Operation Zombie

This was the British definitive version of the special forces operation planned as ‘Cold Comfort’ and undertaken by the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Special Air Service, to aid Italian partisans in the neighbourhood of Verona and to cut the rail line leading to the Brenner Pass through the triggering of avalanches and/or landslides, so preventing the rail line’s use by the Germans for moving troops south from Austria into northern Italy (17 February/end of March 1945).

At the beginning of the operation, 13 ski-trained SAS troopers under the command of Captain Littlejohn were paradropped north of Verona but immediately encountered problems in the fact that they were scattered, bad weather then prevented the delivery of reinforcements and additional equipment, and the basically Germanic ethnic origins of the local inhabitants meant that they were antipathetic to the Allied cause.

A 14-man reinforcement party was parachuted into the same area on 25 February.

Two of the SAS party, including its commander, were captured and later executed, and the other men were evacuated at the end of March after failing to achieve their objective.