SAS 2 SAS Italy

John Robertson

Staff member
Can anyone help with this enquiry.

My Uncle Herbert William Goodwin died last year and has left a detailed diary which includes his service in the 2nd SAS Regiment in Italy during 1943-1944.

The diary describes in accurate detail an operation in April 1944 with him as part of a four man team, together with Italian partisans, to destroy a railway bridge which we believe was located south of Avezzano (Abruzzo Region) Italy.

The team consisted of the following personnel :

Sgt Harry Turner (killed)
Sgt Harold Bishop (survived)
Cpl Jim Bradshaw (missing)
Herbert William Goodwin (1835151) The other team members Army numbers are not known and my Uncles rank at the time of the operation is not known.

The operation started I believe on April 3rd 1944 when the team was flown in a British Dakota aircraft from an allied airfield near Foggia and dropped near a small village named Monteechio (sic ?) near Isernia. They were then guided by Italian partisans north over the Apennine mountains for 3-4 days to the location of the steel span railway bridge near we believe to the village of Capistrello south of Avezzano.

Cpl Jim Bradshaw went missing directly after the initial parachute drop and we do not know if he survived.
Sgt Harry Turner and one of the partisans were killed by random German machine gun fire near the bridge after the operation.
There appears to be no record of Sgt Harry Turner's burial in any CWGC in Italy) .

The operation was apparently a success with the bridge being blown and Sgt Harold Bishop and Herbert William Goodwin returned south guided by partisans to the allied lines near Cassino.

I have been told by two authors of books on SAS operations (Peter Darman and Malcolm Tudor) that the operation may have been part of 'Operation Maple' and/or sub-operation 'Thistledown' or 'Driftwood'.?. These operations I believe started in January 1944 and in most cases were operated by small four man teams. These operations were we understand to try and eliminate rail communications on the Italian railways north of the Gustav Line which would potentially have assisted the German reinforcement against the Anzio landings.

It is generally reported however that all of the 'Thistledown' teams were captured which of course does not gel with my Uncle and Sgt Harold Bishop returning to allied lines. 'Driftwood' teams also consisted of four man teams but these are reported as 'fate unknown', but assumed to all be killed, or captured and killed. Of course Hitler's notorious 'Commando Death Order' was in operation at the time and my Uncle writes in detail in his diary that they had to read this order prior to going on any operation behind German Lines.

Any help as to where I may find details such as official records of such an operation would be greatly appreciated.

My late Uncle never spoke to me or the rest of his family about his service in the SAS during his life and subsequently it has only come to light by reading his private diaries after his death.

Roger H Freeman

No 7 Semmens Road
McLaren Vale
South Australia 5171.
Born of the Desert: With the S.A.S. in North Africa
The Last Gentleman of the SAS: A Moving Testimony from the First Allied Officer to Enter Belsen at the End of the Second World War
A British Achilles: The Story of George, 2nd Earl Jellicoe KBE DSO MC FRS 20th Century Soldier, Politician, Statesman
SAS with the Maquis
Daggers Drawn: Real Heroes of the SAS and SBS
General Salutes a Soldier
Special Boat Squadron
SAS Operation Galia
The SBS in World War II: An Illustrated History
The SAS and LRDG Roll of Honour 1941-47
The Imperial War Museums' Book of War Behind Enemy Lines
The Phantom Major: The Story of David Stirling and the SAS Regiment


Hello Australia,
My father was in 2 SAS in Italy and he was responsible at that time for sending in all re-supply drops by parachute to missions up north. His CO was Roy Farran. His freind, Jack Payley may be still alive - he too was in Italy.
Graham Alcock


Have you seen the group photograph of 2 SAS called the Italy Detachment - your relative has his photo there and his name.
Graham Alcock