Operation Springtime

This was a British unsuccessful special forces raid by elements of the Special Air Service on Axis installations in the area of Tobruk (14 November 1941).

In November 1941 the Long Range Desert Group, under the command of Lieutenant General Sir Alan Cunningham’s newly formed British 8th Army, moved its base from Kufra oasis to Siwa oasis on central Libya, its patrols being given the task of watching the desert tracks to the south of the Jebel Akhdar and report any signs of Axis reinforcements and withdrawals. The R1 patrol was given the task of collecting Captain A. D. Stirling and 30 men who had parachuted into the area behind the Axis lines to raid the airfields near Gazala and Tmimi to the west of Tobruk. As a result of bad weather, the RAF dropped the raiding party well wide its its targets, and some of the party’s men were lost or drowned in a wadi running bank-high with water after sudden, torrential rain storm.

Only Stirling and 20 of his men arrived at the rendezvous and were returned to the British lines, later becoming the nucleus of the Special Air Service, and on the next occasion the SAS raided Axis airfields they were carried to and from the target area by the Long Range Desert Group.