Jersey War Tours

Operation Hardtack 28
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On the 25/26 December 1943 Captain Philip Ayton and French commandos:

Lieutenant Hulot
Roger Ducasse
Eugene Guinebault
Joseph Hourcourigaray
Jean Létang
Robert Roux
Henri Saerens

landed on Jersey for the only allied incursion during the occupation. This was an intelligence gathering mission to take a sample of barbwire and also capture a German soldier.

The team landed at Petit Port (Trinity) and made their way up the path arriving at an unmanned
Army Observation Bunker known as the M5. They continue to a small farm belonging to the Le Breton family. The Le Breton brothers thought this was a trap. However once the raiding party gave proof of their identity, they were invited into the kitchen where they were given information of the German whereabouts. The group took samples of barbed wire and after being shown a nearby resistance nest by the brothers they eventually give up on capturing a German as none can be found. The team start their return to the boat.

During the return Captain Ayton stood on a land mine and was badly injured. Lieutenant Hulot Roger Ducasse took over command and the remaining commands rescued Philip and managed to get him back to the boat, but sadly he died the following day in Dartmouth hospital.

Captain Ayton was born in the Edmonton area in 1921 to Sydney Harry Ayton and Elsie Alice (nee Foster). He had 3 brothers, Sydney, Clive and Peter. He was a Captain (Service No 184637) in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Special Boat Service. He lived in North London, but his parents had moved to Eastbourne. Captain Ayton is buried Grave 136 at Dartmouth (Longcross) Cemetery. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre posthumously.

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A translated account from the French Commandos

At the base of Dartmouth, a speedboat Royal Navy has just returned to port, it is 7 h30. On board raid return commandos. Among them French and English, their leader. Seriously injured, it landed in trouble was immediately supported and emmenené to the hospital. The HOUCOURIGARAY commandos ROUX, LETANG THE Halper and Aspiring HULOT pay their final respects to their leader, Captain AP AYTON. The day before the group left the same basic Dartmouth aboard the MTB 322 toward the goal we had assigned them: the island of Jersey. The Captain Ayton SBS knows the sector. The landing is scheduled in North Esr the island in Petit Port Trinity, a creek to the incursion of a raid team. Morn approach safely mamgré the difficulties of the sector, the landing of commandos is towards 22 h 30 in a moonless night. Robert SAERENS had to stay on board the boat. Originally planned in the raid team that would land on the ground, he urged HULOT to board. HULOT had indeed renounced SAERENS, wearing at the last moment in command of operations by the British officer AYTON. HULOT SAERENS decides to take his side in an acting role in case of failure. Once landed, the group began climbing the flaw that leads to the top of the plateau while GUILCHER remain on the dory. Before the HULOT group minefields, barbed wire networks. Panels "Achtung Minen" betray the reality on the ground, two teams are formed, HULOT emmeène two men with him while AYTON patrol with another French. The goal is to make contact with civilians to get the maximum information on the occupant and the defensive system he set up. The Lieutenant HULOT headed inside to recognize the region. The group falls radidement on a farm, while his two other comrades remain in cover, HULOT decided to go and meet its people. The brave peasants he discovers answer all her questions about the troops of occupation, onjectifs, morale, hours of patrols, paths taken, defensive positions, minefields ... Outside, Dodgers and ready to fire, LETANG, Hourcourigaray ROUX and await the return of their leader. Welcomes the information it has obtained, HULOT found his men in the yard of the farm and poart to meet another patrol. The regrouppement occurs without damage, the mission draws to a close, the commandos prennet the way retour. The dory awaits them in the cove, they still 100 meters to go before starting their descent. Suddenly an explosion is heard, a man comes walking on a mine, Captain AYTON is down severely affected. A flare has been launched by the Germans and now lights up the sky like daylight, the blockhouse, automatic weapons opened fire. While THE Halper and HOOURCOURIGAY protect their rear HULOT began the descent of the cliff with AYTON and ROUX. 2 commandos remained at the summit have now dropped out and joined the rest of the group aboard the dory. Joseph Hourcourigaray remembers the return of the operation. "In return, we will not find (dory) it, had changed places because of either the state of the weather, or the risk of being seen it There was a lighthouse with its rotating beam, or has he been better take cover after mine explosions. No doubt alerted the Germans sent a patrol and entity gusts, dogs yelled. I remember HULOT who told me "we spotted" and we have hidden the body of Captain AYTON. To lookout noius waited, leaving the dying man, was he already dead? We have continued. As I understand there were three explosions of mines or grenades and several short bursts fired by Germans who suspected an unusual presence on their island, but did not know where exactly ... I myself helped load the body of AYTON on the shoulders of an English and also HULOT. With ROUX and LETANG we were escorting the funeral procession. Some difficulties in the rocks and cliffs, 2-3 shots flashlight and we finally found the dory. " At no time the Germans are out of their bunker. The file dory now to MT B. Despite the best efforts of sailors and doctors on board, despite all the courage HULOT and his men, Captain AYTON will die in DARTMOUTH hospital.

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