Early moves in North Africa, 1940-41

Early moves in North Africa, 1940-41

Early moves in North Africa, 1940-41

This map shows the course of the first two offensives in North Africa in 1940-41 - Graziani's limited advance into Egypt and Wavell's first dramatic victory.


How African-Americans Lived in the 1940s

In the 1940s, African-Americans faced considerable obstacles in their everyday lives due to Jim Crow laws and unwritten, racially biased social codes. These laws and behaviors created strictly segregated barriers, and discrimination pervaded most areas of life. Despite these ongoing hardships, the 1940s was a time of creativity, increased economic opportunity and the beginning of the modern civil rights movement.

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The Special Air Service began life in July 1941, during the Second World War, from an unorthodox idea and plan by Lieutenant David Stirling (of the Scots Guards) who was serving with No. 8 (Guards) Commando. His idea was for small teams of parachute-trained soldiers to operate behind enemy lines to gain intelligence, destroy enemy aircraft, and attack their supply and reinforcement routes. Following a meeting with Major-General Neil Ritchie, the Deputy Chief of Staff, he was granted an appointment with the new Commander-in-Chief Middle East, General Claude Auchinleck. Auchinleck liked the plan and it was endorsed by the Army High Command. At that time, there was already a deception organisation in the Middle East area, which wished to create a phantom airborne brigade to act as a threat to enemy planning. This deception unit was named K Detachment Special Air Service Brigade, and thus Stirling's unit was designated L Detachment Special Air Service Brigade.

The force initially consisted of five officers and 60 other ranks. [2] Following extensive training at Kabrit camp, by the River Nile, L Detachment undertook its first operation, Operation Squatter. This parachute drop behind Axis lines was launched in support of Operation Crusader. During the night of 16/17 November 1941, L Detachment attacked airfields at Gazala and Timimi. Due to Axis resistance and adverse weather conditions, the mission was a disaster with 22 men killed or captured (one-third of the men). [3] Given a second opportunity L Detachment recruited men from Layforce Commando, which was in the process of disbanding. Their second mission was more successful transported by the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG), they attacked three airfields in Libya, destroying 60 aircraft without loss. [3]

In October 1941, David Stirling had asked the men to come up with ideas for insignia designs for the new unit. Bob Tait, who had accompanied Stirling on the first raid, produced the winning entry: the flaming sword of Excalibur, the legendary weapon of King Arthur. This motif would later be misinterpreted as a winged dagger. In regard to mottoes, "Strike and Destroy" was rejected as being too blunt. "Descend to Ascend" seemed inappropriate since parachuting was no longer the primary method of transport. Finally, Stirling settled on "Who Dares Wins," which seemed to strike the right balance of valour and confidence. SAS pattern parachute wings, designed by Lieutenant Jock Lewes and depicted the wings of a scarab beetle with a parachute. The wings were to be worn the right shoulder upon completion of parachute training. After three missions, they were worn on the left breast above medal ribbons. The wings, Stirling noted, "Were treated as medals in their own right." [4]

1942 Edit

Their first mission in 1942 was an attack on Bouerat. Transported by the LRDG, they caused severe damage to the harbour, petrol tanks and storage facilities. [5] This was followed up in March by a raid on Benghazi harbour with limited success although the raiding party did damage 15 aircraft at Al-Berka. [5] The June 1942 Crete airfield raids at Heraklion, Kasteli, Tympaki and Maleme significant damage was caused but of the attacking force at Heraklion only Major George Jellicoe returned. [6] In July 1942, Stirling commanded a joint SAS/LRDG patrol that carried out raids at Fuka and Mersa Matruh airfields destroying 30 aircraft. [7]

September 1942 was a busy month for the SAS. They were renamed 1st SAS Regiment and consisted of four British squadrons, one Free French Squadron, one Greek Squadron, and the Special Boat Section (SBS). [8]

Operations they took part in included Operation Agreement and the diversionary raid Operation Bigamy. Bigamy, which was led by Stirling and supported by the LRDG, was an attempt at a large-scale raid on Benghazi to destroy the harbour and storage facilities and to attack the airfields at Benina and Barce. [9] However, they were discovered after a clash at a roadblock. With the element of surprise lost, Stirling decided not to go ahead with the attack and ordered a withdrawal. [9] Agreement was a joint operation by the SAS and the LRDG who had to seize an inlet at Mersa Sciausc for the main force to land by sea. The SAS successfully evaded enemy defences assisted by German-speaking members of the Special Interrogation Group and captured Mersa Sciausc. The main landing failed, being met by heavy machine gun fire forcing the landing force and the SAS/LRDG force to surrender. [10] Operation Anglo, a raid on two airfields on the island of Rhodes, from which only two men returned. Destroying three aircraft, a fuel dump and numerous buildings, the surviving SBS men had to hide in the countryside for four days before they could reach the waiting submarine. [11] [Note 1]

1943 Edit

David Stirling, who was by that time sometimes referred to as the "Phantom Major" by the Germans, [ citation needed ] was captured in January 1943 in the Gabès area by a special anti-SAS unit set up by the Germans. [13] He spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war, escaping numerous times before being moved to the supposedly 'escape proof' Colditz Castle. [13] He was replaced as commander 1st SAS by Paddy Mayne. [14] In April 1943, the 1st SAS was reorganised into the Special Raiding Squadron under the command of Mayne and the Special Boat Squadron under the command of George Jellico. [15] The Special Boat Squadron operated in the Aegean and the Balkans for the remainder of the war and was disbanded in 1945.

