Armistice Day paddle and Operation Hardtack
L’ Égypte -or Petit Port- is a place of history.
During the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands (1940-1945) the allies had little information about the troops and defences. On 25th December 1943 28 British and French Commandos led by Captain Ayton landed by “small boat” (kayak?) to reconnoitre the island. While on Jersey the plan was to capture Nazi soldiers but none were spotted. Attempts to obtain information from the nearby farm failed because the inhabitants thought the commandos were German soldiers trying to trick them into revealing information. Following the raid the Nazis blew up the farm and the remains of the farm can still be seen.
As the commandos returned to the beach Captain Ayton stepped on a mine and was killed. A friend once met a colleague of Captain Ayton and learned that Ayton was another of those remarkable people who was always willing to step forward for the most dangerous missions. We have much to thank people like this for.
A memorial and bench donated by the British Special Boat Service Association commemorates the landing. Every year a remembrance ceremony is held.
It seemed fitting that we should arrive by kayak today from Rozel and make time to remember these brave people. A south east 6-7 from Rozel to Petit Port with swell on the beach only served to remind us just how difficult and dangerous the raid must have been. To land in darkness in mid winter was a huge risk. Had the commandos been captured the Nazi orders were to treat them as spies and therefore subject to execution.
We sat on the bench in silence to reflect.