Operation Taube (i)

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This was a German alternative name for ‘Artur’, an operation devised by the Abwehr’s Abteilung II department for the delivery back to Éire (Irish Free State) of the Irish Republican Army’s chief-of-staff, Seán Russell, and as a last-minute addition Frank Ryan, another IRA representative in Germany (May/August 1940).

Seán Russell had reached Berlin on 5 May 1940, four days after arriving in Genoa from the USA, and was told of ‘Mainau’, the plan to parachute Dr Hermann Görtz into Ireland. Russell was asked to brief Görtz about Ireland before the agent’s departure that night, but missed his take-off from the Fritzlar airfield near Kassel.

By 20 May Russell had begun Abwehr training in the use of the latest German explosives and explosive devices. This training was conducted at the Abwehr laboratory and training school in Berlin-Tegel, where a major field of interest was the design of explosives as everyday objects. Russell also visited the ‘Quenzgut’ training area for Hauptmann Dr Theodor von Hippel’s Lehr-Regiment ‘Brandenburg’ zbV 800, the Abwehr-controlled special forces unit, and here witnessed instructors and trainees working with sabotage materials in a field environment.

Because he had received explosives training, the return of Russell to Ireland with a definite sabotage objective was planned by the Abwehr. While Görtz landed successfully, the capture of the German agents delivered in ‘Hummer I’ did not prevent the Abwehr’s head, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, from cancelling the ‘Taube’ delivery of Russell and Ryan to their homeland. Russell and Frank Ryan departed from Wilhelmshaven in U-65 during 8 August. Russell fell ill during the voyage and, the U-boat having no doctor among its crew, died on 14 August about 100 miles (160 km) off County Galway. Russell was buried at sea and ‘Taube’ (i) was aborted.