The Special Raiding Squadron spearheaded the invasion of Sicily Operation Husky and played more of a commando role raiding the Italian coastline, from which they suffered heavy losses at Termoli. [13] After Sicily they went on to serve in Italy with the newly formed 2nd SAS, a unit which had been formed in Algeria in May 1943 by Stirling's older brother Lieutenant Colonel Bill Stirling. [13]

The 2nd SAS had already taken part in operations in support of the Allied landings in Sicily. Operation Narcissus was a raid by 40 members of 2nd SAS on a lighthouse on the southeast coast of Sicily. The team landed on 10 July with the mission of capturing the lighthouse and the surrounding high ground. Operation Chestnut involved two teams of ten men each, parachuted into northern Sicily on the night of 12 July, to disrupt communications, transport and the enemy in general.

On mainland Italy they were involved in Operation Begonia which was the airborne counterpart to the amphibious Operation Jonquil. From 2 to 6 October 1943, 61 men were parachuted between Ancona and Pescara. The object was to locate escaped prisoners of war in the interior and muster them on beach locations for extraction. Begonia involved the interior parachute drop by 2nd SAS. Jonquil entailed four seaborne beach parties from 2nd SAS with the Free French SAS Squadron as protection. Operation Candytuft was a raid by 2nd SAS on 27 October. Inserted by boat on Italy's east coast between Ancona and Pescara, they were to destroy railroad bridges and disrupt rear areas.

Near the end of the year the Special Raiding Squadron reverted to their former title 1st SAS and together with 2nd SAS were withdrawn from Italy and placed under command of the 1st Airborne Division. [16]

1944 Edit

In March 1944, the 1st and 2nd SAS Regiments returned to the United Kingdom and joined a newly formed the SAS Brigade of the Army Air Corps. The other units in the Brigade were the French 3rd and 4th SAS, the Belgian 5th SAS and F Squadron which was responsible for signals and communications, the brigade commander was Brigadier Roderick McLeod. [16] The brigade was ordered to swap their beige SAS berets for the maroon parachute beret and given shoulder titles for 1, 2, 3 and 4 SAS in the Airborne colours. The French and Belgian regiments also wore the Airborne Pegasus arm badge. [17] The brigade now entered a period of training for their participation in the Normandy Invasion. They were prevented from conducting operations until after the start of the invasion by 21st Army Group. Their task was then to stop German reinforcements reaching the front line, [18] by being parachuted behind the lines to assist the French Resistance. [19]

In support of the invasion 144 men of 1st SAS took part in Operation Houndsworth between June and September, in the area of Lyon, Chalon-sur-Saône, Dijon, Le Creusot and Paris. [18] At the same time, 56 men of 1st SAS also took part in Operation Bulbasket in the Poitiers area. They did have some success before being betrayed. Surrounded by a large German force, they were forced to disperse later, it was discovered that 36 men were missing and that 32 of them had been captured and executed by the Germans. [18]

In mid-June, 178 men of the French SAS and 3,000 members of the French resistance took part in Operation Dingson. However, they were forced to disperse after their camp was attacked by the Germans. [18] The French SAS were also involved in Operation Cooney, Operation Samwest and Operation Lost during the same period. [20]

In August, 91 men from the 1st SAS were involved in Operation Loyton. The team had the misfortune to land in the Vosges Mountains at a time when the Germans were preparing to defend the Belfort Gap. As a result, the Germans harried the team. The team also suffered from poor weather that prevented aerial resupply. Eventually, they broke into smaller groups to return to their own lines. During the escape, 31 men were captured and executed by the Germans.

Also in August, men from 2nd SAS operated from forest bases in the Rennes area in conjunction with the resistance. Air resupply was plentiful and the resistance cooperated, which resulted in carnage. The 2nd SAS operated from the Loire through to the forests of Darney to Belfort in just under six weeks. [21]

Near the end of the year, men from 2nd SAS were parachuted into Italy to work with the Italian resistance in Operation Tombola, where they remained until Italy was liberated. [22] At one point, four groups were active deep behind enemy lines laying waste to airfields, attacking convoys and derailing trains. Towards the end of the campaign, Italian guerrillas and escaped Russian prisoners were enlisted into an 'Allied SAS Battalion' which struck at the German main lines of communications. [23]

1945 Edit

In March the former Chindit commander, Brigadier Mike Calvert took over command of the brigade. [22] The 3rd and 4th SAS were involved in Operation Amherst in April. The operation began with the drop of 700 men on the night of 7 April. The teams spread out to capture and protect key facilities from the Germans. They encountered Bergen-Belsen on 15 April 1945. [24]

Still in Italy in Operation Tombola, Major Roy Farran and 2nd SAS carried out a raid on a German Corps headquarters in the Po Valley, which succeeded in killing the corps chief of staff. [21]

The Second World War in Europe ended on 8 May and by that time the SAS brigade had suffered 330 casualties, but it had killed or wounded 7,733 and captured 23,000 of their enemies. [22] Later the same month 1st and 2nd SAS were sent to Norway to disarm the 300,000-strong German garrison and 5th SAS were in Denmark and Germany on counter-intelligence operations. [22] The brigade was dismantled soon afterwards. In September, the Belgian 5th SAS were handed over to the reformed Belgian Army. On 1 October the 3rd and 4th French SAS were handed over to the French Army and on 8 October the British 1st and 2nd SAS regiments were disbanded. [19]

