Sark is a small island (just over five square kilometers) located near Guernsey in the English Channel, just south of Great Britain and around 35 km west of Cherbourg in France. While technically part of the UK, it was mostly autonomous until recently, with most of the government run by one man – Michael Beaumont – as a sort of feudal property.
It has around 600 inhabitants and two official languages: English and French. There are no cars on the island, no airport, no divorce laws, or income tax; the island was a sort of throwback to the past, with a political system based on ancient Norman feudal law, though this is slowly changing nowadays. But one man, unemployed nuclear physicist Andres Gardes, saw there a perfect opportunity to take over a country.
What makes the incident even more astonishing is the sheer number of tactical errors committed by Gardes. He arrived there and not only announced he was going to invade the island at noon the next day, but even put up flyers advertising it. Finding nobody willing to accompany him, he put on a uniform, took a carbine he had smuggled through customs and some ammunition, and prepared to make good his threats.
In the end it required the entire Sark police force to stop Gardes. However, this isn’t as impressive as it sounds, since the police force consisted of just one constable. On the morning the invasion took place, he found Gardes sitting on a bench, loading ammunition into his carbine in preparation for the takeover at noon. The constable approached Gardes and complimented him on his gun. Gardes started showing off his gun to the constable, who tricked him into removing the weapon’s magazine. He then proceeded to punch Gardes in the face and take away his gun. Thus ended Gardes’s bid for domination over the island-country.
The bizarre and darkly humorous nature of the event led it to gain great popularity on the Internet, and has even been adapted into a short film in 2013, titled The Man who Tried to Steal an Island. The gun used in the invasion attempt is on display in Sark’s museum.