National Archives catalogue number AIR 2/7450 and AIR 2/7760.

 

Abbreviation

A/C

Bn

C in C

CLE

CO

HE

I

Incl

Lancs

ME

Med

Offr

Op

P/W

RE

Reqts

RV

S/M

SS

W/T

Aircraft

Battalion

Commander-in-Chief

Central Landing Establishment

Commanding Officer

High Explosive

Intelligence

Including

Lancashire

Middle East

Mediterranean

Officer

Operation

Prisoner of War

Royal Engineers

Requirements

Rendezvous

Submarine

Special Service

Wireless Telegraphy

 

 

D. of Plans.

        1.  The water supply of the whole area of south-east Italy, APULIA, (le Puglie) from FOGGIA to BARI, BRINDISI and TARANTO, is derived from one aqueduct, the ACQUEDOTTO PUGLIESE.  The whole area is fed from one river, the SELE, which flows into the Tyrrhenian Sea south of SALERNO.  The precise place is the Caposele, twelve to fifteen kilometres south of S. ANGELO de LOMBARDI, latitude 40°49' North, longitude 15°12' east (vide map attached).  If this aqueduct were broken, the 2-3,000,000 inhabitants of Apulia would run short of drinking water in a few days and all the industries which require water for steam or other industrial purposes would come to a full stop.  The area is particularly important at the present time, as it is the jumping off point for reinforcements for ALBANIA.

        2.  We have examined the vulnerability of this aqueduct to air bombing and we have come to the conclusion that it is not a feasible target.  It is, however, a possible objective for destruction by other means.  We have discussed the practicability of demolishing the aqueduct with the Directorate of Combined Operations and they agree on the value of the objective and that the project is practicable.  The operation might, however, be better undertaken by irregular forces.

        3.  The project gives promise of producing very valuable results as a combined operation.  It is requested, therefore, that it may be examined by the Joint Planners or some other authorative body with a view to its being carried out at an early date.

 

(Signed) J.W. BAKER.

D.D.Plans (Op.)

12.12.1940.

 

 

 

MOST SECRET
WATER PROJECT.  SOUTHERN ITALY

 

        The following project has been considered at a Plans Div meeting at A.R. yesterday when it was decided

                (a) That it presents a most important target especially at the present time.

                (b) That it is not a bombable target.

                (c) That it should be referred to D.C.O. with a request for his most urgent attention.

                (d) That the A.R. would be ready to give all assistance required.

        Wing Comd. Bennett visited D.C.O's "I" staff last night to present this project.

 

        The water supply for the whole of the province of APULIA (S.E. Italy) containing the important towns of FOGGIA, BRINDISI, BARI & TARANTO, comes by aqueduct from a reservoir in the mountains about 60' east of Naples.  The local water in this province is heavily tainted with magnesite and is quite unfit for human consumption.  The alternative supplies are:-

                (a) Disused wells not now available & quite inadequate.

                (b) Pumping supply for railways only & quite inadequate.

                (c) Rain water.  Therefore best time for operation is mid-summer.

                (d) Local reservoir reserves.

        As regards (c).  This is a small consideration [composed?] to the necessity for early action for strategic reasons.

        As regards (d).  Reservoirs maximum capacity: 10½ mil.e.ft. = 64 mil gals.  A population of 2,200,000 is supplied by this aqueduct.  Thus reserve = 30 gals per head i.e. say 3 days consumption.

        The inconvenience of a shortage of water in this province would be accentuated by the presence of large troop concentrations (including perhaps Germans).

 

Proposal.

        To destroy an arch of the aqueduct near the source of supply (Basino Idiologico del Sele).  [An engineer (British) who was engaged in the construction of this work (and is now in London) estimates that it could not be repaired in under one month owing to the difficulty of getting the necessary material to this valley in mountainous district.]

 

Method.

        (i) To employ a party of volunteers (6?) from the men trained at Ringway.  These to include at least 2 sappers, & one Italian linguist.  I understand that there will be no difficulty about volunteers but a means of escape must be devised.

        (ii) This party to be flown to Malta in the Whitley which will be used for the operation.  (U.K. - Malta approx 1350')

        (iii) The party to be dropped in this unfrequented valley after a trial flight to locate the objective.  In order to find it this operation must be done on a bright moonlight (Full moon is 14th Dec.)  (The operation to be carried out from Malta - distance 280')

        (iv) A submarine to have a punt ashore at a prearranged spot say 10 days later when there will be no moon.  The nearest convenient place is the mouth of the river Sele in the Gulf of Salerno (west coast, south of Naples).  This is reached from the objective by following the river Sele, a distance of some 40 miles.  The CinC Med. will have to be asked to supply this S/M.

 

Action to be taken.

        (i) Inform Ringway C.O. of the project.  His G1 (Col. Rock) is calling here tomorrow Sat. and will take the necessary steps to obtain volunteers & select suitable ones.

        (ii) Obtain technical information of quantity of explosives required.  Plastic H.E. may have to be flown out to Malta with the party.

