We’re in North Africa in this episode of the podcast.
The War in the desert was full of ups and downs for both Axis and Allies. In January 1941 Tobruk fell to the Allies. With the arrival of Rommel the Allies were forced back and Tobruk held out under siege for seven months, depriving the Axis of a vital supply port, before being relieved as the Allies once more swept forward. Only for it to fall in June 1942 to Rommel.
Though the British Army had expected to sacrifice Tobruk, to the public at home it was a huge shock. The war had not been going well, not helped with entry of the Japanese and the fall of Singapore.
It was now Churchill wanted action, he wanted good news to report to Parliament, the British people and their new Allies the USA who had entered the war.
The Special Interrogation Group (SIG) was the most exceptional of Special Forces. Created to raid behind enemy lines posing as German troops, the SIG was largely made up of German Jews who were all too aware of the dangers they faced – capture meant either death or deportation to a concentration camp. In 1942, Operation Agreement saw the SIG tasked with taking part in a raid on Tobruk, where they were to make up the land-based element of the attack. Disguised as POWs under escort by German-speaking SIGs the group covered close to 1,700 miles of desert to reach their target. The ruse worked perfectly and the SIG went on to destroy a number of coastal guns before eventually being overwhelmed by Axis forces.
This is the history of the SIG, revealing startling details about the group and offering moving insights into the Jewish volunteers putting their lives on the line to fight against the evils of Nazism.
Operation Agreement was a daring raid on Tobruk in September 1942. Taking part were the Long Range Desert Group, the SAS, the Special Interrogation Group, the Royal Navy, the RAF… Everyone was in the act…
I’m joined by John Sadler.
Johns book “Operation Agreement: Jewish Commandos and the raid on Tobruk” tells the story of the operation.