At the end of the war, the British Government could see no need for a SAS-type regiment, but in 1946 it was decided that there was a need for a long-term deep penetration commando or SAS unit. A new SAS regiment was raised as part of the Territorial Army. [25] The regiment chosen to take on the SAS mantle was the Artists Rifles. [25] The new 21 SAS Regiment came into existence on 1 January 1947 and took over the Artists Rifles headquarters at Dukes Road, Euston. [26]

In 1950 the SAS raised a squadron to fight in the Korean War. After three months of training, they were informed that the squadron would not, after all, be needed in Korea, and instead were sent to serve in the Malayan Emergency. On arrival in Malaya the squadron came under the command of the wartime SAS Brigade commander, Mike Calvert. They became B Squadron, Malayan Scouts (SAS), [27] the other units were A Squadron, which had been formed from 100 local volunteers mostly ex Second World War SAS and Chindits and C Squadron formed from volunteers from Rhodesia, the so-called 'Happy Hundred'. By 1956 the Regiment had been enlarged to five squadrons with the addition of D Squadron and the Parachute Regiment Squadron. [28] [29] After three years service the Rhodesians returned home and were replaced by a New Zealand squadron. [30]

A Squadron were based at Ipoh while B and C Squadrons were at Johore. During training, they pioneered techniques of resupply by helicopter and also set up the "Hearts and Minds" campaign to win over the locals with medical teams going from village to village treating the sick. With the aid of Iban trackers from Borneo they became experts at surviving in the jungle. [31] In 1951 the Malayan Scouts (SAS) had successfully recruited enough men to form a regimental headquarters, a headquarters squadron and four operational squadrons with over 900 men. [32] The regiment was tasked to seek, find, fix and then destroy the terrorists and prevent their infiltration into protected areas. Their tactics would be long-range patrols, ambush and tracking of the terrorists to their bases. [32] The SAS troops trained and acquired skills in treejumping, which involved parachuting into the thick jungle canopy and letting the parachute catch on the branches brought to a halt, the parachutist then cut himself free and lowered himself to the ground by rope. [31] Using inflatable boats for river patrolling, jungle fighting techniques, psychological warfare and booby trapping terrorist supplies. [32] Calvert was invalided back to the United Kingdom in 1951 and replaced by Lieutenant-Colonel John Sloane. [31]

In February 1951, 54 men from B Squadron carried out the first parachute drop in the campaign in Operation Helsby, which was a major offensive in the River Perak–Belum valley, just south of the Thai border. [33]

The need for a regular army SAS regiment had been recognised, and so the Malayan Scouts (SAS) were renamed 22 SAS Regiment and formally added to the Army List in 1952. [34] However B Squadron was disbanded, leaving just A and D Squadrons in service. [35] [36]

In 1958 the SAS got a new commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony Deane-Drummond. [37] The Malayan Emergency was winding down, so the SAS dispatched two squadrons from Malaya to assist in Oman. In January 1959, A Squadron defeated a large Guerrilla force on the Sabrina plateau. This was a victory that was kept from the public due to political and military sensitivities. [38]

After Oman, 22 SAS Regiment were recalled to the United Kingdom, the first time the regiment had served there since its formation. The SAS were initially barracked in Malvern Worcestershire before moving to Hereford in 1960. [37] Just prior to this, the third SAS regiment was formed and like 21 SAS was part of the Territorial Army. 23 SAS Regiment was formed by the renaming of the Joint Reserve Reconnaissance Unit, which itself had succeeded M.I.9 via a series of units (POW Rescue, Recovery and Interrogation Unit, Intelligence School 9 and the Joint Reserve POW Intelligence Organisation). Behind this change was the understanding that passive networks of escape lines had little place in the Cold War world and henceforth personnel behind the lines would be rescued by specially trained units. [39]

The regiment was sent to Borneo for the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation, where they adopted the tactics of patrolling up to 20 kilometres (12 mi) over the Indonesian border and used local tribesman for intelligence gathering. [38] The troops at times lived in the indigenous tribes' villages for five months thereby gaining their trust. This involved showing respect for the Headman, giving gifts and providing medical treatment for the sick. [40]

In December 1963, the SAS went onto the offensive, now under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel John Woodhouse, adopting a "shoot and scoot" policy to keep SAS casualties to a minimum. [41] They were augmented by the adding to their strength of the Guards Independent Parachute Company and later the Gurkha Independent Parachute Company. [42] In 1964 Operation Claret was initiated, with soldiers selected from the infantry regiments in-theatre, placed under SAS command and known as "Killer Groups". These groups would cross the border and penetrate up to 18 kilometres (11 mi) disrupting the Indonesian Army build-up, forcing the Indonesians to move away from the border. [41] Reconnaissance patrols were used to enter enemy territory to identify supply routes, enemy locations and enemy boat traffic. Captain Robin Letts was awarded the Military Cross for his role in leading a reconnaissance patrol which successfully ambushed the enemy near Babang Baba in April 1965. [43] The Borneo campaign cost the British 59 killed 123 wounded compared to the Indonesian 600 dead. [41] In 1964 B Squadron was re-formed from a combination of former members still with the Regiment and new recruits. [44]

The SAS returned to Oman in 1970. The Marxist-controlled South Yemen government were supporting an insurgency in the Dhofar region that became known as the Dhofar Rebellion. [41] Operating under the umbrella of a British Army Training Team (BATT), the SAS recruited, trained and commanded the local Firquts. Firquts were local tribesmen and recently surrendered enemy soldiers. This new campaign ended shortly after the Battle of Mirbat in 1972, when a small SAS force and Firquts defeated 250 Adoo guerrillas. [ citation needed ]

