Operation Galia

'Galia' was a British operation by No. 3 Squadron, 2nd Special Air Service, to aid Italian partisans near Rossano in north-western Italy in support of the forthcoming offensive by Lieutenant General Lucian K. Truscott’s US 5th Army (27 December 1944/mid-February 1945).

In this area Major General Edward M. Almond’s US 92nd Division was being harassed by Generalleutnant Otto Fretter-Pico’s 148th Division of General Valentin Feurstein’s LI Gebirgskorps within General Kurt von Tippelskirch’s 14th Army and had to yield ground, so the 2nd SAS, which had just returned to England from service in France, was tasked to provide help by simulating the deployment of elements of Brigadier C. H. V. Pritchard’s 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade Group, which had been moved to Greece, and then harassing the German division’s lines of communication.

Under the command of Captain R. Walker-Brown, the 34-man party of A Troop, No. 3 Squadron, 2nd SAS, was parachuted into the area between La Spezia and Genoa. The drop was made by day in order that the jump would be observed by the Germans, and the SAS party was then to establish links with the local partisans for co-ordinated harassment of the German and Fascist Italian rear areas (in order of priority) between La Spezia and Parma, La Spezia and Genoa, and Aulla and Reggio. The group then co-ordinated local activities to disrupt German and Fascist Italian communications in the area. The operation was undertaken in the most appalling winter conditions, and inflicted 150 casualties on the Germans, who also lost 25 vehicles and additionally wasted their effort in a 6,000-man sweep through the area after SAS-inspired rumours had suggested that there was a substantial Allied force operating in north-western Italy.