Operation Keystone

This was a British special forces operation by a Jeep-mounted squadron of the 2nd Special Air Service under the command of Major Henry Druce with the objectives of interfering with German movements to the south of the IJsselmeer (Zuiderzee) in the German-occupied Netherlands and capturing bridges over the Apeldoorn Canal to aid ‘Cannonshot’ and ‘Varsity’ (3 April/late April 1945).

On 3 April an advance party was landed to secure a dropping zone and link with the local resistance forces. This was achieved, though the party’s radio was smashed on landing. A second party, unable to identify the pre-arranged reception signals, returned to the UK. The main party and its Jeeps were parachuted into the operational area on 11 April, but two later attempts to drop men and vehicles were unsuccessful as a result of bad weather. A second Jeep party under Druce was therefore tasked with driving to the north and linking up with the forward group. Though it had difficulty getting through the German lines, Druce’s team eventually joined the second group on 18 April. The united squadron then drove to the north-east to join the ‘Archway’ teams. Although ‘Keystone’ did succeed in inflicting damage and casualties on the Germans, the operation suffered because the SAS was wrongly used for tactical reconnaissance just ahead of the advancing main armies and not for a deep-penetration reconnaissance.