Operation Jonquil

British special forces operation by the 2nd Special Air Service to collect and evacuate some of the large number of Allied ex-prisoners of war on the loose in the Italian countryside following Italy’s September 1943 armistice with the Allies (4/12 October 1943).

Undertaken as the amphibious counterpart of the airborne ‘Begonia’ (i), the plan called for four parties from B Squadron, 2nd Special Air Service, to land between Ancona and Pescara on Italy’s Adriatic Sea coast to act as guides for the ex-prisoners of war. After a number of civilian fishing vessels had been assembled, the plan went wrong. The Germans counterattacked at Termoli on 5 October, forcing the vessels to move back to Bari. In addition, there were German aircraft operating in the area and the Germans had impounded local fishing vessels which the Special Air Service had hoped to used as cover for the operation. Many ex[prisoners of war reached the beaches, but only a few were evacuated: poor communications resulted in the boats arriving when there were no men to be evacuated and also men arriving where there were no boats.