British Commandos attempted to assassinate Rommel, the Desert Fox, in a daring special forces raid in North Africa during World War II.
On the night of 13 November 1941 two British submarines surfaced off the Libyan coast 250 miles behind German lines. It was dark and stormy, and the 28 commandos on board Torbay had great difficulty climbing into their rubber dinghies and paddling towards the shore. Disaster struck the second submarine, Talisman, when a giant wave swept eleven commandos waiting on deck overboard. At dawn on the morning of 13 November the depleted raiding party was finally ashore, cold, wet and exhausted, but determined nonetheless to press on with their audacious mission - the assassination of General Erwin Rommel, commander of the German forces in North Africa.
The raid made headlines round the free world. It was a shining example of British pluck and daring, proclaimed the papers, and to prove the point, Keyes was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. Yet in truth the raid had been a glorious failure, a mission bedevilled by bad planning and poor intelligence. Yet crucial lessons were learned by subsequent special forces' operations, particularly by the SAS who carried out their first mission on the same night as the raid on Rommel's HQ. By the end of World War II the British special forces were the best in the world.