R.A.F. Report: Operations Amherst & Keystone

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    SECRET

    No. 38 GROUP, ROYAL AIR FORCE REPORT ON OPERATIONS 'AMHERST' AND 'KEYSTONE'.


    I. INTRODUCTION
    Object
    Assumptions


    II. PREPARATION
    Preliminary Planning 5-8.
    Outline Plan
    Military Tasks
    Cover Plan
    Order of Battale
    The Air Force Tasks
    Command
    Weather
    Control
    The Flight Plan
    Timing
    Navigational Aids
    Dropping Zones
    Re-supply
    Operation Orders
    Dates and Times


    III. EXECUTION
    Sources of Information
    Operation 'AMHERST'
    Results
    Deception
    Operation 'KEYSTONE'
    Signals
    Ground Situation
    No. 38 Group Casualties


    IV. LESSONS LEARNED
    Planning
    Troops Employed
    Re-supply
    Dropping Zones
    Simulators
    Paratroop Teams
    Blind Paratroop Dropping


    APPENDICES
    Appendix 'A' - Route Diagram.
    Appendix 'B' - Details of Paratroop Drops giving discrepancies etc.
    Appendix 'C' - Map showing where paratroops landed.


    ILLUSTRATION
    Reduced Scale Map showing Area of Operations.
     
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    SECRET

    No. 38 GROUP, ROYAL AIR FORCE REPORT ON OPERATIONS 'AMHERST' AND 'KEYSTONE'.

    These operations took place between the 7th and 12th April 1945 and were planned to operate S.A.S. Troops in enemy rear areas during the advance of the FIRST CANADIAN ARMY, in HOLLAND.


    Signed N.C. SINGER
    Air Commodore
    Air Officer Commanding
    No.38 Group, ROYAL AIR FORCE

    7th July 1945.
     
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    I. INTRODUCTION

    Object
    1. The object of Operations 'AMHERST' and 'KEYSTONE' was to operate S.A.S. Troops in HOLLAND to cause maximum amount of confusion in enemy rear areas during the advance of the FIRST CANADIAN ARMY; asset to raise 'Resistance' in HOLLAND, and, obtain information and act in any way possible to assist forward the FIRST CANADIAN ARMY.

    Assumptions
    2. That parachutists, used in small parties could assert their influence over a wide area and prevent a retreating enemy from forming a new line.

    3. That the nature of the terrain was such that parachutists could operate with great advantage.

    4. That 'Resistance' in the area was not believed to be very strong, it had never been considered a very good area in which to organise 'Resistance'. Thereafter, it was important that the operations should not be premature, as time was required to warn personnel concerned.
     
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    II. PREPARATION

    Preliminary Planning
    5. On the 28th March 1945, a proposal was made by 21 ARMY GROUP for the employment of S.A.S. Troops in North East HOLLAND. Two days later, an outline plan was approved by the Commander, FIRST CANADIAN ARMY after discussion with the Commander, S.A.S. Troops at Main Headquarters, CANADIAN ARMY.

    6. On 1st April 1945, the Commander S.A.S. Troops visited A.O.C. No. 38 Group, ROYAL AIR FORCE, and informed him that operations 'AMHERST' and 'KEYSTONE' were being considered by S.H.A.E.F. and that it was not though they would be called for before the night 5/6th April 1945. Accordingly, an Army/Air Coordinating Conference was held between No. 38 Group, ROYAL AIR FORCE and H.Q. S.A.S. Troops on 2nd April 1945.

    7. This was followed by a Conference between representatives of the formations concerned at H.Q. FIRST CANADIAN ARMY. This Conference was also attended by representatives of No. 84 Group, ROYAL AIR FORCE who were the controlling Tactical Air Force Group in the area of proposed operations. At this Conference, the CANADIAN ARMY and 84 Group named objectives vital to the ground and air battle. These subsequently became the military tasks for the S.A.S. Troops.