        (iii) Obtain co-operation of naval staff (2 approval of C.O.S.?) so that CinC. Med. be informed of intention & reqts. & CinC A.F.R.E. also.

        If the operation is to be carried out this next dark period (this is most desirable because of the present falling of morale of the Italians & rising anti-Fascist feeling) we must act quickly.

 

Note.

        The objective is illustrated in the attached copy of "Annali...... di Padoua", page 589-90.  Two adjacent piers should be destroyed to ensure collapse of one arch.  The small sized piers are about 10' x 18' at the foot (but above the foundation buttress).  It will be necessary to drill into the masonry to place the charge effectively.

 

 

 

Most Secret

 

Air factors are:-

        (a)  Aircraft.

                (i) The only Whitleys equipped for parachuting are the old Whitleys I, II or III at Ringway.

                (ii) They are not at present equipped with W/T or rear gun mountings.  This would have to be done at once as the last two hours of a trip to Malta are in daylight & there is usually a fight.

                (iii) The weight of 1 man + parachute + personal kit (@ 75 lbs) is taken as 250 lbs. or more likely 300 lbs but Rock can give us that exactly.

        (b)  Parachuting at night

                Major Rock will give an opinion.  It should be possible on a moonlight night but on rough ground, at least one casualty should be expected.  This man will be an [?] on the rest during the escape.

        (c) Malta.

                (i) D.W.O. is much against having yet another type - i.e. the Whitley - at Malta.  There are no maintenance spares or personnel there, so that they will either have to be sent out separately or travel as part of the crew.  This must be worked out at once, as the aircraft will certainly need servicing before taking off on its operational flight.

                (ii) It may not be possible to fly the aircraft back to U.K. with a full load of petrol as a Wellington cannot get off Malta to fly home.  However the Whitley could go on to Egypt & remain there.

 

Following data given be D.D.W.O. (A.M.)

        Whitleys.

                At most economical cruising speed (120 m/hr) - not standard figures which are calculated at normal cruising speed (125 m/hr) - maximum range under very favourable weather conditions is 1230 miles carrying a payload of 1500 lbs.  (This would allow carrying of * parachutists.)  [* 6 if you reduce their weight to 250 lbs, or 5 if you put it at the more likely figure of 300].  The above endurance figure allows a 20% margin + a reserve of 90 gallons.

                It is therefore apparently impossible to fly to Malta (1350') with all the parachutists aboard one Whitley.

                For the operational trip (600 miles) the carrying capacity (bomb load) is 4,200 lbs.

                Air Cdr Coryton thinks that with selected weather conditions i.e. a following wind which is quite common just now, it should be just possible to reach Malta with 1500 lbs up.  But before any aircraft is allowed to do the trip a 3 or 4 hours endurance test is carried out to ensure that the consumption is such as will allow the aircraft to get [there?].  The trouble is that the range is calculated at solid altitude i.e. 15000 or so & does not work out for lower levels if the aircraft descends to avoid icing conditions.

                However given a fair wind it should be a possible operation if it is important enough to take the risk of non arrival.

 

 

 

Most Secret   8A

Notes concerning D.C.O's investigations.

 

R.E. opinion on demolition will be received 13th (Friday).  Interim report:

        3 piers should be destroyed.  As there is a road over aqueduct material could easily be brought to repair a single gap.  If 3 gaps the centre one could not be tackled until the outer ones had been repaired.  [I had emphasised that the time for repair was a most important factor.]

        Weight of explosives reqd. - approx 200 lbs * per pier.

        Party - 5 or 6 men led by an officer.

        Time - Probably nearly 12 hrs * per pier!!  (Equipment would be reqd. to operate on the reqd. number of piers simultaneously).

        Note that road over aqueduct will prevent work being done undetected in daylight (or even by night if the boring drills are noisy).

        * To be advised - greater weight - shorter time.

 

From appearance of country it is evident that that party could not be dropped at night on the spot especially at night.  A more open bit of country in vicinity must be selected by air reconnaissance.  The explosives etc will have to be dropped separately in containers.  Night landing will entail considerable more training but a very bright moon should reduce this difficulty.

 

 

 

Most Secret   8B

Some particulars re Water project

 

Bradano bridge.

        Position - 40°51'50" N.  15°36'10" E.  ½' south of point at which Bradano flows into R. Atella.

        Heights - Objective - 1200'

Dist. from Objective

1¼ miles N

5' miles N.N.E.

1¾ miles N.E.

10' miles East

1¼ miles S.E.

5½ miles S.E.

8 miles S.E.

5 miles South

½ mile S.W.

5 miles S.W.

1½ miles West

7 miles W.S.W.

9½ miles N.W.

(see attached diagram)

Near heights

1800'

-

1800'

-

1800'

-

-

-

1500'

-

2000'

-

-

Adjacent peaks

-

4000'

-

2700'

-

2400'

3700'

4,300'

-

4,000'

-

3,800'

2,700'

        Length 185 yards.  14 archers.  Brick.  Narrow gorge.  Steep, tree-covered sides.  Narrow river but probably running in spate at this time of year.  Road communication with village of Atella (dist: 3') - road (with light lorry on it) can be seen on the bridge in photograph.