In 1969 D Squadron, 22 SAS deployed to Northern Ireland for just over a month. The SAS returned in 1972 when small numbers of men were involved in intelligence gathering. The first squadron fully committed to the province was in 1976 and by 1977 two squadrons were operating in Northern Ireland. [45] These squadrons used well-armed covert patrols in unmarked civilian cars. Within a year four terrorists had been killed or captured and another six forced to move south into the Republic. [45] Members of the SAS are also believed to have served in the 14 Intelligence Company based in Northern Ireland. [46]

The first operation attributed to the SAS was the arrest of Sean McKenna on 12 March 1975. McKenna claims he was sleeping in a house just south of the Irish border when he was woken in the night by two armed men and forced across the border, while the SAS claimed he was found wandering in a field drunk. [47] Their second operation was on 15 April 1976 with the arrest and killing of Peter Cleary. Cleary, an IRA staff officer, was detained by five soldiers in a field while waiting for a helicopter to land. While four men guided the aircraft in, Cleary started to struggle with his guard, attempted to seize his rifle and was shot. [48]

The SAS returned to Northern Ireland in force in 1976, operating throughout the province. In January 1977 Seamus Harvey, armed with a shotgun, was killed during a SAS ambush. [49] On 21 June, six men from G Squadron ambushed four IRA men planting a bomb at a government building three IRA members were shot and killed but their driver managed to escape. [50] On 10 July 1978, John Boyle, a sixteen-year-old Catholic, was exploring an old graveyard near his family's farm in County Antrim when he discovered an arms cache. He told his father, who passed on the information to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The next morning Boyle decided to see if the guns had been removed and was shot dead by two SAS soldiers who had been waiting undercover. [51] In 1976 Newsweek also reported that eight SAS men had been arrested in the Republic of Ireland supposedly as a result of a navigational error. It was later revealed that they had been in pursuit of a Provisional Irish Republican Army unit. [45]

The SAS's early successes led to increasing paranoia within Republican circles, as the PIRA hunted for informers they felt certain were in their midst. [52] On 2 May 1980 Captain Herbert Westmacott became the highest-ranking member of the SAS to be killed in Northern Ireland. [53] He was in command of an eight-man plain clothes SAS patrol that had been alerted by the Royal Ulster Constabulary that an IRA gun team had taken over a house in Belfast. [54] A car carrying three SAS men went to the rear of the house, and another car carrying five SAS men went to the front of the house. [55] As the SAS arrived at the front of the house the IRA unit opened fire with an M60 machine gun, hitting Captain Westmacott in the head and shoulder, killing him instantly. [55] The remaining SAS men at the front returned fire, but were forced to withdraw. [54] [55] One member of the IRA team was apprehended by the SAS at the rear of the house, preparing the unit's escape in a transit van, while the other three IRA members remained inside the house. [56] More members of the security forces were deployed to the scene, and after a brief siege, the remaining members of the IRA unit surrendered. [54] After his death, Westmacott was posthumously awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in Northern Ireland during the period 1 February 1980 to 30 April 1980. [57] Some sources say that the terrorists waved a white flag before the siege in an attempt to trick the SAS patrol into thinking they were surrendering. [58]

The SAS Regiment increased their operational focus on Northern Ireland, with a small element known as the Ulster Troop that were permanently stationed in Northern Ireland to provide specialist support to the British Army and RUC. The troop consisted of around 20 operators and associated support personnel, serving on a rotational basis. For larger pre-planned operations, Ulster Troop was reinforced by SAS personnel, often in small 2- or 3-man teams from the Special Projects Team. From 1980, the Troop served twelve-month tours instead of six-month tours, as it was felt that longer deployments allowed the operators to develop and maintain a better understanding of the key factions and senior PIRA terrorists. Surveillance became an important aspect of the Troop, with 14 Intelligence & Security Company (commonly known as "The Det") often carrying out surveillance missions that led to SAS ambushes. [52]

On 4 December 1983, a SAS patrol found two IRA gunmen who were both armed, one with an Armalite rifle and the other a shotgun. These two men did not respond when challenged so the patrol opened fire, killing the two men. A third man who escaped in a car was believed to have been wounded. [59]

The SAS conducted a large number of operations officially called "OP/React": acting on information provided by a range of sources, including informers and technical intelligence. The Det, MI5 and the RUC's E4a surveillance unit would target and track ASU terrorists until a terrorist operation was thought to be imminent at that point, the SAS were handed control and would plan an arrest operation, and if the terrorists were armed and did not comply they would be engaged. In December 1984, a SAS team killed two ASU terrorists who were attempting to assassinate a reserve soldier outside a hospital he worked at. In February 1985, three SAS operators killed three ASU terrorists in Strabane. The terrorists were tasked with attacking a RUC Land Rover with anti-tank grenades, but having failed to find a suitable target they were visiting a weapons cache to store their weapons. There was considerable media speculation during 'the Troubles' and allegations of so-called "shoot-to-kill" policy by the SAS the allegations mainly focus on whether a terrorist could have been captured alive rather than killed. The PIRA never took prisoners except for the worst intentions and after the 1980 death of Captain Westmacott and the death of a SAS member in December 1984, the Regiment appeared to adopt an unofficial policy of what Mark Urban quoted SAS sources as calling "Big boys' games- big boys' rules": if you're an armed terrorist you can expect no quarter to be given. [60]

On 8 May 1987, the SAS conducted Operation Judy which resulted in the IRA/ASU [61] suffering its worst single loss of men, when eight men were killed by the SAS while attempting to attack the Loughgall police station. The SAS had been informed of the attack and 24 men waited in ambush positions around and inside the police station. They opened fire when the armed IRA unit approached the station with a 200 pounds (91 kg) bomb, its fuse lit, in the bucket of a hijacked JCB digger. A civilian passing the incident was also killed by SAS fire. [62]

