First we must skip backwards to the Second World War and the Naval Maunsell Forts I mentioned last week. One of these was emplaced at Rough Sands, and became, unsurprisingly, HM Fort Roughs. It was designated UNCLE-1, shortened to U-1. It was used until 1956 by the British government then abandoned.
|HM Fort Roughs today.|
In August 1978 Achenbach arranged a proposition from a consortium of Dutch and German diamond merchants, they requested that Roy Bates and his wife fly to Austria to listen to a proposal. While there they met with five men who set a time for their meeting, but later never showed up.
Meanwhile at Fort Roughs the Bates’ son, Michael, was still in residence. A helicopter showed up and hovered over the fort and several German and Dutch mercenaries clambered down onto the fort armed to the teeth, Michael was quickly seized, bound and locked away. Later on a German lawyer, and citizen of Sealand, Gernot Pütz (yes, that's his real name) boarded the fort. Pütz was Achenbach’s personal lawyer. In effect it was a full blown coup.
After four days Michael was put ashore in the Netherlands where he met his father. Together they started to hatch a way to, in Roy Bates words, "[..]coup-d’étated the coup d’état!"
First they needed a way of getting to the fort. Enter one of the Bates family friends, one John Crewdson.
Crewdson was a pilot of no small skill. He'd flown one of the helicopters in the recent James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service, even appearing briefly on screen. He'd also flown one of the B-17s in the film "The War Lover". He'd also flown one of two stripped out civilian helicopters that responded to the 1953 Dutch floods when the North Sea breached the flood defences, drowning 1300 people. In the subsequent relief operations, he rescued 76 people, transported two tons of emergency supplies and ferried forty four medical staff about.
|Crewdson doing a pass in "The War Lover"|
As Michael landed he stumbled and hit the floor, he was carrying a sawn off shotgun which accidentally discharged. The blast shocked the rebels who immediately surrendered. The coup was over.
|From the left: Michael Bates, Joan Bates, Roy Bates and John Crewdson,|
Achenbach set up the Sealand Government in Exile after his failed coup
Roy Bates died on 9th of October 2012, his wife on 10th March 2016, and John Crewdson died when his helicopter crashed into a sand bank on 26th June 1983.