Operation Larkswood

This was a British special forces operation by two squadrons of the Belgian Independent Parachute Company (5th Special Air Service) under the command of Capitaine Edouard Blondeel in the north-eastern part of the German-occupied Netherlands (3 April/8 May 1945).

The Belgians were used as reconnaissance troops, initially by Lieutenant General G. G. Simonds’s Canadian II Corps and, later, by Generał brygady Stanisław Maczek’s Polish 1st Armoured Division. As the Canadians advanced in the north-eastern Netherlands, the Special Air Service party in 40 Jeeps raced ahead them. The terrain was poor for Jeeps as it was crisscrossed by dykes and canals, but the SAS troopers did nevertheless manage to capture several bridges and relieve some of the ‘Amherst’ parties which had not been reached by the Canadians. The Belgians, in the face of determined resistance, took heavy casualties but pushed on into Germany as the spearhead of the Polish 1st Armoured Division up to the end of the war in Europe.

Although ‘Larkswood’ was moderately successful, it was indicative of how higher Allied command often misused the Special Air Service as forward reconnaissance forces rather than as raiders hitting targets deep behind the lines.