Operation / Force "Picnic"

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Sandbox, May 30, 2020.

  1. Sandbox

    Sandbox Member

    Hello everybody, I am interested in the story of PICNIC Force, a little 500-strong mobile garrison shipped from Malta to Gozo in late March 1941 to counter a potential Axis (airborne) attack on Malta's sister island.

    Which units made up the Force, and above all: for how long it stayed on Gozo. Was it still there in 1942?

    Thank you in advance for any information and details about the subject.
  2. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

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  3. Temujin

    Temujin Junior Member

    Some info, go to date 29 March 1941 in the source:


    The Independent Company, Special Service Battalion* has been sent to Gozo as part of operation ‘Picnic’. The codename refers to the military detachment posted to defend Malta’s sister Island, thought to be the destination for an imminent Axis invasion. The Battalion is specially trained in covert sea to land operations. They arrived in Malta in January to take part in February’s Operation Colossus, the attempt to destroy a viaduct near Naples. The Specials’ role was to help transfer the paratroops to a submarine for transport back to Malta. The Company is normally based at HMS Talbot, the submarine base on Manoel Island.

    Source: March 1941 – Malta: War Diary
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  4. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Douglas Austin's PhD Thesis of 2001 The Place of Malta in British Strategic Policy 1925-1943, University of London goes into considerable detail about the perceived threats to Malta and the means adopted to counter them and not once in 300 odd pages mentions Gozo. Major Alessandro Vivarelli, Italian Army in The Axis and the Intended Invasion of Malta in 1942: a Combined Planning Endeavor. School of Advanced Military Studies Ft. Leavenworth, briefly mentions a possible seaborne attack on Gozo as a diversionary effort but one recognised as pointless and quickly dropped from the plan. It would seem that neither side took the possibility of Gozo being involved very seriously.
  5. Temujin

    Temujin Junior Member

    A bit more info:


    Information has been received by Malta high command that Gozo is the expected landing point for an enemy invasion. Reliable intelligence sources have confirmed that a German landing battalion with full boat and ferry equipment is heading for the central Mediterranean. The force is expected to arrive on 26 March and to be ready for use ten days later. There are also reported to be a number of flat-bottomed boats in Sicily of the type used for landing troops. The quantity does not seem sufficient for a landing on Malta but it is thought a landing may be attempted on Gozo.

    It is believed the enemy is preparing to carry out a reconnaissance of Gozo on the basis that the Island is undefended, and that therefore a raid on a small scale might be possible. In response, senior military officers from Malta including Administration, Royal Artillery, Royal Irish Fusiliers, Malta Tank Troop and Fortress Royal Engineers are making their own reconnaissance visit to Gozo prior to making suitable provision to defend the Island from invasion.

    Source: 20 March 1941: German Forces Preparing to Invade Gozo
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  6. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    There's also this file:
  7. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

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