In the late 1980s the IRA started to move operations to the European mainland. Operation Flavius in March 1988 was a SAS operation in Gibraltar in which three PIRA volunteers, Seán Savage, Daniel McCann and Mairéad Farrell, were killed. All three had conspired to detonate a car bomb where a military band assembled for the weekly changing of the guard at the Governor's residence. [63] In Germany, in 1989 the German security forces discovered a SAS unit operating there without the permission of the German government. [64]

In 1991 three IRA men were killed by the SAS. The IRA men were on their way to kill an Ulster Defence Regiment soldier who lived in Coagh, when they were ambushed. [65] These three and another seven brought the total number of IRA men killed by the SAS in the 1990s to 11. [66]

In the early 1970s, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Edward Heath asked the Ministry of Defence to prepare for any possible terrorist attack similar to the 1972 Munich massacre at the Munich Olympic Games and ordered that the SAS Counter Revolutionary Warfare (CRW) wing be established. [67] In a little over a month the first 20-man SAS Counter Terrorist (CT) unit was ready to respond to any potential incident within the UK or abroad. Originally, it was known as the Pagoda Team (named after Operation Pagoda, the codename for the development of the SAS CT capability) and was initially composed of members from all squadrons, particularly members who had experience in the Regiment's Bodyguarding Cell, but was soon placed under the control of the CRW. [68] Once the wing had been established each squadron would in turn rotate through counter-terrorist training. The training included live firing exercises, hostage rescue and siege breaking. It was reported that during CRW training each soldier would expend 100,000 pistol rounds and would return to the CRW role on average every 16 months. [67] The CRW initially consisted of a single SAS officer tasked with monitoring terrorism developments, but which was soon expanded and trimmed in size to a single troop strength British technical experts developed a number of innovations for the team, including the first "flashbang" or "stun" grenade and the earliest examples of Frangible ammunition. [68]

Home operations Edit

Their first home deployment came on 7 January 1975, when an Iranian armed with a replica pistol hijacked a British Airways BAC One-Eleven that landed at Stansted Airport. The hijacker was captured alive with no shots fired, the only casualty being a SAS soldier who was bitten by a police dog as he left the airliner. [68] The SAS was also deployed during the Balcombe Street Siege, where the Metropolitan Police had trapped a PIRA unit. Hearing on the BBC that the SAS were being deployed the PIRA men surrendered. [67]

Iranian Embassy siege Edit

The Iranian Embassy Siege started at 11:30 on 30 April 1980 when a six-man team calling itself the 'Democratic Revolutionary Movement for the Liberation of Arabistan' (DRMLA) captured the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Prince's Gate, South Kensington in central London. When the group first stormed the building, 26 hostages were taken, but five were released over the following few days. On the sixth day of the siege, the kidnappers killed a hostage. This marked an escalation of the situation and prompted Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's decision to proceed with the rescue operation. The order to deploy the SAS was given, and B Squadron, the duty CRW squadron, were alerted. When the first hostage was shot, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, David McNee, passed a note signed by Thatcher to the Ministry of Defence, stating this was now a "military operation". [69] It was known as Operation Nimrod. [70]

The rescue mission started at 19:23, 5 May when the SAS assault troops at the front gained access to the embassy's first floor balcony via the roof. Another team assembled on the ground floor terrace entered via the rear of the embassy. After forcing entry, five of the six terrorists were killed. Unfortunately, one of the hostages was also killed by the terrorists during the assault which lasted 11 minutes. The events were broadcast live on national television and soon rebroadcast around the world, gaining fame and a reputation for the SAS. [69] Prior to the assault, few outside of the military special operations community even knew of the regiment's existence. [71]

Peterhead prison Edit

On 28 September 1987 a riot in D Wing of Peterhead Prison resulted in prisoners taking over the building and taking a prison officer, 56-year-old Jackie Stuart, hostage. The rioters were serving life in prison for violent crimes. It was thought that they had nothing to lose and would not hesitate to make good on their threats to kill their hostage, who they had now taken up to the rafters of the Scottish prison. When negotiations broke down, the then Home Secretary Douglas Hurd dispatched the SAS to bring the riot to an end on 3 October. The CRW troops arrived by helicopter, landed on the roof and then abseiled into the prison proper. Armed only with pistols, batons and stun grenades they brought the riot to a swift closure. [ citation needed ]

Hijacking of Ariana Afghan Airlines flight 805 Edit

On 6 February 2000, a Boeing 727 operated by Ariana Afghan Airlines was hijacked by a number of Afghan nationals who wished to escape the country and to obtain the release of a Mujahedeen warlord imprisoned by the Taliban. The flight landed at Stansted Airport and the on-call SAS CT team arrived, linked up with armed police and began developing Immediate Action (IA) and Direct Action (DA) plans. Neither were required as the hijackers eventually surrendered. [72]

War on Terror in the UK Edit

In 2005 London was the target of two attacks on 7 July and 21 July. It was reported in Times that the SAS CRW played a role in the capture of three men suspected of taking part in the failed 21 July bomb attacks. The SAS CRW also provided expertise in explosive entry techniques to back up raids by police firearms officers. It was also reported that plain clothes SAS teams were monitoring airports and main railway stations to identify any security weaknesses and that they were using civilian helicopters and two small executive jets to move around the country. [73]

