Operation Pilgrim

This was a British unrealised but definitive early plan to take the Portuguese and Spanish island groups in the Atlantic (July 1941/February 1942).

The plan in essence combined three previous plans (‘Thruster’ against the Portuguese Azores, ‘Springboard’ against the Portuguese Madeira island and ‘Puma’ against the Spanish Canary islands and Portuguese Cape Verde islands) into a single operation to be undertaken by Major General V. W. Odium’s Canadian 2nd Division plus detachments of the special forces (about 24,000 men in all), escorted by Rear Admiral L. H. K. Hamilton’s naval force of one battleship, four fleet carriers, three cruisers and 27 destroyers, and supported once ashore by two squadrons of RAF fighters.

The men and landing craft for this operation were kept under orders for the last six months of 1941, though the task was simplified after the receipt of news that in the event of any German invasion of the Iberian peninsula the Portuguese government would evacuate itself to the Azores island group, whereupon it would accept British or US forces into the islands. The plan was eventually cancelled in February 1942 when more useful commitments for the landing craft and naval forces were fixed.