        Distance from Malta (direct) - approx: 280 miles.

        Distance from nearest coast (by road) - nearly 60 miles (Gulf of Salerno).

 

 

 

 

MOST SECRET

 

Ministry of Economic Warfare,

Berkeley Square House,

Berkeley Square, W.1.

27th December 1940.

 

My dear Dickson,

        You will remember the papers you handed to me at the meeting the other day.  The minute which my people have written on this runs as follows:-

                "1.  With regard to the project suggested in the attached documents, this Section is not yet in a position to provide either a suitable demolition squad duly equipped or, if such could be found at relatively short notice, to land the party at a convenient place in Italy or on the Italian coast.

                2.  Plans are at present being devised and the means towards their execution being developed, which, if successful, will make it possible in due course to undertake this and similar projects in Italy.

                3.  No definite promises can be made, however, until the means of transport - requiring the co-operation or consent of other departments, have definitely been assured - which is not yet the case."

        I am sorry that we cannot, for the present, be more helpful and still more sorry that, owing to a regrettable misunderstanding, the file was not immediately returned to me to be handed back to you, but was sent direct by our Liaison Officer with the Air Ministry to that Department, where it is now in the hands of Bennett.

 

Yours ever,

[Signed Philip ?]

 

Group-Captain Dickson,

C.W.R.

 

 

 

MOST SECRET
APULIAN AQUEDUCT

 

        1.  See Memorandum (attached) submitted to D. of Plans by D.D. Plans (Op.) dated 12.12.40.

        2.  After a lapse of nearly three weeks it transpires that the suggested operation cannot be carried out by irregular forces (S.O.2).

        3.  It is now felt that the only remaining form of operation open for discussion is by sabotage carried out by trained volunteer sapper parachutists.

        4.  It cannot be stressed too strongly that a successful surprise attack on this aqueduct at or near the source, resulting in a complete cessation of fresh drinking water to the whole of the province of Apulia, may effect an immediate change of plans by the Italian High Command of great strategical importance.

        5.  Particularly bearing in mind that the area served includes the highly important ports of BARI, BRINDISI and TARANTO which are not only full of military, naval and air forces but all important to the conduct of the Italian - British and Italian - Greek campaigns in Libya and Albania.

        6.  It is possible that Mussolini and the Italian High Command may at the present time be dubious of the advisability of continuing an unsuccessful campaign on two fronts and the complete stoppage of drinking water to their main ports of shipment may be the deciding factor and cause immediate plans for withdrawal on one or two fronts.

        7.  On the other hand the much-talked-of German air and military reinforcements may arrive at any moment and by their presence stiffen the Italian morale and prove a serious stumbling block to our operations.

        8.  Time therefore is an all important factor, but as it is necessary to carry out the proposed operation on a good moonlight night it is urged that the project be agreed and a detailed plan prepared within the next 2 days.

        9.  If this is not possible despite every effort having been made it should still be considered and planned for the next moon in February.

        10.  In view of the far reaching results that may be expected from this operation it is urged that the strongest available force be detailed so that they may be able to overwhelm any opposition encountered guarding the aqueduct and at the same time provide a protective force to hold up reinforcements that may be rushed up from a nearby post during the night, along the one and only road.

        11.  It is also to be expected that a proportion of the force may sustain some injury on landing or find difficulty in making contact with the main body during the hours of darkness.

        12.  In conclusion it should be pointed out that, although the chances of the majority of the proposed force of reaching the coast and getting picked up by reserve craft in the neighbourhood of Salerno are slight, it is a "volunteer job" and as such entails the possible consequence of this type of operation.

        13.  The fact remains that whatever the sacrifice in men and aircraft a successful conclusion may be the saving of thousands of lives and millions of money in the Middle East and Albania and the bringing of one or both campaigns to an early if not abrupt end.

 

PLAN FACTORS.

 

[Note: handwritten notes and answers to the following questions are written in italics.]

 

        1.  Is the attack to be made on T  yes, B or main dam etc? B and main dam crossed out

        2.  Point for sabotage by explosion.  Columns of aqueduct.  Tunnel etc? Tunnel crossed out

        3.  It is agreed that the operation calls for at least 5-6 Whitley or similar A/C and 25-30 sappers to insure the success of the operation? 5 or minimum of 4

        4.  Provided above points are agreed what is the position with regard to the men -

                (a) Number available i.e. sappers.  36 men (18 RE incl 2 offrs.

                (b) Are sappers trained in handling explosives of type suggested?  [ticked]

                (c) Are sappers trained in parachute stick jumps?  [ticked]

                (d) How many for a/c?

                (e) Speed of stick jumping and area of landing?

                (f) Is there any question of obtaining them and intelligent men in view of the type and possibilities of the operation?

                (g) Very important to include 2 officers and that the 2 officers and/or 2 men speak Italian or German.

                (h) What is weight of a man + kit + tommy guns etc?