Following the bombings, a small forward element of the CRW was permanently deployed to the capital to provide immediate assistance to the Metropolitan Police Service in the event of a terrorist incident. This unit is supported by its own attached Ammunition technical officer trained in high-risk search and making safe car bombs and improvised explosive devices, along with a technical intelligence cell capable of sophisticated interception of all forms of communication. In particular, after 21 July bombings, several SAS elements trained in explosive methods of entry were dispatched to support the Metropolitan Police firearms unit, and were used to explosively breach two flats where would-be suicide bombers had taken refuge, the police fired CS gas into both premises and negotiated the surrender of all suspects. [74]

The police retain primacy and are the lead in the event of a terrorist attack on British soil, but the military will provide support if requested. If a situation is deemed to be outside the capabilities of police firearms units (such as a requirement for specialist breaching capabilities), the SAS will be called in under the Military Aid to the Civil Authorities legislation. Additionally, some categories of operation-such as the recapture of hijacked airlines or cruise ships, or the recovery of nuclear or radioactive IEDs remain a military responsibility. [75]

The Telegraph reported on 4 June 2017 that following the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017, small numbers of SAS soldiers supported police and accompanied officers on raids around the city. Following the London Bridge attack, a SAS unit nicknamed 'Blue Thunder' arrived after the attack had been ended by armed police. A Eurocopter AS365 N3 Dauphin helicopter landed on London Bridge carrying what a Whitehall source confirmed were carrying SAS troops. [76]

Overseas operations Edit

Nations around the world particularly wanted a counter-terrorism capability like the SAS. The Ministry of Defence and Foreign and Commonwealth Office often loan out training teams from the Regiment, particularly to the Gulf States to train bodyguard teams now focused on CT. The Regiment has also had a long-standing association with the US Army's Delta Force, with the two units often having swapped techniques and tactics, as well as conducting joint training exercises in North America and Europe. Other nations' CT units developed close ties with the Regiment, including the Australian SAS, New Zealand SAS, GSG 9 and GIGN. [77]

The first documented action by the CRW Wing was assisting the West German counter-terrorism group GSG 9 at Mogadishu. [78] Eventually the CRW grew into full squadron strength and included its own support elements-Explosive Ordnance Disposal, search and combat dogs, medics and attached intelligence and targeting cell. [68]

Along with overseas training missions, the Regiment also sends small teams to act as observers and to provide advice or technical input if required at the scenes of terrorist and similar incidents worldwide. [79]

The Gambia Edit

In August 1981 a 2-man SAS team was covertly deployed to The Gambia to help put down a coup. [80] [81]

Colombian conflict Edit

During the late 1980s members of the Regiment were dispatched to Colombia to train Colombian special operations forces in counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics operations. As of 2017, the training teams missions remain classified rumours that SAS operators, with their US counterparts, accompanied Colombian forces on jungle operations, but this hasn't been confirmed. [68]

Waco siege Edit

In 1993, SAS and Delta Force operators were deployed as observers in the Waco siege in Texas. [79]

Air France Flight 8969 Edit

In December 1994, the SAS were deployed as observers when Air France Flight 8969 was hijacked by GIA terrorists, the crisis was eventually resolved by GIGN. [79]

Japanese embassy hostage crisis Edit

In early 1997, six members of the SAS were sent to Peru during the Japanese embassy hostage crisis due to diplomatic personnel being among the hostages and also to observe and advise Peruvian commandos in Operation Chavín de Huántar- the release of hostages by force. [82] [83]

The Falklands War started after Argentina's occupation of the Falkland Islands on 2 April 1982. Brigadier Peter de la Billière the Director Special Forces and Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Rose, the Commander of 22 SAS Regiment, petitioned for the regiment to be included in the task force. Without waiting for official approval D Squadron, which was on standby for worldwide operations, departed on 5 April for Ascension Island. [84] They were followed by G Squadron on 20 April. As both squadrons sailed south the plans were for D Squadron to support operations to retake South Georgia while G Squadron would be responsible for the Falkland Islands. [84] By virtue of a 1981 transfer from A Squadron to G Squadron, John Thompson was the only one of the 55 SAS soldiers involved in the Iranian siege to also see action in the Falklands. [85]

South Georgia Edit

Operation Paraquet was the code name for the first land to be liberated in the conflict. South Georgia is an island to the southeast of the Falkland Islands and one of the Falkland Islands Dependencies. In atrocious weather the SAS, SBS and Royal Marines forced the Argentinian garrison to surrender. On 22 April Westland Wessex helicopters landed a SAS unit on the Fortuna Glacier. This resulted in the loss of two of the helicopters, one on takeoff and one crashed into the glacier in almost zero visibility. [86] The SAS unit were defeated by the weather and terrain and had to be evacuated after only managing to cover 500 metres (1,600 ft) in five hours. [87]

The following night, a SBS section succeeded in landing by helicopter while Boat Troop and D Squadron SAS set out in five Gemini inflatable boats for the island. Two boats suffered engine failure with one crew being picked up by helicopter and the other crew got to shore. The next day, 24 April, a force of 75 SAS, SBS and Royal Marines, advancing with naval gunfire support, reached Grytviken and forced the occupying Argentinians to surrender. The following day the garrison at Leith also surrendered. [86]

