Not a lot happens on the island of Sark, that was until August 1990, when it was the centre of a bizarre invasion and attempted coup. What is more, the manner of the ‘official response’ to this armed incursion was equally extraordinary.
Frenchman Andre Gardes, an unemployed nuclear physicist, having convinced himself that he was the rightful heir and “Seigneur” of Sark, resolved to take action. Accordingly in August 1990 he decided to stage an invasion to forcefully set himself up as the ruler of Sark’s 610 inhabitants. Unable to get anyone to follow him, he concluded that a one man force would suffice anyway – what could possibly go wrong !
He was such an odd chap. He turned up one night and started putting up signs saying he was going to take over the island next day at noon. They read very like German wartime notices. Most people thought it was a joke, but he was serious.
Michael Beaumont (the real?) Seigneur of Sark
Being a civilised chap, Gardes duly arrived the night before the invasion and proceeded to post two notices of his impending takeover which was to occur the following day at the stroke of noon.
The local volunteer Constable, the only law enforcement on the island, being informed of the invasion thanks to these notices, decided to take the threat seriously. On the morning of the invasion, Constable Perrée began to plan the island’s defense, which was a two stage scheme.
It all Kicks Off…
The following day Gardes started a solo foot patrol in front of the Seigneurie in full battle-dress with semi-automatic weapon in hand. At this point the full might of Sark’s defences swung smoothly into action…
Stage 1 : Locate the Enemy
Constable Perrée went looking for the invading force and duly found it sitting on a park bench in army fatigues waiting for noon and preparing for the massacre that was about to befall the island. As the Constable approached the invading army he observed it loading its automatic weapon.
The first “showing up” stage now complete it was time to grapple with the enemy.
Stage 2 : Engage the Enemy
Constable Perrée now executed the second stage of his plan … He complimented Mr. Gardes on his choice of gun! He then went on to convince Mr Gardes to remove the magazine so as to let him admire the instrument of the island’s assured defeat.
When Gardes acquiesced, the Constable took the gun and promptly punched him in the nose whilst wrestling him to the ground. The invading force was then put under arrest and given a 7 day custodial sentence. The invasion was over!
Not to be deterred , the invasion force (aka Mr Gardes) attempted a comeback the following year, but was unfortunately intercepted in Guernsey.
The gun used in the attempted coup now sits in the Sark Museum next to old ships and a dedicated exhibit to one of the island’s two original telephones.
|When Sark was a pawn in international politics|
|Sark Legends – The Pirates of Sark|
|Sark – A Potted History|