        5.  Advisability of reconnaissance of area one or two nights before to ensure exact position of aqueduct and lie of the land?  Necessity of change of plan by O.C. operation if found imperative as a result of reconnaissance?

        Payload is 1500 lbs i.e. 5 men @ 300 lbs or 6 men @ 250.  5 aircraft @ 6 men = 30.  6 aircraft @ 5 men = 30.

        6.  Advisability of arranging operation to synchronise with the bombing of Naples by Wellingtons on both nights to allay suspicion and maintain surprise?  yes

        7.  Rescue arrangements.  Submarine, Sunderland or Destroyer?  +7, 14 days

        8.  Date of operation.  Jan. or Feb?  12/2 - 19/2

             Date of departure from England?  Earliest 4/2 - latest 10/2.  1 month to prepare a/c.  Must start now decision by ?

        9.  Fullest information to be passed to C.-in-C. Med. including rescue requirements?

        10.  Fullest information G.O.C. and A.O.C. Malta advising -

                (a) No. of A/C to be expected and date of arrival (expected)?

                (b) No. of bodies?

                (c) Requirements explosives, primers, detonators etc?

                (d) Expected date of operations?

                (e) Wellington requirements for 2 days?

                (f) Expected date of return to England?

        11.  Availability of aircraft - ? use training Whitleys?  Have they the range?  Can Service Whitleys be modified?

        12.  Servicing facilities at M.  What are needed - can aircraft crews do the job?

 

INFORMATION.

 

Aircraft

        Malta runway 1440 on 14th Jan. 41. (A/Cdre. Coryton).

        Whitley can take off with full petrol load 1000 yards (official)

        Whitley can take off with full petrol load 1200 yards (W/C Sylvester).

Approx. distances.

        Mildenhall to Malta 1380 miles.  Hawkinge?

        Whitley range at 120-130 (economical cruising speed)?

Time (approx.)

        Mildenhall to Malta 11 hrs at 125 1.A.S. approx.

Possible route for operation, distance and time.

        Malta to aqueduct round Sicily   450 approx

        Aqueduct to Malta direct           350 approx.

                                                         800

        Time 800 at 125 1.A.S.             7 hrs. approx.

If flown direct both ways

        700 miles at 125 1.A.S.             6 hrs. approx.

 

 

 

MOST SECRET
PROJECT "T"

 

Director of Plans, Air Ministry.

        1.  The following are alternative plans for carrying out Project T on the assumptions -

                (a) that the full number of "Whitleys" will not be available;

                (b) that no Whitleys will be available.

                        These are to make up the deficiencies in case (a) by using as many "Bombays" as are available, and in case (b) by using Sunderlands instead of Whitleys.  It is understood that all Bombays in U.K. are to be sent out to Middle East in any event as soon as they become available.

        2.  "BOMBAYS".  Serviceability Position

                2 are about to become available.

                2 will be ready in about 1 week.

                1 can be taken from 271 Squadron, but it will require to be fitted with long range tanks.

                        This gives a total of 5.  The remainder lack engines.

        3.  Range and Load.  For 1800 miles a Bombay can carry 1000 lbs or 4 parachutists @ 250 lbs.

        4.  For the operational trip of 800 miles a Bombay can carry 4000 lbs but for reasons of C.G. it is advisable to carry more than 6 parachutists as they all go out through the door aft.

        5.  5 Bombays can therefore carry 20 parachutists to MALTA and 30 parachutists on the operation, if all remain serviceable.

        6.  It will therefore be necessary to devise another means of carrying out the remaining personnel which consists of 16 parachutists, 6 maintenance personnel (if Whitleys are used) and 2 parachute packers.  If Whitleys are not used, maintenance personnel will not be required as personnel at MALTA can service Bombays for short periods.

        7.  There appear to be 2 alternatives.

                (a) To eke out the deficiency in Bombays, using 2 Whitleys @ 5 men each = 10 men.  2 Sunderlands @ 7 men each + gear and equipment = 14 men.  To this should be added at least 2 Whitleys as reserves.

                (b) To dispense with Whitleys and use Sunderlands both for the journey out and for the operation.  Sunderlands have, as far as is known, never been used for parachuting, but there seems to be no reason why they should not, as they have a good door aft.  Trials would, of course, be necessary and time may not allow these and the necessary modification to be done to the Sunderlands.  The following would be required to carry the 16 parachutists and 2 parachute packets:-

                        2 Sunderlands @ 9 men + some gear = 18 men.

                        2 Sunderlands carrying remaining gear and to act as reserve aircraft.

        8.  Requirements are therefore as follows:-

                Scheme (a) 5 Bombays @ 6 each = 30

                                  4 Whitleys 2 @ 7        = 14

                                  2 Sunderlands                44

                Scheme (b) 5 Bombays

                                  4 Sunderlands

                                  Crews will be needed in all the above.

