2SAS Operations


Does anyone have any detailed information on any of the following 2SAS Operations:-

Sleepy Lad

These were all 2SAS Operations that took place in Italy between September 1943 and April 1944.

Even just names of personnel involved would be a start.

My grandfather's service records show that he was with BNAF (British North Africa Force) from August 1943 to March 1944 when he returned to the UK to officially transfer to 2SAS. I have made the assumption that his time with BNAF, is in fact, his early days with 2SAS but I have no hard facts to back this up. However, I have a recollection from when my grandfather was alive of something to do with Escaped POWs and a lighthouse (which could have been Begonia/Jonquil) and I have his silk maps of Italy/Ancona. He passed parachute training in September 1943 (in my original post, this did say "September 1942 whilst serving with 4HAA Royal Artillery" but the date is shown as September 1943 in his personal service records book which ties in with going to North Africa in August 1943)

Thanks in anticipation

Tim Williams ( grandson of Edward Williams 2SAS 777958 )
Operation Baobab
30th January 1944
In support of the Anzio landings designed to sever railway lines which transported German supplies down through Italy. Also involved in destroying bridge between Pesaro and Fano on Italy?s east coast. Achieved successfully with explosives.

Operation Begonia

September 1943
2nd October (drops)
4th-6th October (seaborne landings)
60 soldier 2 SAS
Making contact with allied prisoners who found themselves freed after the surrender of Italy in 1943 and guiding them to beeches on the Adriatic coast. They party was landed on the coast between Ancona and Pescara or parachuted farther inland. Contact was made with hundreds of prisoners but only a handful was evacuated. This is due mainly to bad planning (boats arriving to find no POWS on the beaches. No more than 50 POWS were evacuated.

Operation Candyluft
27th October 1943
Commanded major Roy Farran
Run in conjunction with operation Saxifrage. Designed to cut the railway line that ran down the east coast of Italy between Ancona and Pescara. They landed on the coast by night and spent the next 6 days behind the lines operating in terrible weather. The railway was severed and roads were mined before the unit was extracted by MTB. Two troopers were captured.

Operation Devon
October 1943
Successful raid on Italian Town of Termoli

Operation Driftwood (part of operation Maple)
Early 1944
8 soldiers 2 SAS
Two four man teams inserted and detailed to attack Urbrino ?Fabriano and Acona-Rimini Lines. The exact fate of the raiders remains unclear.

Operation Jonquil

October 1943
B squadron 2SAS

A complete disaster which was intended to round up large numbers of allied prisoners wandering around Italy after the surrender. The plan for four seaborne parties from B squadron 2 SAS to land between Ancona and Pescara on Italy?s Adriatic coast to act as guides for the POWS after assembling a numbers of civilian sailing vessels for the task the plan immediately went wrong. The Germans counterattacked Termoli on the 5th October, forcing the vessels to return to Bari. In addition there were enemy aircraft operating in the area and the Germans impounded local fishing vessels which the SAS had hoped to use. Many POWS made it to the beaches but only a few were evacuated. Lack of communications resulted in boats arriving when there were no POWS and vice versa. The fact that the SAS were not involved in the planning did nothing to assuage the feelings of deep disappointment over the operation

Operation Maple
7th January 1944

The intention was to cut rail communications north of rome and on the coast. The mission was divided in two ?thistledown? invoved two parties of four men assigned to sever rail lines around Terni and Orvieto: ?driftwood? was two four man parties tasked to cut the Urbino-Fabriano and Ancona-Rimini Lines. All of thistledowns targets were attacked successfully ( RAF had already bombed one) however all men were captured. The fate of driftwood remains a mystery to this day. It is believed that they were either captured and executed or drowned attempting extraction. There was an intention to reinforce Driftwood prior to this but bad weather halted that. Instead they were replaced by operation Boabab party at the end of January.
3 ops he is not on to narrow the field are trueform, dunhill, and tombola.

have you sent a copy of his record to the sas association yet?

Thanks for your reply Phil.

I should really get round to doing that, although I do know my grandfather didn't join the association and did not keep in touch with those he served with.

I was really hoping someone might have details/contents of
WO 218/176 to WO 218/185.

I did once get a letter from a Retired Colonel (I think) called "Edlin" when I expressed an interest in being invited to the SAS reunions in London about 5 or 6 years ago (I never got round to it and I imagine there's not many WW2 SAS still around unless Cyril Wheeler, who I spoke to over the phone, is still going strong, he must be nearly 100 now). Col Edlin wrote in his letter that my grandfather was on the nominal roll of Archway and Pistol. I'm not sure if the Association could easily find further details, especially as my grandfather didn't officially join the SAS 'til April 1944
doesnt matter if he didnt join. Greville will want a copy for records, plus if you request stuff in your accompanying letter about certain mission he will look it up for you probably. as for WO files, easiest way to see them is go to london or buy copies of them, its usually expensive but could be worth it. also date of joining the sas wont matter, once you in your on the books.

Greville is in charge of the archives by the way and he is very helpful where he can be. you can request stuff and you probably will only be charged for postage I think. ask for after action reports on certain missions

Hi Tim,
S.A.S In Tuscany 1943-45 (ISBN 978-1-84884-446-9) published this year and has Op Speedwell (1 & 2)More on Op Speedwell 2. While it does not have anything on the other Op's you mentioned (13 other Operations are covered, including the above mentioned) it is a good book and gives an insight into the Regiment in Italy.

kind regards,

If anyone's interested, I've made a start with transcriptions of the 2SAS Italy Operations. So you can find Operation Jonquil at the website below

Hello Tim
You might want to also search on Operation SIMCOL which is an alternative codename for the same Begonia/Jonquil operation in which several MCs, MMs, and DCMs were awarded.
Thanks DenysB, I have had a quick look at the entries. Apologies for not replying sooner, for some reason, I didn't get any sort of notification to say something had been posted.
Hello Tim,
can't see a mention of your father's name or rank, but if you're still interested I can direct you to very detailed information about Operation Speedwell 1.
Hello Tim,

I'm not sure if I've seen the WO to which you refer. What I do have is a copy of my father's write up of it which was published in Mars & Minerva magazine in the early 1980s. If you would like that electronically I can send it to you. If you send me a private message with your email address I'll post it on.

Hi - very late to this game but I don't suppose there is mention of John Sumnall in the Op Speedwell report?
Can't see his name in the Op Speedwell report. Sumnall definitely on Op Keystone and part of War Crimes Investigation Team. Likely to also have been on Op Apostle in Norway
Hello I would interested to see the full recorded transcript of Boabab as I have a report from the photo reconnaissance and photograph
My Father was Signalman Dowell
Can't see his name in the Op Speedwell report. Sumnall definitely on Op Keystone and part of War Crimes Investigation Team. Likely to also have been on Op Apostle in Norway
Thank you so much for coming back to me. John Sumnall was my Grandpa - I have a copy of Keystone and also Wallace/Hardy in France, and yes he was in Norway and WCIT. The thing I am missing is I have a mentioned in dispatches for him for Italy but can't work out what for! Trying to work it out by a process of elimination!!! So I can cross off Speedwell.