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Operation Bigamy

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Operation Bigamy

Operation Bigamy aka Operation Snowdrop was a raid during the Second World War by the Special Air Service in September 1942 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel David Stirling and supported by the Long Range Desert Group. The plan was to destroy the harbour and storage facilities at Benghazi and raid the airfield at Benina in Libya in coordination with the RAF. The raid was part of a deception plan for Operation Agreement, the much larger raid on Tobruk.

The plan involved a "gruelling journey around the southern edge of the Great Sand Sea"[1] but ended in failure. The raiding force was discovered at a road block on route by an Italian reconnaissance unit and Stirling decided to withdraw [2] to Kufra. During the withdrawal, the Luftwaffe picked off nearly 70 of the vehicles on the barren terrain. The survivors were reformed as the 1st Special Air Service regiment.[3]

It is known as Operation Snowdrop in all publications which follow uncritically the initial editions of William Boyd Kennedy Shaw's book Long Range Desert Group which used this appellation for the first time as War Office security policy would not permit him to use real operational code names on first publication.

In September 1967 Len Deighton wrote an article in the Sunday Times Magazine about "Operation Snowdrop". The following year David Stirling would be awarded substantial damages in libel from the article. The passage complained of states "Stirling himself had insisted upon talking about the raid at two social gatherings at the British Embassy in Cairo although warned not to do so". Stirling made the point that Winston Churchill had been at both gatherings and the issue was raised in a private discussion with the Prime Minister.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b The Times, Libel Damages For 'Operation Snowdrop' Leader, 24 May 1968
  2. ^ Molinari, pp.70–71
  3. ^ Historical dictionary of Ian Fleming's world of intelligence: fact and fiction. Nigel West. The Scarecrow Press: 2009
  • Molinari, Andrea. Desert raiders;Axis and Allied Special Forces 1940-43.Botley, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2007. ISBN 1-84603-006-4

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