Operation Howard

This was a British special forces operation by B and C Squadrons, 1st Special Air Service, to provide reconnaissance for Major General C. Vokes’s Canadian 4th Armoured Division in its advance toward Oldenburg in north-western Germany (6 April/6 May 1945).

Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel R. B. Mayne, this Jeep-mounted party departed from Tilbury on 6 April and reached Nijmegen in the Netherlands during following day. Thereafter the 40 Jeeps travelled in two columns, though the terrain was far from ideal as it was crisscrossed by dykes and waterways. The SAS troopers advanced 37 miles (50 km) in three days, although B Squadron was caught in an ambush.

The SAS troopers soon discovered that their Jeeps were no match for German ambush parties and so, after suffering a number of casualties, pulled back to refit. Advancing once more, they reached Oldenburg on 3 May before being ordered to move back to Belgium.

‘Howard’ was only partially successful and, though the SAS party inflicted some damage, it also suffered heavy casualties.