Operation Safari (i)

This was a British unrealised concept for an Allied ‘triphibious’ landing in Denmark no earlier than 1 May 1943 (1942/43).

The concept originated with Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who remained constantly sceptical of the US desire for a single massive landing on the French coast of occupied Europe followed by a direct thrust by the shortest possible route to the heart of Germany. Churchill believed strongly that more useful results might, and indeed would, accrue to the Allied cause from a series of six smaller but simultaneous landings in occupied Europe between Norway and southern France, for whereas some of these might find themselves embroiled against superior forces, others might have relative ‘walk-overs’ against inferior German forces and thus secure valuable lodgements with minimal casualties.

Churchill’s primary objective was northern Norway (‘Jupiter’), where he thought the initial landing should be made, but this would be greatly aided by landings or feints at Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Pas de Calais (where Churchill proposed a major air battle), the Cotentin peninsula, Brittany, St Nazaire and the mouth of the Gironde river.

Churchill anticipated that some four of these landings might be successful in securing a major port, and this would allow about 700,000 Allied troops to be landed in the first 15 days of the whole operation. Churchill’s plans were eventually abandoned in the face of determined US and British military insistence as wholly unsound at the operational level as they demanded unavailable numbers of amphibious warfare ships and craft, and were also far too diffuse and thus offered no real concentration of effort or aim against Germany proper.