Kent Battle of 1940 remembered as the last battle in British soil involving foreign enemy

Graveney-Marsh_1700357cThe battle between the crew of a German bomber and British soldiers is now being marked in history as the last battle in British soil involving foreign enemy. The conflict happened more than 70 years ago when a German bomber crashed on British soil, the Telegraph reports.

The last known battle recorded in the country is in 1746 when the Jacobite uprising led by Charles Edward Stuart, or more popularly known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, was defeated in the last Battle of Culloden.

But, the Battle of Culloden is not actually the last conflict in British soil. Almost 194 years after the Jacobite uprising, the little known Battle of Graveney Marsh took place against foreign enemies. The skirmish occurred between the crew of a crashed German bomber and a company of British soldiers who were in the area. On September 27, 1940, the German Junkers 88 plane crashed on Graveney Marsh in Kent. Meanwhile, a company of soldiers of the London Irish Rifles were staying over at the Sportsman Inn in Seasalter.

The Battle of Culloden

The British soldiers armed themselves and responded to the crisis. They, however, did not expect any armed opposition from the four crew members of the Luftwaffe. They thought wrong. When they were near the crash site, the German soldiers opened fire their machine gun against the British soldiers. The British soldiers returned fire and the clash commenced. The British went on cover and worked their way to get as close as 50 yards from the plane. They planted themselves along a dike and continued shooting.

After the intense exchange, the Germans finally opted to surrender. One of them got shot in the foot but there was no casualty.

The Germans, however, did not plan on surrendering without a last attempt of leaving their plane into the hands of the British soldiers. Luckily, Captain John Cantopher understood German and heard one of the German crew hinting the the plane  should “go up” any time. Cantopher quickly searched for the explosive hidden under one of the wings of the aircraft. He threw the bomb to the dike. The saved plane was then handed over to the British engineers for inspection.

After the capture, the British soldiers and the German prisoners of war shared a pint of beer back in the pub of the inn where they stayed.

London Irish Regt training on Graveney Marsh in 1940: Battle in Kent between German bomber crew and British soldiers marked after 70 years
Soldiers of the London Irish Regiment are now known for the capture of the crew of a crashed German bomber who fought before surrendering.

The 70th Anniversary

On the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, the battle in Graveney Marsh will officially be marked in history. Next month, the London Irish Rifles Regimental Association will spearhead the commemoration in an unveiling ceremony of the commemorative plaque installed in the pub where the soldiers stayed. The pub still stands today. Nigel Wilkinson, the Vice-Chairman of the London Irish Rifles Regimental Association said that the Battle of Graveney Marsh barely gets mentioned in many history books. But, the battle was very significant because the captured plane provided the Air Ministry with very important and valuable intelligence.

“Of course the men of the London Irish Rifles spoke about the battle and for a time it went down in folklore within the regiment,” Wilkinson said. “But it seems to have been forgotten about. We were aware the 70th anniversary was coming up and thought it was about time that something was done to officially recognise and remember it.”Because the men were billeted at the Sportsman, and the pub is still standing today, we thought a plaque that will serve as a permanent reminder was appropriate.”




Siegphyl is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE