Shepherd Neame pub commemorates historic battle

Posted: 27 September 2010

Blog category: News, Pubs

More than 100 people gathered at the Sportsman pub in Seasalter to mark the last battle fought on the British mainland.

The gathering of former and current members of the London Irish Rifles was joined by army and air force cadets, wartime hero and Colditz survivor Major General Corran Purdon and the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Pat Todd for a parade and ceremony.

Phil Harris, licensee and chef at the popular Shepherd Neame pub, was on hand to accept the plaque which commemorates what has become known as The Battle of Graveney Marsh.

It was September 27, 1940 when members of the London Irish Rifles fought a short battle with the crew of a downed German bomber close to the pub, where they would eventually take their foe for a pint after capturing them with no loss of life on either side.

The event – which saw one of the British soldiers throw an explosive charge from the plane, meaning it was retrieved intact – was organized by Dickie Bird of the Royal British Legion and the London Irish Rifles Association.

Nigel Wilkinson, the association’s vice-chairman, said: “For a long time I thought to myself that this is really quite an historic event. It was the last action fought on British soil against invaders.”

The commemoration could signal a change in some historians’ view of the last battle fought in Britain, previously credited to the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

The ceremony involved a parade, inspected by Major General Purdon who is the association’s president and was followed by a reception at the Royal British Legion headquarters in Whitstable.

Shepherd Neame’s property and tenanted trade director, George Barnes said: “The Battle of Graveney Marsh was a significant event and we are very pleased that visitors to The Sportsman will gain even more from their experience by knowing its unique place in history.”