Calcutta Light Horse-Operation Creek

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Operation Creek (also known as “Operation Longshanks”) was a military operation undertaken by the British in World War Two on 9 March 1943.

Organized by the Special Operations Executive (SOE), the Calcutta Light Horse regiment was deployed to attack the German ship Ehrenfels, anchored in the Portuguese, hence neutral, Mormugao harbor in Goa, Portuguese India.

The Calcutta Light Horse was raised in 1872 and formed part of the Cavalry Reserve in the British Indian Army. The regiment was disbanded following India’s independence in 1947.Most of them had already volunteered for active duty and been rejected, and all of them were discontent–they did not like being left out of the war. They still trained regularly and enthusiastically, but any hope of seeing real action was gradually fading away.

For decades the Calcutta Light Horse, was more a social club than territorial regiment. The unit’s last military action had taken place in the Boer War almost 50 years earlier.

Ehrenfels became a target when it was discovered that she was transmitting information on Allied ship movements to German submarines, which played a part in the sinking of 12 Allied ships in the Indian Ocean in early Mar 1943.

The Germans had a secret transmitter on one of tthe Ehrenfels, a freighter that had sought refuge with two other German vessels, the Braunfels and the Drachenfels, in the neutral harbour of Goa on the outbreak of WW2

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The Calcutta Light Horse regiment sailed aboard the barge Phoebe and sailed from Calcutta to Goa. Upon reaching Mormugao harbor in the night of 9 Mar 1943, the men of the regiment infiltrated the German ship and detonated explosives.

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When British intelligence received word of the successful destruction of Ehrenfels, it sent an open message to announce that the British was about to invade Goa, which was a bluff. The crews of the other two German ships at Mormugao, Drachenfels and Braunfels, along with several Italian ships also present, scuttled their own ships to prevent British capture.

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The operation was later the inspiration for the movie “the Seawolves”

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SS Navemar-The ship built for 15, but carried close to 1200

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SS Navemar was a cargo steamship that was built in England in 1921, was Norwegian-owned until 1927 and then Spanish-owned for the rest of her career. An Italian submarine sank her in the Strait of Gibraltar in 1942.

Navemar is notable for a voyage in 1941 in which she carried about 1,120 European Jewish refugees to the United States in overcrowded and insanitary conditions.

In 1941, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (known as “The Joint”) were desperate to rescue Jewish refugees from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia escaping Nazi persecution.

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Many held US visas that were about to expire. The Joint’s agents directed them to Seville, where the Navemar had been privately chartered to make the transatlantic crossing. Tickets for the few passenger cabins sold at exorbitant prices. The captain vacated his cabin and charged $2,000 to all who could fit themselves into the small space.Bunks were fitted in the filthy cargo holds, which had previously carried coal.Although attempts were made to clean the ship, there was too little time to complete the task.

Navemar left Seville on 6 August 1941. She called at Lisbon in Portugal, where many of the visas were extended by the US Embassy. After calling at Havana in Cuba she reached New York on 12 September 1941. Many of the passengers had contracted typhus and six of them died in the seven-week crossing,and a seventh died upon arrival in New York.

After her refugee voyage Navemar returned to general trade. On 23 January 1942 the Marcello-class Italian submarine Barbarigo torpedoed and sank her in the Strait of Gibraltar.

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