The Battle of Graveney Marsh

The Battle of Graveney Marsh

The Battle of Graveney Marsh was the last battle on British mainland soil during World War Two. It took place on 27 September 1940 between the crew of a downed German Junkers Ju-88 bomber and a detachment of soldiers from the 1st Battalion London Irish Rifles in Seasalter.

On 27 September 1940, a Ju-88 was attacked by two spitfires from the RAF Fighter Commans while flying over Whitstable. It crashed in marshland close to Graveney Marsh. Meanwhile, soldiers from 1st Battalion London Irish Rifles were lodging in the Sportsman Inn - the local pub. Following the crash, they rushed over to capture the German crew and ensure nobody pillaged the valuable remains of the plane.

Junkers Ju 88
Junkers Ju 88

However, when they neared the aircraft they found that the four-man crew was still alive, and that they had armed themselves with machine guns from the aircraft, as well as a submachine gun.

Half of the troops returned fire while the other half crawled close to the Ju-88 and fired at the four man crew. After a 20 minute fight, the crew surrendered. One German crew member was shot in the foot, but apart from that they sustained no injuries.

One member of the crew  warned that the plane would explode at any minute because of an explosive charge.  Captain John Cantopher immediately returned to the aircraft and removed an explosive from under the wing - an act of bravery that earned him a George Medal. The Ju-88 was the a valuable aircraft that only been in service for two weeks. The British gained a major advantage in capturing it.

The British soldiers marched the crew to the pub where they drank a pint before being taken to a Prisoner of War camp.

The newspapers made no mention of the short battle, as the government wanted to keep it a secret that they had taken one of their most modern bombers.

See also: Rationing

MLA Citation/Reference

"The Battle of Graveney Marsh". HistoryLearning.com. 2015. Web.