        9.  It is suggested that if Scheme (a) is approved, the 2 first Bombays to become ready be sent to C.L.E. together with 2 Whitleys and crews for practice, at the earliest moment.  If Scheme (b) is approved, 2 Bombays should be sent to C.L.E. and C.L.E. instructed to investigate the possibilities of parachuting from Sunderlands and of obtaining the necessary practice and carrying out the modifications in the time available.  The fact that the Sunderland will not be able to operate from an aerodrome either here or at MALTA will, of course, make the operation more complicated and will make dress-rehearsals difficult.

 

[Signed]

for D.C.O.

6.1.41.

 

 

 

SECRET

 

M.O.5.

        The attached tables give the following information:-

                (A) Percentage frequency with which the base of low cloud was below specified heights over Messina, Rome and Taranto.

                (B) Percentage frequency with which visibility was less than specified distances at Naples.

                (C) Percentage frequency with which surface winds were reported from different directions at Naples.

        No figures for cloud height are readily available for Naples but it may be expected that the average of the frequencies at Rome and Messina will be approximately equivalent to that at Naples.  Certain statistics are available which give the frequency of overcast skies in winter and spring at Naples.  These show that about 9 mornings and 12 evenings in a winter month the sky was overcast with low cloud and in the average spring month the corresponding figures are 8 mornings and 9 evenings.  In winter these occurred most often with northeasterly winds but in spring most often with south and southwesterly winds.

        The southerly winds which occur in front of depressions during the months February and March give rise to very cloudy conditions and rain along the western coast of Italy.  With winds from a northerly direction the weather is usually dry but not when the general current is from north west or west.

        There is probably little difference in cloud at Naples between the morning observations quoted here and the conditions during the night except that on quiet days some low stratus may form during the latter part of the night.

 

(Sgd.) C.S. DURST.

M.O.10 (Invest).

11/1/41.

 

A.  Percentage Frequency of cloud bases below specified heights.  (e.g. In the early morning at Messina 16% of days in February have cloud base below 2000 ft. and 77% of days have cloud at or below 5000 ft. therefore on 23% of days cloud base is above 5000 ft.)

        FEBRUARY - Height of Base of Cloud (feet).

0700 G.M.T.

Messina

Rome

Taranto

1300 G.M.T.

Messina

Rome

Taranto

150

0

0

1

 

0

0

0

300

0

0

1

 

0

0

0

600

1

0

1

 

0

0

0

1000

2

1

5

 

1

0

2

2000

16

6

14

 

12

4

9

3000

61

33

35

 

56

32

30

5000

77

68

70

 

86

73

82

6500

83

73

75

 

89

75

93

8000

83

73

76

 

89

75

93

No low cloud

17

27

24

 

11

25

7

        MARCH

0700 G.M.T.

Messina

Rome

Taranto

1300 G.M.T.

Messina

Rome

Taranto

150

0

1

0

 

0

0

0

300

1

1

0

 

0

1

0

600

1

1

0

 

0

1

0

1000

3

4

1

 

0

2

3

2000

14

11

4

 

8

5

9

3000

52

29

20

 

46

21

31

5000

81

64

52

 

93

79

74

6500

82

71

56

 

93

84

75

8000

82

72

57

 

93

84

75

No low cloud

18

28

43

 

7

16

25

 

B.  Percentage Frequency of visibility less than certain distances at Naples.

        FEBRUARY

 

 

0700 G.M.T.

1300 G.M.T.

55

yds.

2

0

200

yds.

2

0

550

yds.

2

0

1100

yds.

4

0

2200

yds.

10

1

miles.

35

15

miles.

76

55

12½

miles.

98

94

        MARCH

 

 

0700 G.M.T.

1300 G.M.T.

55

yds.

0.5

0

200

yds.

0.5

0

550

yds.

0.5

0

1100

yds.

2

0

2200

yds.

6

3

miles.

33

15

miles.

89

59

12½

miles.

99

91

 

C.  Percentage Frequency of various wind directions at Naples.

 

February

March

N.

16

12

NE

18

11

E.

17

14

SE

5

7

S.

10

8

SW

17

19

W.

12

20

NW.

7

9

        The site is protected from northwest winds and hence the frequency from that direction is probably low for this reason.  It must be appreciated that the frequencies above are for surface winds.  Over the open sea off Naples the most common winds are between Southwest and Northeast (through Northwest) in February and Westerly or Northwesterly in March.

 

 

 

MOST SECRET   26A

 

Headquarters,

Central Landing Establishment,

Royal Air Force,

RINGWAY.

 

15th January 1941.

 

Sir,

        I have the honour to refer to D.W.O. Operation 'COLOSSUS' C.S. 7951 dated 12.1.41 and to state that while it is appreciated that the decision to use two types of aircraft was taken with the knowledge of high level policy certain considerations have arisen in conference which I feel should be submitted for further investigation.

        2.  There are numerous obvious complications in the maintenance and employment of different types of aircraft on any operation of this kind but it is the carefully considered and unanimous opinion of a meeting at which the attack commanders - air and army - were present for the first time that for this particular action such a policy would greatly increase the hazards of an already difficult operation.

        3.  In brief it is considered that the employment of 6 plus 2 Whitley aircraft would greatly improve the chances of the operation achieving the desired result.

