Special Operations

Operation Tombola (1945)

During World War II, Operation Tombola was a major Special Air Service raid on German rear areas in Italy.

Fifty men parachuted on Cusna Mountain area (Reggio Emilia) between 4 and 24 March 1945, under command of Major Roy Farran. A number of air drops provided weapons for the rag-tag force which armed local resistance fighters and linked up with seventy escaped Russians.

They were able to attack German LI Corps headquarters, based at two villas in Botteghe d’Albinea in the hills above Reggio Emilia; in that attack the night of 27 March 1945 Germans had 60 casualties (killed and wounded), SAS and Partisans 3 killed in actions and about 7 wounded. The attack was done on the sound of a bagpipe. Operation Tombola continued and the raid included cut roads and shell a number of installations. Just as important as the 300 or so Germans killed and 200 captured was the number of defenders taken from other duties to secure the rear area. A number of allied airmen, who were being hidden by civilians in the area, were also returned to friendly lines.


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