Operation Squatter

This was a British special forces raid by the Special Air Service against two forward airfields of the Axis forces in North Africa (16/17 November 1941).

The object of the undertaking was to secure British air superiority over Lieutenant General Sir Alan Cunningham’s 8th Army about 24 hours before the start of ‘Crusader’ by destroying as many Axis aircraft as possible.

Five Bristol Bombay aircraft of the RAF’s No. 216 Squadron, carrying 65 men of Captain A. D. Stirling’s special force, attempted a clandestine night drop on two dropping zones near the Axis airfields at Gazala (three aircraft) and Tmimi (two aircraft). An adverse weather forecast had been discounted, but strong gusting winds wrecked the insertion plan, and the mission was aborted with the loss of one aeroplane, its crew, an army observer officer and SAS casualties of five killed, and 28 men were taken prisoner.

Only 21 out of the 65 men reached the agreed rendezvous point with a patrol of the Long Range Desert Group for extraction for extraction in 'Springtime'.

Another attempt was made on the same targets in December, and on this occasion the SAS troops made an overland approach and destroyed 60 aircraft.