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Operation Bigamy, raid on Benghazi.

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Operation Bigamy, raid on Benghazi.

Postby JeffreyF on 11 Oct 2004 06:40

I was combing through 'War without Hate' to re-read it's version of the British raid on Tobruk and was reminded of this secondary attack. Does anyone have information on how this went about. The book really waxes poetic about the raid vs. telling a decent recount imo.

Thanks for any help.
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Postby DrG on 16 Oct 2004 21:07

Operation Bigamy: attacks on the airports of Barce and Bengasi (Benghazi), on the port of Bengasi and on the fort of Gialo (Jalo).

Barce: on 13 Sept. 1942 12 trucks, carrying 30 men of the LRDG commanded by Lt. Jake Easonsmith, reached a point at a distance of about 30 km from Barce, as planned. They had left el-Fayum and crossed 1,200 km of desert. The airport had good defences from the desert, but was left with a few men garrisoning the seaside; the men of the LRDG attacked along the coastal Balbia road, where the defences were low. They were able to destroy a truck and 16 airplanes and damage 7 airplanes. At 4 am of 14 Sept. they left the airport but suffered the first losses, then, during the day, were constanstly strafed by Italian fighters that destroyed 10 of the trucks; the survivors reached L.G.125 (an improvised airstrip 200 west of Giarabub) and Cufra.

Bengasi: the task force was led by col. David Stirling, fouder of the SAS, and included some soldiers of the SBS dressed as Germans. When Stirling and his trucks, in the late evening of 13 Sept. 1942, pretending to be German, approached the garrison of a check-point near Bengasi, the German soldiers opened fire (they had been informed of the possible use of this trick). Thus the British forces retreated quickly, but the return to their base was very difficult: the desert was the grave of some of the men, and 3 surrendered to Italian garrisons in the following days. The plan of this attack has been criticized by one of the men of the SBS in his memories: A. Gilbert, "The Desert War", London, Motorbooks, 1995.

Gialo: 200 men of the Sudan Defence Force, equipped also with artilley, coming from Cufra, attacked Gialo on 16 Sept. 1942. The Italian garrison, helped also by airplanes, resisted untill 21 Sept., when the British forces retreated because of an incoming Italian column from Agedabia.

(source: Tullio Marcon, "Scacco matto a Tobruk", Storia Militare n. 79 apr. 2000)
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Postby JeffreyF on 22 Oct 2004 05:12

Sorry for the delay in saying thanks for the information.
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Postby Michael Emrys on 15 Jan 2005 23:18

Fritzroy Maclean in his memoir Escape to Adventure gives a detailed account of the Benghazi raid, along with an earlier reconnaisance that penetrated the town and harbor and spent the better part of a weekend there walking around and surveying the place!
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Postby Michael Emrys on 15 Jan 2005 23:20

BTW, there is also a very good account of the Tobruk part of the operation called Tobruk Commando, though I forget the author's name.
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Re: Operation Bigamy, raid on Benghazi.

Postby Graham Clayton on 12 Apr 2011 04:06

The monument located at el-Hauauiri has the rusting remains of a M3 Stuart Light tank. Apparently to give extra firepower to the SAS units led by Stirling, two M3 tanks were to be part of the attack force. The tanks were transported up the Nile to Wadi Halfa and then transported to Kufra on heavy trucks. One of the tanks broke down approximately 20 kilometres north-west of Kufra, which corresponds with the location of the rusting tank. What was the fate of the other M3?

"Incident at Jebel Sherif", by Kuno Gross, Brendan O'Carroll, Roberto Chiarvetto (Kuno Gross, 2009) has photos of the tank. Here is another photo:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bentaher/3177078990/
"Air superiority is a condition for all operations, at sea, in land, and in the air." - Air Marshal Arthur Tedder.
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Re: Operation Bigamy, raid on Benghazi.

Postby Urmel on 14 Oct 2012 18:37

It is interesting to note that Allied propaganda implied that the raid on Gialo had actually succeeded, and even sent around pictures of trucks standing in front of the Presidio!
The excellence of [German] forward repair and recovery organisation gives us a salutary lesson in this respect. 7 Armoured Division report, Sept. 1941

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle in the Desert 1941/42
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Re: Operation Bigamy, raid on Benghazi.

Postby Patton42 on 01 Jan 2013 22:17

Can anyone advise which italian units made up the Gialo garrison? Thanks
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Re: Operation Bigamy, raid on Benghazi.

Postby Oasis on 02 Jan 2013 11:47

I can just say that on 20 july italian D'Antoni column takes possession of Gialo composed by:
command of 35. div. Pistoia with two battalions, one battery howitzers, 57. btn complementi bersaglieri, one armoured squadron "Monferrato". The day after they reject a british attack.

Toni
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Re: Operation Bigamy, raid on Benghazi.

Postby Patton42 on 02 Jan 2013 14:05

Thank you. I have never seen a breakdown of troops stationed here during the raid. Always just said 200 Italian soldiers.
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Re: Operation Bigamy, raid on Benghazi.

Postby David W on 03 Jan 2013 01:17

Quote ""57. btn complementi bersaglieri,""

I have seen this unit listed on a wargame O.o.B, but nowhere else until now. I always assumed it was a mistake or a typo, but evidently not.
What more can you tell me about it?
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