    8. On 4th April 1945, a further Conference was called at H.Q. S.A.S. Troops (ESSEX) and was attended by 38 Group. The proposed plane was discussed and it was stated that the Operations would not be called for before the night 6/7th April 1945. Dropping Zones were discussed and finally agreed between S.A.S. Troops and 38 Group during the two following days.


    Outline Plan
    9. The plan naturally divided itself into two distinct operations:-

    (i) Operation 'AMHERST' which provided for the dropping of the 2 and 3 REGIMENTS DE CHASSEURS PARACHUTISTES, with jeeps, under British Command.

    (ii) Operation 'KEYSTONE' which provided for the dropping of the 2 S.A.S. REGIMENT with jeeps, preceded by two JEDBURGH (wireless) teams with S.A.S. Staff Officers and Other Ranks accompanying them, to carry out reconnaissance and obtain as much information as possible.


    Military Tasks
    10. Operation 'AMHERST' laid down the main axis of advance in the area of the Dropping Zones as follows:-

    (i) Right - 4th CANADIAN ARMOURED DIVISION
    Read GRANSBERGEN V.2866 - GOEVORDEN V.3252 - EMMEN V.4266 - ROAD JUNCTION V.536756 - WEDDE V.5697.

    (ii) Centre - 2nd CANADIAN DIVISION
    Road HOOGEVEEN V.1459 - BEILEN V.1774 - ASSEN V.2189.

    (iii) Left - 3rd CANADIAN DIVISION
    Road ZWOLLE Z.8936 - MEPPEL Z.9556 - WOLVEGA Z.8377.


    Cover Plan
    The particular tasks of the 2 and 3 REGIMENTS DE CHASSEURS PARACHUTISTES were to secure intact the following bridges and airfields in order of priority:-

    (i) Airfield STEENWIJK/one Z.983690
    (ii) Airfield STEENWIJK/two Z.987664
    (ii) Road bridge 283666
    (iv) Road bridge 299477
    (v) Road bridge 327518
    (vi) Road bridge 323526
    (vii) Railway bridge 324515
    (viii) Road bridge 367599
    (ix) Road bridge 422644
    (x) Road bridge 536756
    (xi) Road bridge 536800
    (xii) Road bridge 516814
    (xiii) Airfield HELVE Q. 2306
    (xiv) Railway bridge 148608
    (xv) Road bridge 171739
    (xvi) Road bridge 189779
    (xvii) Road bridge 955559 (MEPPEL)
    (xviii) Road bridge 953572 (MEPPEL)
    (xix) Railway bridge 960597 (MEPPEL)
    (xx) Road bridge 213900
    (xxi) Road bridge 357586
    (xxii) Airfield LEEUWARDEN U. 6815

    12. If any of the above bridges were found to be already blown or not to exist, any other bridges on one of the three main axes were to be "deloused" and the location notified to Main Headquarters 2 CANADIAN CORPS.

    13. Operation 'KEYSTONE' laid down that the main axis of the FIRST CANADIAN ARMY advance after establishing a bridgehead across the River ISSEL would be:-

    (i) Road DEVENTER Z.9207

    (ii) APELDOORN Z.7903

    (iii) OTTERLOO E.6591

    14. The particular tasks of the 2 S.A.S. REGIMENT were to secure intact the following bridges and airfields in order of priority:-

    (i) Airfield TEURE 846066
    (ii) Road bridge 845053
    (iii) Road bridge 797031
    (iv) Road bridge 793036
    (v) Road bridge 979057
    (vi) Road bridge 812979
    (vii) Road bridge 85073
    (viii) Road bridge 839950

    15. No. 38 Group, ROYAL AIR FORCE were to convey all parachutists and equipment to the Dropping Zones and No. 84 Group ROYAL AIR FORCE were to carry out re-supply by air if necessary.

    16. It was the intention of the Commander, S.A.S. Troops to try and exaggerate in the mind of the German Command, the size of this operation, in order to increase confusion, induce Commanders or Junior Commanders to give in, feeling that honour was satisfied, and mislead the enemy who would then make false dispositions.

    17. The methods planned to create this deception were:-

    (i) Drop simulators by air.