Main landings Edit

Prior to the landing eight reconnaissance patrols from G Squadron had been landed on East Falkland between 30 April and 2 May. [88] The main landings were at San Carlos on 21 May. To cover the landings, D Squadron mounted a major diversionary raid at Goose Green and Darwin with fire support from HMS Ardent. While D Squadron was returning from their raid they used a shoulder-launched Stinger missile to shoot down a FMA IA 58 Pucará that had overflown their location. [89] While the main landings were taking place, a four-man patrol from G Squadron had been carrying out a reconnaissance near Stanley. They located an Argentinian helicopter dispersal area between Mount Kent and Mount Estancia. Advising to attack at first light, the resulting attack by RAF Harrier GR3's from No. 1 Squadron RAF destroyed one CH-47 Chinook and the two Aérospatiale Puma helicopters. [90]

Pebble Island Edit

Over the night 14/15 May, D Squadron SAS carried out the raid on Pebble Island airstrip on West Falkland. The force of 20 men from Mountain Troop, D Squadron, led by Captain John Hamilton, destroyed six FMA IA 58 Pucarás, four T-34 Mentors and a Short SC.7 Skyvan transport. The attack was supported by fire from HMS Glamorgan. Under cover of mortar and small arms fire the SAS moved onto the airstrip and fixed explosive charges to the aircraft. Casualties were light, with one Argentinian killed and two of the Squadron wounded by shrapnel when a mine exploded. [91]

Sea King Crash Edit

On 19 May, the SAS suffered its worst loss since the Second World War. A Westland Sea King helicopter crashed while cross-decking troops from HMS Hermes to HMS Intrepid, killing 22 men. Approaching HMS Hermes, it appeared to have an engine failure and crashed into the sea. Only nine men managed to scramble out of a side door before the helicopter sank. Rescuers found bird feathers floating on the surface where the helicopter had hit the water. It is thought that the Sea King was the victim of a bird strike. Of the 22 killed, 18 were from the SAS. [92]

Operation Mikado Edit

Operation Mikado was the code name for the planned landing of B Squadron SAS at the Argentinian airbase at Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego. The initial plan was to crash land two C-130 Hercules carrying B Squadron onto the runway at Port Stanley to bring the conflict to a rapid conclusion. [93] B Squadron arrived at Ascension Island on 20 May, the day after the fatal Sea King crash. They were just boarding the C-130s when word came that the operation had been cancelled. [94]

After Mikado had been cancelled B Squadron were called upon to parachute into the South Atlantic to reinforce D Squadron. They were transported south by the two C-130s equipped with long-range fuel tanks. Only one of the aircraft reached the jump point the other had to turn back with fuel problems. The parachutists were then transported to the Falkland Islands by HMS Andromeda. [95]

West Falkland Edit

Mountain Troop, D Squadron SAS deployed onto West Falkland to observe the two Argentine garrisons. One of the patrols was commanded by Captain John Hamilton who had commanded the raid on Pebble Island. On 10 June, Hamilton and patrol were in an observation point near Port Howard when they were attacked by Argentine forces. Two of the patrol managed to get away but Hamilton and his signaller, Sergeant Fosenka, were pinned down. Hamilton was hit in the back by enemy fire and told Fosenka "you carry on, I'll cover your back". Moments later Hamilton was killed. Sergeant Fosenka was later captured when he ran out of ammunition. The senior Argentine officer praised the heroism of Hamilton who was posthumously awarded the Military Cross. [96]

Wireless Ridge Edit

The last major action for the SAS was a raid on East Falkland on the night of 14 June. This involved a diversionary raid by D and G Squadrons against Argentinian positions north of Stanley, while 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment assaulted Wireless Ridge. Their objective was to set up a mortar and machine gun fire base to provide fire support, while the D Squadron Boat Troop and six SBS men crossed Port William in Rigid Raiders to destroy the fuel tanks at Cortley Hill. After firing Milan and GPMG onto the target areas the ground assault team came under anti-aircraft machine gun fire the water assault group were also hit by a hail of small arms fire, with all their boats hit and three men wounded, forcing them to withdraw. At the same time, the fire base came under an Argentinian artillery and infantry attack. The Argentinian unit had not been seen from the long-range surveillance of the area as they were dug in on the reverse slope. The SAS then had to call upon their own artillery to silence the Argentinian guns to enable G Squadron to withdraw. The raid was to harass the Argentinian ground forces and was a success, but Argentinian artillery continued to land on the SAS assault position and the route the squadron took on its exfiltration for an hour after they had withdrawn and not on the attacking parachute battalion. [97]

Between 1985 and 1989, members of the SAS were dispatched to Southeast Asia to train a number of Cambodian insurgent groups to fight against the People's Army of Vietnam who were occupying Cambodia after ousting the Khmer Rouge regime. The SAS did not directly train any members of the Khmer Rouge, but questions were raised amidst the "murky" factional politics as to the relationship between some of the insurgent groups and the Khmer Rouge. [98]

The Gulf War started after the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq on 2 August 1990. The British military response to the invasion was Operation Granby. General Norman Schwarzkopf was adamant that the use of special operations forces in Operation Desert Storm would be limited. This was due to his experiences in the Vietnam War, where he had seen special operations forces missions go badly wrong, requiring conventional forces to rescue them. Lieutenant-General Peter de la Billière, Schwarzkopf's deputy and former member of the SAS, requested the deployment of the Regiment, despite not having a formal role. [99] The SAS deployed about 300 members with A, B and D Squadrons as well as fifteen members from R Squadron the territorial 22 SAS squadron. [100] This was the largest SAS mobilisation since the Second World War. [100] There was conflict in the Regiment over whether to deploy A or G Squadron to the Gulf. In August 1990, A squadron had just returned from a deployment to Colombia, whereas G Squadron were the logical choice to deploy because they were on SP rotation and had just returned from desert training exercises. However, since A Squadron were not involved in the Falklands War, they were deployed. [101] [79]