        4.  So that the various considerations which have influenced this opinion may be placed before you Wing Commander J.B. Tait, DFC, - the attack commander air - is delivering this letter personally and it requested that he and Squadron Leader Morley may be permitted an opportunity for stating the views of the conference in the appropriate quarter.

 

I have the honour to be,

Sir,

Your obedient servant,

[Signed L.G. Harvey]

Group Captain, Commanding,

Central Landing Establishment,

Royal Air Force, RINGWAY.

 

The Under Secretary of State,

Air Ministry, (D.W.O.)

King Charles Street,

LONDON.

 

 

 

MOST SECRET   30A

Operation COLOSSUS

 

D. of Plans.

        1.  Should it be impossible to carry out Operation COLOSSUS from Malta it is suggested that it be carried out from ATHENS.  This was discussed at a meeting on 21st January at which the Air Commander (Wing/Cdr Tait), the Director Met. Officer and representatives of D.O.O's, Signals and Intelligence and D.M.C's Departments were present.

        2.  The distance to Athens via Salzburg and Trieste from Newmarket is 1,520 miles and the distance via the Rhone Valley and thence direct across Italy is 1,640 miles from Thorney Island.  This was considered to be within range of a Whitley V, given a following wind.

        3.  The alternative is to go via Malta, but refuelling at Malta would take 6-7 hours.

        4.  The return journey may be delayed as favourable wind conditions seldom occur in that direction.  It might be possible to return via Salonika and Manston, a distance of 1,290 miles, but this entails flying over the Alps and weather conditions are usually adverse until the end of March.

        5.  Signal facilities at Athens are at present limited to one M/F H/F station, but signals are arranging for a H/F D/F station to be sent from Middle East.  This will enable aircraft to carry out night operations from Athens.

        6.  Maintenance facilities exist at Athens on a smaller scale than at Malta but they should be adequate together with the maintenance party accompanying the force.

        7.  The stores and personnel to be dumped at Malta by Sunderland from U.K. due to leave on 27 would have to be transferred by a Sunderland from M.E.

        8.  The distance to the target is some 500 miles and thus within operational range.

        9.  War Office have been asked to supply the necessary explosives and stores at Athens and arrangements can be made with C. in C. Mediterranean regarding the submarine R/V.

        10.  Should it be decided to switch the plan from Malta to Athens, A.O.C. in C. M.E. would have to be asked to notify A.O.C. Athens of the arrival of the aircraft.  This possibility should be mentioned in the covering letter which will accompany the Operation Instructions.

 

[Signed N. Moreton W/Cdr]

for D.O.O.

21.1.41.

 

 

 

MOST SECRET AND PERSONAL

Operation Colossus.

 

25th January, 1941.

[?]951/D.O.O.

 

Sir,

        1.  I am directed to enclose Operation Instructions for the above operation.  The preliminary air action referred to in paragraph 12 is as follows:- Bombing and leaflet raids on the following objective:-

                Map Ref: Europe (Air) 1,250,000 Sheet K.33/11 (Italy).

                (a) Railway Junction 4 miles S.E. of BUCCINO (40°35'N 15°23'E.)

                (b) Railway Junction at ROCHETTA SCALO (41°05'N 15°33'E.)

                (c) Railway Junction at AVELLINO (40°35'N 14°49'E.)

        2.  These attacks should be carried out for 3 or 4 nights between 4th and 9th February or until the operation starts in order to accustom the local stations to the sound of aircraft, but not in such force as to interfere seriously with the primary operations in which you are at present engaged.

        3.  A copy of this letter has been sent to the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Middle East, who has been requested to instruct you to carry out the tasks detailed in this letter.

        4.  The bearer of this letter, Lieut. A.J. Deane-Drummond, Royal Corps of Signals, will give you such additional information as you may require.  A copy of his instructions is enclosed.

        5.  It is requested that the necessary billetting and rationing facilities may be provided for the R.A.F. personnel and that maintenance to the extent of available facilities be provided for the aircraft.

        6.  Should enemy action make it advisable to move the Whitleys from Malta before the operation takes place you are at liberty to send them back to U.K., or if this is impossible, to Egypt.

 

I am, Sir,

Your obedient Servant,

 

A.T. Harris

Air Vice-Marshal,

Deputy Chief of the Air Staff.

 

to The Officer Commanding,

Royal Air Force, Mediterranean,

Valletta, MALTA.

 

 

 

MOST SECRET   62A

 

D.C.O.

Plans 3.

 

I circulate, for your information, the following extract from the 52nd Meeting of the Chiefs of Staff Committee on the 13th February, 1941:-

 

"1.  OPERATION COLOSSUS.  (Previous Reference C.O.S. (41) 43rd Meeting, Minute 6).

        SIR DUDLEY POUND said that the enemy would now probably be aware of the rendezvous for the submarine as the message sent out by the aircraft had unfortunately been in a simple code which the enemy would almost certainly be able to decode.  He therefore considered it wrong to risk the probable loss of a valuable submarine and its crew against the possibility of bringing off a few survivors.