    (ii) Employment of Bomber Command and 100 Group, who were to take action that night in areas near the drop as they would if it had been a normal airborne landing.

    (iii) The utilitization of the B.B.C. and press to announce that landings had taken place in Northern HOLLAND.


    Order of Battle

    18. The Airborne forces comprised:-
    S.A.S. Troops (Brigadier J.M. CALVERT, D.S.O.) with:
    2 S.A.S. REGIMENT
    2 REGIMENT DE CHASSEURS PARACHUTISTES
    3 REGIMENT DE CHASSEURS PARACHUTISTES

    19. The Air Forces conveying troops and equipment comprised aircraft of No. 38 Group ROYAL AIR FORCE (A.V.M. J.R. SCARLETT-STREATFIELD, C.B.E.) with:-
    R.A.F. Station, EARLS COLNE (Halifaxes)
    R.A.F. Station, RIVENHALL (Stirlings)
    R.A.F. Station, SHEPHERDS GROVE (Stirlings)
    R.A.F. Station, GREAT DUNMOW (Stirlings)


    The Air Force Tasks

    20. Operation 'AMHERST'
    The Airborne movement was planned to take place on the night of 6/7th April 1945, in one lift. Dropping Zones were allocated serial numbers and detailed tasks were allotted as follows:-

    AMHERST 3 - 3 Stirlings from GREAT DUNMOW to convey 45 troops and 30 containers to V.230780.

    AMHERST 3 - 3 Halifaxes from EARLS COLNE to convey 3 jeeps, 6 packs and 12 containers to V.230780.

    AMHERST 4 - 3 Stirlings from RIVENHALL to convey 45 troops, 12 containers and 27 simulators to V. 342887.

    AMHERST 6 - 2 Stirlings from GREAT DUNMOW to convey 30 troops, 8 containers and 24 simulators to V. 274776.

    AMHERST 8 - 1 Striling from GREAT DUNMOW to convey 15 troops, 10 containers to V.227839.

    AMHERST 8 - 3 Halifaxes from EARLS COLNE to convey 3 jeeps, 15 packs and 12 containers to V.227839.

    AMHERST 10 - 3 Stirlings from RIVENHALL to convey 45 troops and 12 containers to V.323870.

    AMHERST 11 - 2 Stirlings from GREAT DUNMOW to convey 30 troops and 8 containers to V.212964.

    AMHERST 11 - 3 Stirlings from EARLS COLNE to convey 3 jeeps, 6 packs and 12 containers to V.212964.

    AMHERST 12 - 2 Stirlings from GREAT DUNMOW to convey 30 troops and 8 containers to Q.176002.

    AMHERST 12 - 3 Halifaxes from EARLS COLNE to convey 3 jeeps, 6 packs and 12 containers to Q.176002.

    AMHERST 13 - 3 Stirlings from GREAT DUNMOW to convey 45 troops and 12 containers to V.160937.

    AMHERST 13 - 3 Halifaxes from EARLS COLNE to convey 3 jeeps, 6 paces and 12 containers to V.160937.

    AMHERST 15 - 2 Stirlings from GREAT DUNMOW to convey 30 troops, 8 containers and 24 simulators to V.078818.

    AMHERST 15 - 1 Stirling from SHEPHERDS GROVE to convey 15 troops and 4 containers to V.078818.

    AMHERST 16 - 3 Stirlings from SHEPHERDS GROVE to convey 45 troops and 12 containers to V.055878.

    AMHERST 17 - 3 Stirlings from SHEPHERDS GROVE to convey 45 troops and 12 containers to V.055495.

    AMHERST 18 - 2 Stirlings from SHEPHERDS GROVE to convey 30 troops, 8 containers and 20 simulators to V.058571.

    AMHERST 19 - 3 Stirlings from SHEPHERDS GROVE to convey 45 troops, 12 containers and 30 simulators to V.149693.

    AMHERST 20 - 3 Stirlings from SHEPHERDS GROVE to convey 45 troops and 12 containers to V.162772.

    AMHERST 21 - 2 Stirlings from RIVENHALL to convey 30 troops, 8 containers and 18 simulators to V.295966.

