Operation Agreement Jewish Commandos and the Raid on Tobruk

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2016-06-21
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing

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The Special Interrogation Group (SIG) was the most exceptional of Special Forces. Created to raid behind enemy lines, posing as German troops, the SIG was largely made up of German Jews who were all too aware of the dangers they faced--capture meant either death or deportation to a concentration camp.

In 1942, Operation Agreement saw the SIG tasked with taking part in a raid on Tobruk, where they were to make up the land-based element of the attack. Disguised as POWs under “escort” by German SIGs, the group covered close to 1,700 miles of desert to reach their target. The ruse worked perfectly and SIG went on to destroy a number of coastal guns before eventually being overwhelmed by Axis forces.

This is the history of the SIG, revealing startling details about the group, and moving insights into the men, many of whom were Jewish volunteers who were putting their lives on the line to fight against the evils of fascism in Europe.

Author Biography

Douglas John Sadler, a military historian, lectures at the Centre for Lifelong Learning at Sunderland University and is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. A well-traveled battlefield tour guide covering most major conflicts in the UK, Europe, and North Africa, he knows the ground over which the Desert War was fought. He is married with two grown-up daughters, and lives in Mid-Northumberland.

Table of Contents

Chapter one – the Blue; war in the Desert – the Western Desert, brief introduction, navigation, pre war exploration, Bagnold/Almasy and the scope for special forces, conditions of warfare, the 'pendulum', personalities
Chapter two – Genesis of Special Forces in the Desert War – Bagnold, Wavell and the LRDG; early exploits, tactics, vehicles and equipment, SOE and codebreakers
Chapter three – the Special Interrogation Group – the background in Palestine, Zionists and Terrorists, the Nazi Persecution, the grand Mufti, Irgun and Haganah, rationale and recruitment, role of SOE, the Special German Group as sub-unit of Middle Eastern Commando. Some were already serving with 51 Commando and others were recruited directly from the Palmach, Hagahah and Irgun with a smattering from the French Foreign Legion, the SIG was formed as D Squadron, 1st Special Service Regiment
Chapter four – the Pendulum of Desert War – 'Compass', 'Battleaxe' and 'Brevity' the DAK, 'Crusader' Gazala and Mersa Matruh, 1st El Alamein and Alam Halfa, role of LRDG/SAS/SBS, importance of supply, the role of the Nile Delta
Chapter five - the plan; Operation Agreement – wide role of special forces, the business of Tobruk, capture, siege and fall, the defences and target, why was this important, how did the planning for the raid evolve why was it revolutionary
Chapter six – Preparation, selection & training – the men, their training, preparedness, SIG & LRDG etc. Training near Suez, desert navigation, unarmed combat, use of Axis weapons and explosives, issue of German identities, living and training as Germans, role of British Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre (“CSDIC”)
Chapter seven – the impossible mission – the final plan, making ready, setting off, detail of Operations Bigamy, Nicety, Caravan & Agreement; strategic thinking, aims and objectives, targets, timing, personnel and kit, attempt o damage Axis war effort, aim to capture Jalo Oasis
Chapter eight – across the sands – the great desert trek, tensions and evasions, the successful attack on Barce
Chapter nine – into Tobruk – gaining entry, keeping the bluff working, making ready, failures of planning and security
Chapter ten – the raid and landings – the action, operations 'Bigamy' and 'Nicety', failures at Benghazi and Jalo, role of Stirling and the SAS and Sudan Defence Force
Chapter eleven – escape – failures and counting the cost
Chapter twelve – the survivors – disbandment of SIG in September 1942 and transfer of survivors to Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps; adventures of 'Tiffen' Tiefenbrunner as POW of the Italians; the subsequent struggle for Palestine
Notes to chapters
Appendices: Orders of Battle for Operation Agreement

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