley towards the hamlet of Egypt, then moving to the North where they found a German defensive positioned locked and abandoned. From here the Commando’s followed the road South hoping to encounter an enemy patrol, but encountered no one. Finally they managed to contact local farmers and gathered intelligence from them.
With time running short they decided to make their way back to Petit Port. Once there disaster struck. Looking for the dory Captain Ayton crawled under a fence and set off a mine, leaving him mortally wounded on the cliff side. While part of the team recovered him from the cliff side, the rest managed to make contact with the MGB, who send out the dory to retrieve them.
Captain Philip Atterbury Ayton died of his wounds in a hospital in Portland on 26th December 1943 aged 22. He is buried at Dartmouth (Longcross) cemetery, section G, Grave 136.
In December 1943 a series of British Commando raids took place on the Channel Islands and the Northern coast of France with the goal to gather intelligence about the German coastal defenses. The raids consisted of small groups of Commando’s performing landing operations from small boats and dories. The raids were ended by order of Major General Robert Laycock who feared the raids would lead the enemy to reinforce these positions, which would oppose the Allied strategy.
You can visit this memorial if you follow the walking path down the valley through the Egypt Woods starting from the dead end of the Rue de la Chicanne. Apart from the historical meaning it is a beautiful walk.