    AMHERST 22 - 2 Stirlings from RIVENHALL to convey 30 troops and 8 containers to V.312926.

    AMHERST 23 - 1 Stirling from GREAT DUNMOW to convey 15 troops and 10 containers to V.269851.

    AMHERST 23 - 3 Halifaxes from EARLS COLNE to convey 3 jeeps, 6 packs and 12 containers to V.269851.

    AMHERST 24 - 3 Stirlings from RIVENHALL to convey 45 troops and 12 containers to V.313825.

    AMHERST 25 - 3 Stirlings from RIVENHALL to convey 45 troops and 12 containers to V.283747.


    21. Operation 'KEYSTONE'
    The airborne was planned to take place on the night of 8/9th April in one lift. Dropping Zones were allocated serial numbers and detailed tasks were allotted as follows:-

    KEYSTONE 1 - 3 Stirlings from GREAT DUNMOW to convey 34 troops, 3 packs and 9 containers to Z.689078 and Z.520033.

    KEYSTONE 1 - 3 Halifaxes from EARLS COLNE to convey 3 jeeps, 3 packs and 12 containers to Z.689078.

    KEYSTONE 2 - 2 Stirlings from GREAT DUNMOW to convey 17 troops to E.685931 and E.655875.

    KEYSTONE 3 - 1 Stirling from GREAT DUNMOW to convey 9 troops, 2 packs and 8 containers to E.683921.

    KEYSTONE 4 - 1 Stirling from GREAT DUNMOW to convey 8 troops to E.655875.


    Command
    22. The 2 S.A.S. REGIMENT and 2 and 3 REGIMENTS DE CHASSEURS PARACHUTISTES was commanded by Brigadier J.M. CALVERT, D.S.O., Commander S.A.S. Troops. No. 38 Group ROYAL AIR FORCE commanded by the A.O.C. A.V.M. J.R. SCARLETT-STREATFIELD, C.B.E.


    Weather
    23. All weather decisions were the responsibility of A.O.C. No. 38 Group ROYAL AIR FORCE, and were to be notified to all concerned.


    Control
    24. On the 6th April 1945, a representative of Headquarters No. 38 Group, joined the Commander, S.A.S. Troops at the Combined Headquarters of the CANADIAN ARMY and No. 84 Group ROYAL AIR FORCE. Thus a combined S.A.S. Troops and 38 Group control was established at the Army/R.A.F. Group Headquarters, although final Air Force decisions were made by the A.O.C. No. 38 Group at his Headquarters, MARKS HALL, ESSEX.


    The Flight Plan
    25. The flight plan was drawn up by the planning staff of 38 Group at MARKS HALL, ESSEX and full details were given to 2nd T.A.F., 21st ARMY GROUP and the CANADIAN ARMY so that formations concerned could be properly notified.

    26. The aircraft were routed in overland over our own troops from the South, returning to U.K. bases direct from Northern HOLLAND. Allied anti-aircraft defences over the route were restricted for the night of the operations. A route Diagram is given at Appendix 'A'.


    Timing
    27. It was arranged that the time interval between aircraft on the same Dropping Zone should be ten minutes. Where jeeps were being dropped as well, the time interval between the last paratroop aircraft and the first jeep dropping aircraft should be one hour.


    Navigational Aids
    28. Normal navigational aids were available throughout the flight. No special beacons were set up. As there was insufficient time to arrange special deployment of Gee Stations, the Gee cover in the area was therefore poor.

    29. The method of navigation to be employed was by normal Dead Reckoning as far as ENSCHEDE, turning onto 'C' Lattice line on the MUNSTER Gee Chain and "homing" onto the Dropping Zone. It was arranged that aircraft dropping troops, containers and simulators should, if necessary, be allowed to drop "blind" on Gee fixes. All aircraft dropping Jeeps, however, were not to drop "blind" but had to identify the normal reception lights. These were to consist of three white lights in the form of a "T" plus one white light on the downwind and flashing the code letter.

