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Forces War Records Blog

HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS: ON THIS DAY 10TH FEB 1941 FIRST BRITISH AIRBORNE RAID 'OPERATION COLOSSUS'

The 11th Special Air Service Battalion made history on the 10th February with the first British parachute  on enemy territory, Operation Colossus. The British airborne establishment was formed in June 1940 by the order of the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, in response to the successful airborne operations conducted by the German military during the Battle of France. Training began immediately, but a shortage of proper equipment and training facilities, as well as bureaucratic difficulties, meant that only a small number of volunteers could immediately be trained as parachute troops. Thirty five men were dropped in southern Italy and blew up the Tragino Aqueduct which supplied water to Naples and the surrounding area. The raiders successfully blew up the aqueduct but it was repaired within a matter of days. Plans for the men to be evacuated by submarine had to be abandoned when the rendezvous site was compromised, and the plan had made no provision for an alternative rendezvous point. In any event the the escaping men, who travelled in four groups, found it extremely difficult to travel covertly across country in a landscape packed with small farms. They were all soon captured. The Italian interpreter, Fortunato Picchi, who accompanied the group posing as a member of Free French forces, was shot as a spy. One officer, Lieutenant Deane-Drummond, managed to make his escape the following year Source: WWIItoday & Wiki
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