While always dangerous and daring, SAS operations are by no means invariably successful and when they go wrong, they do so very badly.
This point is well made in SAS in Tuscany 1943-1945 which describes three such operations in enemy-occupied Italy during the latter half of the Second World War.
SPEEDWELL 2, the first of the three, saw six men drop blind into Northern Tuscany on 8 September 1943, which was by chance the day of the Italian Armistice. But, with no radios or air-to-ground support their courageous three week operation ended in disaster; four members were captured and executed and only one successfully ex-filtrated after an epic journey lasting seven months.
The second and third operations, GALIA (winter 1944/1945) and BLIMEY (April 1945), provided contrasting results. GALIA, involving thirty-four men led by Captain Walker-Brown, tied up many thousands of enemy troops for nearly two months under extreme winter conditions – an extraordinary achievement, thanks in measure to cooperation with an SOE mission led by Major Gordon Lett, the author’s father.
Operation BLIMEY sadly achieved little before being caught up in the Allied advance.
The reasons for the success and failure of these two operations are carefully analysed. Thanks to the Author’s research into these little known operations and his detailed knowledge of the area, SAS in Tuscany 1943 – 45 is a significant addition to the bibliography of SAS operation in the Second World War.
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SAS In Tuscany 1943-45