    30. The code letters for the various Dropping Zones were as follows:-
    AMHERST 3 - Flashing - A-ABLE
    AMHERST 8 - Flashing - C-CHARLIE
    AMHERST 11 - Flashing - M-MIKE
    AMHERST 12 - Flashing - O-OBOE
    AMHERST 13 - Flashing - R-ROBERT
    AMHERST 23 - Flashing - N-NUTS


    Dropping Zones
    31. Dropping Zones were chosen jointly by the planning staffs of S.A.S. Troops and No. 38 Group. The reception lights for the jeep dropping aircraft were to be organised by the troops dropped blind on the same Dropping Zone.


    Re-supply
    32. The operations were planned to take place only if the Army Commander was certain that the troops would be relieved by our own ground forces within 48 hours of drop. S.A.S. Troops did not wish to plan re-supply, either automatic or emergency. At the first Conference, the Air Force representatives pointed out that since the aircraft were available for re-supply, then re-supply arrangements should be made. It was agreed that daylight re-supply by fighter aircraft was the only useful method under the circumstances, and these were arranged to be carried out by aircraft of No. 84 Group, ROYAL AIR FORCE.


    Operation Orders
    33. The Air Operation Orders were issued in signal form by Headquarters No. 38 Group, ROYAL AIR FORCE, and later supplemented and amended as the situation altered.


    Dates and Times
    34. The Operation Orders were issued on the 5th April 1945, and aircrew briefing followed immediately. Detailed briefing was to be made at 1600 hours on the day of the Operation when stick Commanders were to attend. The first possible night for the Operation was to be 6/7th April and could be postponed as the situation warranted.
     
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    III. EXECUTION

    Sources of Information
    35. Information derives mainly from the daily Operation Room reports at Headquarters No. 38 Group and aircrew interrogations. In addition, valuable information has been obtained regarding the results of the drops from a Report on Operation 'AMHERST' by Brigadier J.M. CALVERT, D.S.O., Commander S.A.S. Troops. If possible, the 38 Group report should be read in conjunction with Brigadier CALVERT's report.


    Operation 'AMHERST'
    36. It was apparent on the morning of the 6th April 1945, that the CANADIAN ARMY was advancing more rapidly than had been expected and that certain of the Dropping Zones as planned were liable to be overrun or at least on the edge of the "bomb-line". Accordingly, A.O.C. No. 38 Group sent a signal to A.O.C. No. 84 Group asking him to ensure that the Dropping Zones were clear when the Operation should be definitely ordered. A representative from No. 38 Group was sent to No. 84 Group to tie up details and remain until the Operation was completed or cancelled.

    37. At midday on April 6th, information was received postponing the Operation for 24 hours, and orders were issued by No. 38 Group calling for the Operation on the night of the 7/8th April. This was confirmed by No. 38 Group's representative with No. 84 Group.

    38. A special bomb-line was ordered and it was agreed by the CANADIAN ARMY that troops would not cross this in time period 072100B hours to 080600B hours. At the same time, it was decided that major deception was not essential and that any support would be mainly to shield our own aircraft. Further, an undertaking was received from the CANADIAN ARMY restricting our own flak during the period 072100B hours to 080600B hours.

    39. On the morning of the 7th April, the CANADIAN ARMY had overrun part of the area of Operations and three Dropping Zones were cancelled accordingly, as they were within the bomb-line. The final bomb-line effective between 072100B hours to 080600B hours was as follows:-

    Z.9307 road to V.1010 road to V.1613 road to V.0945 road to
    V.1946 road to V.2551 road to V.2459 road to V.3660 road to
    V.4265 road to V.5575 road to V.5672 road to railway V.7065
    railway to V.7273 road to V. 8571 road to V.7856 road to V.8353.

    40. On the night of the Operation, the weather forecast gave low stratus and fog over the Dropping Area. Accordingly, No. 38 Group sent a signal to CANADIAN ARMY, No. 84 Group and 2nd T.A.F. stating that owing to the bad conditions, the drop would have to be made from 1,500 feet above cloud and fog and warned them that the troops might land anywhere within a radius of three miles of the correct Dropping Zones.

