October 4, 1942
by David H. Lippman

10 British commandos raid the German-held Channel Island of Sark, led by Maj. Geoffrey Appleyard, in Operation Basalt. The British objective is to gain PoWs for interrogation. Appleyard knows the Channel Islands well from his schoolboy holidays. They land in darkness just after midnight on rocks Appleyard used to use for sunbathing. The Britons move cautiously inland until they see some figures standing before a German army hut. The commandos move in with knives to discover the figures are targets for a rifle range. The Britons keep moving until they find the house 'La Jaspellerie'. The Britons break into the house to find Mrs. Pittard, a widow, in her nightgown.

Mrs. Pittard recovers from the shock well, giving them the whereabouts of German coastal guns, and says that the nearest Germans are at the Dixcart Hotel Annexe.. The Britons take a piece of her loaf of bread -- all she has for a week -- back for analysis.

The commandos move off into the dark and sneak into the annex. There they find five German rifles. The owners are sleeping inside. The Britons seize them, secure them, and bundle them outside. One tries to escape, but is recaptured; the rest make as much noise as possible, fighting back. All but one escape. The other four are shot while fleeing -- and still handcuffed.

Annoyed, Appleyard takes his lone PoW back to England. The PoW turns out to be a thick-glassed engineer who worked on Sark's harbor defenses.

By mid-morning the British commandos are back home, and the German authorities are furious. Feldpolizei swarm all over the Dixcart and Mrs. Pittard's home, searching for commandos. The Germans interrogate Mrs. Pittard and the Dixcart's manager for two weeks, to no avail.

Sark's commandant gets court-martialled for the embarrassment, and all Germans are billeted together.

But the most important repercussion comes from Berlin, when the Germans learn the British had handcuffed their captives. The Germans believe their handcuffed troops were shot down in cold blood while being held captive. The Oberkommando Wehrmacht orders the chaining of 1,376 Canadian PoWs taken at Dieppe. German Lageroffiziers take this order with varying degrees of obedience. Some manacle their charges from taps to reveille. Others simply hand the open cuffs to their Canadian PoWs, and leave the room, and report compliance to Berlin. But some German PoW-keepers indeed handcuff their charges, a violation of the Geneva Convention.

The British retaliate by chaining 1,376 German PoWs in Canada.

The handcuffing of PoWs on Sark becomes fodder for the propaganda war, with the Germans attacking British "gangster methods," while the British claim the German allegations are "based on the flimsiest foundations."

On Sark, the Germans begin planting minefields, annoying the citizens, who can no longer wander freely about the island. "We were getting along all right during the Occupation," says a Sark woman later, "until the Commandos spoilt everything by coming and murdering two German soldiers..."

Hermann Goering makes a speech in which he says that the Allied blockade of Europe will not starve Germany, but will cause famine in Occupied Europe. In other words, if Frenchmen are starving, it's England's fault.

In the Aleutians, the Japanese hurl a massive airstrike against the American base at Adak -- three planes. The attack achieves nothing, as the Americans have learned to disperse their aircraft on the ground. "No damage except to nerves and sleep," writes American pilot Billy Wheeler.

At Guadalcanal, five Japanese destroyers deliver 750 men and 24 tons of supplies to Kamimbo without incident.

Gen. Friedrich Paulus gets the word from Berlin: attack. The Fuhrer wants Stalingrad taken, and to appoint Paulus Chief of the OKW Staff after victory. Paulus is a slow-witted and unimaginative leader, but an excellent staff officer, and he knows when he's on the hotseat. He hurls his worn 6th Army against the Tractor Factory in Stalingrad. The 14th Panzer, 60th Motorized and 389th Infantry Divisions lead the assault against the 37th Guards, huge men from Siberia.. Paulus' men are reinforced by specialist troops, including police battalions and assault engineers from the West, and Luftwaffe engineers. The Soviets dig in amid the factory's armored buildings, and the battle between armies degenerates into vicious tommy-gun and grenade fights for small rooms. Victories are gained in feet.

The Soviet forces are young, tall, and healthy, who enjoy bayonet charges. The huge Siberians often hurl dead Germans over their shoulders like sacks of straw.

A lull continues at El Alamein as the British prepare their counteroffensive. Lt. Gen. Bernard Law Montgomery insists that his 8th Army train meticulously for the coming assault.

In Yankee Stadium, Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals faces off against Hank Borowy of the Yankees in the fourth game of the World Series. The teams trade big innings until the Cards take charge in the seventh. Catcher Walker Cooper's single scores Enos Slaughter, and Marty Marion's long fly scores Stan Musial for the decisive two runs. The Cards go up in the series, 3 games to 1.


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