        SIR CHARLES PORTAL said that latest air reconnaissance reports appeared to show that the objective had suffered no damage.  As the Operation had miscarried it was probable that most, if not all, of the personnel had been killed or rounded up.

        After some discussion it was agreed that it would be wrong to risk a submarine and its crew in these circumstances.

 

THE COMMITTEE -

        Agreed with the Admiralty proposal to cancel the despatch of the submarine and instructed the Secretary to inform the Prime Minister of this decision."

 

[Signed]

S.6.

14/2/41.

 

 

 

The Times - Newspaper Cutting, 15th February 1941.

PARACHUTISTS IN ITALY

REPORTED BRITISH ACTION

 

ROME ON "CAPTURE"

        In yesterday's Italian communiqué it was stated that enemy parachute troops landed in Southern Italy on Monday night.  The statement was as follows:- "During the night of February 10 enemy parachute detachments, armed with machine-guns, hand-grenades, and explosives, landed in the Lucania district of Calabria with the object of cutting off roads and water supplies.  Thanks to the prompt intervention of the Italian forces, all the parachutists were taken prisoner before they could carry out their tasks.  During a short fight one Italian soldier and one civilian were killed."

 

FARM OCCUPIED

        The official Stefani Agency (quoted by Reuter) gave the following expanded version of the Italian communiqué last night:- During the night of February 10-11 parachutists landed in the Lucania district of Calabria between 10.30 p.m. and 2 a.m.  The parachutists, who carried automatic arms and explosives, certainly intended to damage the regional water supply system, a magnificent achievement of the Fascist regime which made possible an agricultural revival throughout the district, together with railway lines, bridges and roads.

        Having landed in a clearing surrounded by forests, the parachutists occupied some farms and immobilised the peasants.  One parachutist, who had a broken leg, was left in one of these farms, where he was later arrested by guards.  The British parachutists deceived the peasant farmers by shouting "Duce," so inducing them to open their doors to them.

        After abandoning their injured companion, the British made their way to the springs which feed the irrigation system, guiding themselves by means of maps with which they were provided.  But the alarm had been given in the region, and guards, cooperating with the military police and military organizations of the Fascist party, drew a cordon round the area.  A search was instituted, making the position of the parachutists very precarious.

        Speedily surrounded, they were unable to execute their plans and had to hide in the woods to avoid capture.  To make capture more difficult, they divided up into several groups, hoping that some at least would be able to break through the cordon and carry out a part of their plans.

 

FIGHT WITH ITALIANS

        Their plan failed; for while 11 parachutists were seized in one place, seven others were arrested at the same time a mile or two away.  The latter attempted to put up a resistance, turning a tommy-gun on the patrol, consisting of one guard, one police constable, and a shepherd who was guiding them over the mountain paths.

        Shots from the British officer's gun put the policeman and the shepherd out of action.  The guard, left alone, defended himself with his rifle, forcing the parachutists to remain behind a rock until other guards, hearing the shots, came up.  Seeing that all resistance was useless, the parachutists surrendered.

        Another group, which had taken to the scrubland, remained to be found.  The search went on, and the rest of the parachutists, including a captain, were seized without trouble.  All of them were clothed in khaki overalls and had Air Force caps.  They were armed with Tommy-guns and automatic pistols and were provided with Italian money.  They have been handed over to the regional defence command.

 

MOST SECRET
PARACHUTISTS IN ITALY

 

Rome broadcast in Italian, following todays Italian communiqué at 12.00 now quotes the following names of the two Italian casualties, to which reference was made in yesterday's communiqué:

 

Giuseppe Michele

Somma Rocco.

 

(The broadcast states that these men were registered with the Fascist Group at Castel Nuovo di Conza, which is marked in red on attached maps.  The approximate coordinates are: 40°48' N, 15°20' E.

 

[Signed]

Wing Commander

15.2.1941.

 

SECRET

 

        With reference to Italian War Communiques, 14.2.41 (parachutists in Italy).

        In Italian version broadcast at 12.00, phrase used was: 'nella regione Calabria-Lucania'.  Literal translation = 'in the Calabria-Lucania region'.

        In Rome's English broadcast at 12.15, version used was: "on the borders of Calabria and Lucania".

        This is either a mis-translation, or deliberate confusion.

        The Italian phrase quoted above has been checked from B.B.C.'s record of the Italian transmission.

 

[Signed]

Wing Commander.

15.2.41.

 

 

 

MOST SECRET

 

        We are now in a position to communicate in code with certain of these P/W in Italian hands.

        Will you please let us know if there are any specific questions you would like asked.  They should, of course, be as brief as possible.

        You will appreciate that it will take some time before answers can be received at this end.

 

(Sgd.) for Lieut.Colonel, G.S.

M.I.9.

26.2.41.

 

        P.S.  We enclose a copy of Berne telegram dated 25th February 1941, giving names of P/W; the names in brackets are our corrections taken from a nominal roll of the A. S.S. Bn.