    41. This risk was accepted for the Troops, but since the reception lights for the jeeps would not be visible from the air, the jeep drop was cancelled.

    42. Weather conditions were as forecast, the crews finding the ground obscured by low stratus and fog up to 2,000 feet and the Troops were dropped on Gee fixes.

    43. Forty-seven (47) Stirling aircraft were detailed to drop Troops, containers and simulators. Forty-six (46) made successful drops on the night of the 7/8th, and the remaining aircraft dropped its party on the night of the 8/9th April. The jeeps intended to be dropped were flown to an airfield in the CANADIAN Area on the 8th April and driven overland into the area of Operations. All aircraft returned safely to their bases.


    Results
    44. The S.A.S. Troops have produced details of the positions at which the Troops were actually dropped and a copy of the S.A.S list of positions of drop and intended Dropping Zones is given at Appendix 'B'.

    45. To summarise the results, the following information is given:-

    6 aircraft dropped their load on, or within negligible distance of Drop Zone.
    30 aircraft dropped their load within 6 miles of the Drop Zone.
    7 aircraft dropped their load more than 6 miles and less than 12 miles off the Drop Zone.
    1 aircraft dropped their load more than 11 miles off the Drop Zone.
    3 of the parties dropped, but no details of position are known.

    The average error was about 3 1/2 miles. A map showing where Paratroops landed is at Appendix 'C'.

    46. Allowing for the fact that there was insufficient time to arrange special deployment of Gee Stations, and the poor Gee cover in the area, the above results are considered satisfactory.


    Deception
    47. A large scale force deception was not employed, but simulators (dummy parachutists) were dropped after release of paratroops and containers.

    48. The simulators had not been used since the invasion of NORMANDY and unfortunately there was not time to train ground or aircrews in the operation of these devices. The simulators, which are released from small bomb containers, did not arrive till the Troops were about to emplane and some hasty loading was necessary.

    49. Aircrew report that some simulators detonated almost immediately after release. Investigation have shown that the simulators were released while the parachute strops and the strop guard (on the Stirling aircraft) were still trailing below the aircraft. On striking the strops and strop guard, some simulators were detonated under the tail of the aircraft.


    Operation 'KEYSTONE'
    50. Although it had been planned that Operation 'KEYSTONE' might possibly take place simultaneously with Operation 'AMHERST', a signal was received from No. 84 Group (Main) on the 7th April stating that it would not take place until the nit of the 8/9th April and probably the 9/10th April. Subsequently, the Operation was postponed until the night of the 11/12th April 1945.

    51. Eight (8) aircraft were detailed, five (5) Stirlings and three (3) Halifaxes. It was arranged that the Stirlings should report by W/T on whether or not they found reception on Dropping Zones, and the jeep dropping Halifaxes could then be recalled if no reception was found.

    52. The Stirlings took off as scheduled by at 23.36 hours, the first Stirling, and at 23.59, the second Stirling, both signalled "Abandoned Operations". It had been arranged that both Stirling and Halifax aircraft would drop only if contact was made with the ground parties dropped on Operation "AMHERST".

    53. The three (3) Halifaxes were therefore recalled. This was justified by the fact that at 00.18 hours the third Stirling on the Dropping Zone scheduled to receive jeeps signalled that he, too, had abandoned operations.

    54. Arrangements were therefore made to carry out the operation on the following night, but on the night of the 12/13th April, similar conditions prevailed, and the Stirling aircraft were again forced to abandon operations. Operation 'KEYSTONE' was cancelled due to bad weather, and no results can be assessed.


    Signals
    55. Signals equipment worked satisfactorily and Gee was found to be reasonably satisfactory having regard to the poor positioning of the Gee stations. Reports show that jamming was slight and did not unduly worry the navigators. It is true to state that the drops could not have been made with the degree of accuracy that was obtained, without the assistance of Gee.

    56. The signals organisation as planned was completely satisfactory, and W/T communication with aircraft was 100% successful.


    Ground Situation
    57. The ground fighting went reasonably well and a very thorough description is given in Brigadier CALVERT's report on Operation 'AMHERST'. On April 10th, it was obvious that some 50% of the FRENCH would not be overrun by the CANADIAN ARMY within 72 hours. Brigadier CALVERT suggested that some of the POLISH Forces operating with the CANADIAN ARMY be deflected, but the CANADIAN ARMY decided against this. The results were satisfactory. Casualties were twenty-eight (28) Killed, thirty-nine (39) Wounded and fifty-seven (57) Missing.

    58. The enthusiasm of the S.A.S. Troops is beyond praise and the complete Operation was accepted as successful. To quote from Brigadier CALVERT's report and to illustrate the courage of the French "some other men were last seen disappearing in the direction of BERLIN, hot foot after the enemy."


    No. 38 Group Casualties
    59. It is significant to note that there were no casualties in No. 38 Group, ROYAL AIR FORCE.
     
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    IV. LESSONS LEARNED

    Planning
    60. Operation 'AMHERST' and Operation 'KEYSTONE' were planned to drop S.A.S. Troops in HOLLAND. First intimation of the Operations was received from S.H.A.E.F. on the 1st April, and they were capable of execution on the night of 6/7th April.

    61. This time could have been speeded up and it is fair to assume that an airborne operation of this kind could be planned and executed in 48 to 60 hours, provided the ARMY and AIR FORCE plan and control the Operation from one Headquarters.


    Troops Employed
    62. The troops employed for Operation 'AMHERST' were French. Many of these Troops had taken part in clandestine operations in FRANCE, BELGIUM and HOLLAND and were all well versed with their duties on the ground for which they had been highly trained. However, emplaning and equipment fitting drill would have been eased if they had had more practice on the subject.

    63. In the past, they had been trained to a standard sufficient only to take part in small scale operations in which there was time and opportunity to assist and supervise their fitting of parachutes, leg-bags and emplaning. The numbers involved on this Operation did not permit organised assistance to individuals in arranging kit and parachutes. The language difficulty did not ease the situation and there was much last-minute rushing about and impromptu briefing, which might easily have upset the timing of the Operation. The aircrew, who are not specially trained in fitting paratroop equipment, gave every assistance and greatly helped the troops to be ready in time.

    64. It is recommended that non-British Troops be given greater ground training in the essential knowledge of emplaning and fitting of paratroop equipment.


    Re-supply
    65. It was thought the re-supply would not be necessary for the success of the Operation. However, it subsequently proved that re-supply was required and may have played an important part in the success of the French. They had expected the CANADIAN ARMY to relieve them within 48 hours. In fact they were not relieved until considerably after that.

    66. Re-supply for airborne troops must always be planned, even when the plan does not indicate that re-supply will be necessary.


    Dropping Zones
    67. Final decision as to Dropping Zones were not made until 1100 hours on D Day. This made briefing of paratroops and aircrews a very difficult matter. It is recommended that a small committee composed of ARMY and AIR FORCE personnel should continually be reconnoitring Dropping Zones in advance of the advancing Army so that immediate decisions may be taken and an Operation of this nature launched within 36 hours.


    Simulators
    68. Some of the simulators (dummy parachutists) were both fitted and dropped from the aircraft incorrectly. This was due to lack of experience in the ground and aircrews concerned. It is essential that both ground and aircrews receive instruction in the operation of simulators some time before they are used on operations.


    Paratroop Teams
    69. The paratroops were organised into teams, each team being self supporting and intended to operate separately. In addition there were teams detailed to operate in the jeeps which were to be dropped from the Halifax aircraft.

    70. All troops were dropped from Stirling aircraft while the jeeps were to be dropped from Halifax aircraft. The crews of this Operation had not been trained to drop a jeep and paratroops together. It was therefore necessary to drop the jeep teams from Stirling aircraft and then drop the jeeps from Halifax aircraft to reception lights laid out by the personnel already dropped.

    71. It is recommended that in the future, where jeeps are to be dropped, paratroop teams should be dropped with them, thereby avoiding the necessity or reception for the jeep dropping aircraft.