        N.B.  This list leaves Capt. Daly R.E., 5 Sappers unaccounted for.  They may well represent the Whitley load which arrived 40 minutes late as Capt Daly was in that aircraft.

 

Telegram from BERNE, No.71 desp.1942.

To: TROOPERS, LONDON.

"FOLLOWING FOR M.I.9.  00554 PAPAL NUNCIO HAS TRANSMITTED THE FOLLOWING LIST FROM VATICAN OF PARACHUTISTS CAPTURED 12 FEB.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3952374

2093963

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1888304

 

 

4447110

Major

Capt.

Capt.

Lieut.

2/Lt.

2/Lt.

Sergt.

Sergt.

Sergt.

Sergt.

Sergt.

Cpl.

Cpl.

Cpl.

Cpl.

Cpl.

L/Cpl.

L/Cpl.

L/Cpl.

L/Cpl.

L/Cpl.

Pte.

Pte.

Pte.

Pte.

Pte.

Pte.

Spr.

Spr.

PRITCHARD (Major T.A.G. PRITCHARD)

LUCKY (F/Lt. R.H. LUCKIE)

LEA (Capt. C.G. LEA)

DRUMMOND (Lt. A.G. DEANE-DRUMMOND)

PATERSON (2/Lt. G.R. PATTERSON)

JOWETT (2/Lt. A.G. JOWETT)

SHUTT (4853823 Sergt. G. SHUTT)

DURIE (1881068 Sergt. E.W. DURR)

CLEMENTS (2564415 Sergt. P.P. CLEMENTS)

LAWLEY (Sergt. A.W. LAWLEY)

WALKER (Sergt. J.E. WALKER)

GRICE (5047781 Cpl. T.E. GRICE)

JULIAN (2093150 Cpl. P.D. JULIAN)

PETER O'BRIEN (2035875 Cpl. P. O'BRIEN)

MAHER (1888254 L/Cpl. J.E. MAHER)

FLETCHER

HENDERSON (2656847 L/Cpl. D. HENDERSON)

DOUGLAS JONES (2067792 L/Cpl. D.E. JONES)

BOULTER (5047114 L/Cpl. H. BOULTER)

PAXTON (5052531 L/Cpl. H. PEXTON)

WATSON (R.B. WATSON)

HUMPHREY (3853219 Pte. H. HUMPHRIES) *

SAMUEL (3384274 Pte. A. SAMUEL)

PARKER (Pte. J. PARKER)

PHILLIPS (1881632 Spr. O.J. PHILLIPS)

TRISTAN (TRISTRAM NASTRI ?)

DUPONT (3846154 Pte. P. DUPONT)

ROSS (A. ROSS)

STRUTHERS (2093371 Spr. D.L. STRUTHERS)

ONE SOLDIER IN HOSPITAL SLIGHT ARM WOUND NAME UNKNOWN MEMORANDUM BY AIR MAIL" (Signed) BRITMILAT

Received 26.2.41.

 

* This is probably 3384187 L/C Humphrey, as Pte Humphries did not go on the show.

 

 

 

No. P.63.

27th February, 1941.

 

Dear Mrs Laughton,

        You will have received a telegram from Air Ministry saying that your brother, Acting Flight Lieutenant R.H. Lucky is missing.  I am afraid I cannot give you much additional information except to tell you in confidence that he was one of the stout hearted fellows who took part in the recent parachute raid in Southern Italy.  We have just received definite information that he is a prisoner of war.

        I met your brother on two or three occasions before he left and was much impressed with his keenness and bearing.

        I would ask you to regard the circumstances of his capture as confidential and that you will not communicate with the Press on this subject in any way.

 

Yours sincerely,

[Signed]

Group Captain R.A.F.

 

Mrs. N.B. Laughton,

24 Park Way,

Western Favell,

Northampton.

 

 

 

MOST SECRET AND PERSONAL

 

D.C.O.'s Office,

War Cabinet Office Annexe,

Richmond Terrace,

S.W.1.

 

D.C.O. No. P.63.

 

27th February 1941.

 

Major Thomson, M.O.9. War Office.

        The attached copy of a communication from M.I.9 has just been received.  You will note that they have interpreted that Private Humphrey as being 3853219 Pte. H. Humphries but according to our information from No.11 S.S. Battalion, Private Humphries did not go on the show but 3384817 L/Cpl. Humphrey, E.C., 1st Bn. East Lancs did.  You will presumably notify your Casualty Section and No.11 S.S. Battalion.

        It is interesting to note that six was unaccounted for all of whom are sappers and include Captain Daly, so that it looks as if this was his barrowload as we know that he and his party were dropped some three-quarters of an hour after the rest.

        I will take some action to notify the Air Ministry Casualty Section about Lucky and will see that the news is passed to Dupont's relatives.

        As regards the covering letter from M.I.9 will you please tell them of any specific question you would like asked.  We will write to M.I.9 and ask the obvious question whether or not the show was a success and if not why, but you may have other questions dealing with matters outside this operation which you might like to ask.

 

[Signed]