    72. When paratroops are dropped at night, it is imperative that the troops be dropped in as short a stick as possible in order that they may link up quickly on the ground. The S.A.S. Troops wished to drop the men from each aircraft in two sticks, each stick being a complete combatant team. In many cases two teams were required to drop on one Dropping Zone. This meant that the aircraft had to make at least two circuits in order to drop the Troops on the same Dropping Zone. By dropping in two short sticks, a much better concentration of troops is obtained in each stick. On operations at night there can be no guarantee that the second stick will be dropped sufficiently accurately to make contact with the first stick.

    73. No. 38 Group advised against the dropping in two separate sticks for the following reasons:-
    (i) Impossible to guarantee the drop of two sticks of troops in exactly the same place, even under ideal conditions.

    (ii) If the weather was poor, then the chances of making two accurate drops would be even smaller.

    (iii) Greater vulnerability of paratroop aircraft to enemy ack-ack.

    (iv) In the event of the drop having to be made "blind" on a Gee fix, then the degree of accuracy would make the second drop on the same place as the first drop almost an impossibility.

    (v) Security would be prejudiced by a second run over same Drop Zone.

    74. The Commander, S.A.S. Troops decided to drop the troops in two short sticks in quick succession, while the aircraft made one run over the Dropping Zone.


    Blind Paratroop Dropping
    75. On Operation 'AMHERST', paratroops were dropped "blind" on Gee fixes. The Commander, S.A.S. Troops was told the error that could be expected would probably be in the neighbourhood of 3 miles. In fact, the average error was about 3 1/2 miles, and his included one gross error of nearly 28 miles, which can be attributed to human error rather than instrument error.

    76. The target area was badly placed for Gee coverage, and as the angle of cut of the lattice lines was 16 degrees, an accuracy of approximately 3 miles only could be hoped for at that range. Target co-ordinates were carefully calculated so as to avoid any unnecessary error.

    77. Under the best possible Gee conditions, with an angle of cut of lattice lines of 90 degrees, the accuracy would be in the neighbourhood of 100 yards. However, this would involve the setting up of a special Gee Chain in the area of operations which would take anything from one to six months, according to the area.

    78. To sum up, where paratroops are being dropped "blind", with no assistance from the ground, Gee is considered the best possible navigational aid at present stage of development, the error depending on location of Gee Stations and subsequent Gee cover and the area of operations.
     
  9. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Appendix 'A' - Route Diagram.
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  10. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Appendix 'B' - Details of Paratroop Drops giving discrepancies etc.

    Appendix B to No. 38 Group, ROYAL AIR FORCE
    Report on Operation 'AMHERST' and 'KEYSTONE'.
    DETAILS OF PARATROOP DROPS
    NIGHT 7/8th APRIL

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    [​IMG]

    Additional Data
    Aircraft employed - 47
    Containers dropped - SAS 189; SOE 30
    Simulators dropped - 143
    Jedburgh team personnel dropped - 4

    NOTE: The above information was extracted from Report by Brigadier J.M. CALVERT, D.S.O. on Operation 'AMHERST'.
     
  11. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Appendix 'C' - Map showing where paratroops landed.
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  12. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Reduced Scale Map showing Area of Operations.
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  13. JJHH

    JJHH Member

    This is very useful information for a book that I'm working on. Thank you for posting. Do you have this in a word or pdf-file? Could you send it to me?
     
  14. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Sorry I don't.
    Why not copy and paste into a doc. of your own?
     
  15. JJHH

    JJHH Member

    No problem, I'll copy it. Thanks again!
     
  16. JJHH

    JJHH Member

    Would you happen to know the page number of the part below, in part 3 EXECUTION? I'd like to refer in my manuscript to the exact page.. Thanks!

    '41. This risk was accepted for the Troops, but since the reception lights for the jeeps would not be visible from the air, the jeep drop was cancelled.'
     
  17. Pen and Dagger

    Pen and Dagger Junior Member

    Thanks very much. Could not see/ open the appendices, pitty
     
  18. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Aixman likes this.

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