De la Billière and the commander of UKSF for Operation Granby planned to convince Schwarzkopf of the need for special operations forces with the rescue of a large number of Western and Kuwaiti civilian workers being held by Iraqi forces as human shields, but in December 1990, Saddam Hussein released the majority of the hostages, however the situation brought the SAS to Schwarzkopf's attention. Having already allowed US Army Special Forces and Marine Force Recon to conduct long-range reconnaissance missions, he was eventually convinced to allow the SAS to also deploy a handful of reconnaissance teams to monitor the Main Supply Routes (MSRs). [102]

Initial plans were for the SAS to carry out their traditional raiding role behind the Iraqi lines, and operate ahead of the allied invasion, disrupting lines of communications. [101] The SAS operated from Al Jawf, on 17 January, 128 members of A and D squadron moved to the frontline [103] there they inserted three road-watch teams into western Iraq to establish observation of the MSR traffic on 18 January 1991, the first eight SCUD-B ballistic missiles with conventional explosive warheads fell on Tel Aviv and Haifa, Israel, it was this attempt to bring Israel into the war to undermine the coalition by shattering the coalition of Arab nations arrayed against Iraq, that was directly responsible for a dramatic increase in operations for the Regiment. On that day they were tasked with hunting Scuds. An operational area, known as "SCUD Box," covered a huge swathe of western Iraq south of main Highway 10 MSR, was allocated to the SAS and nicknamed "SCUD Alley", Delta Force deployed north of Highway 10 in "SCUD Boulevard," two flights of USAF F-15Es on "SCUD Watch" would be their main air support component. Both SAS and Delta operations were initially hampered by delays in bringing strike aircraft onto the often time sensitive targets-a problem only partially alleviated by the placing of special forces liaisons with the US Air Force in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. [104] On 20 January, they were working behind Iraqi lines hunting for Scud missile launchers in the area south of the Amman — Baghdad highway. [105] The patrols working on foot and in landrovers would at times carry out their own attacks, with MILAN missiles on Scud launchers and also set up ambushes for Iraqi convoys, [106]

The half of B squadron in al-Jauf, Saudi Arabia, were given the task of establishing covert observation posts along the MSR in three-eight-man patrols inserted by helicopter. [107] On 22 January three eight-man patrols from B Squadron were inserted behind the lines by a Chinook helicopter. Their mission was to locate Scud launchers and monitor the main supply route. One of the patrols, Bravo Two Zero, had decided to patrol on foot. The patrol was found by an Iraqi unit and, unable to call for help because they had been issued the wrong radio frequencies, had to try to evade capture by themselves. The team under command of Andy McNab suffered three dead and four captured only one man, Chris Ryan, managed to escape to Syria. Ryan made SAS history with the "longest escape and evasion by an SAS trooper or any other soldier", covering 100 miles (160 km) more than SAS trooper John 'Jack' William Sillito, had in the Sahara Desert in 1942. The other patrols, Bravo One Zero and Bravo Three Zero, had opted to use landrovers and take in more equipment returned intact to Saudi Arabia. [108]

Meanwhile, A and D squadron mobile patrols were tracking down SCUDs and destroying them if possible, or vector-in strike aircraft. Both squadrons were equipped with six to eight Desert Patrol Vehicles (DPVs) in four mobile patrols/fighting columns. The mobile patrols used the "mothership" concept to resupply their mounted patrols, along with the DPVs, a number of cut-down Unimog and ACMAT VLRA trucks were infiltrated into the area of operations and served as mobile resupply points, themselves being stocked with fuel, ammunition and water by RAF Chinook drops, this meant that the SAS mobility patrols could effectively stay in the area of operations indefinitely. During one mission an operator reportedly destroyed a SCUD launcher with a vehicle-mounted Milan anti-tank guided missile. An Iraqi Army command-and-control site known as "Victor Two" was attacked by the SAS: SAS operators crept in to the facility and set a batch of demolition charges which were counting down to detonation when they were compromised, the SAS destroyed Iraqi bunkers with Milans and LAW rockets, operators engaging in hand-to-hand combat with Iraqi soldiers. The operators broke cover and braved enemy fire to reach their vehicles and escape before the demolition exploded. Another mounted patrol from D squadron was bedding down for the night in a desert wadi, later they discovered they were camped next to an Iraqi communications facility, they were quickly compromised by an Iraqi soldier walking to their position. A firefight erupted between the SAS and at least two regular Iraqi Army infantry platoons. The patrol managed to break contact after disabling two Iraqi technicals (pick-up trucks) that attempted to pursue them, during the chaos of the firefight a supply Unimog had been immobilised by enemy fire and left behind with no sign of the seven missing crew members. The seven SAS operators (one of whom was severely wounded) had captured a damaged Iraqi technical and drove toward the Saudi Arabian border, eventually the vehicle ground to a halt and the men were forced to travel on foot, after 5 days they reached the border. [109]

The desert units were resupplied by a temporary formation known as E squadron, this were made up of Bedford 4-ton trucks and heavily armed SAS Land Rovers. They drove from Saudi Arabia on 10 February, rendezvousing with SAS units some 86 miles inside Iraq on 12 February, returning to Saudi Arabia on 17 February. [110]

Days before the cessation of hostilities, an SAS operator was shot in the chest and killed in an ambush. The Regiment had operated in Iraq for some 43 days, despite the poor state of mapping, reconnaissance imagery, intelligence and weather additional problems such as the lack of essential kit such as night-vision goggles, TACBE radios and GPS units, they appear to have been instrumental in stopping the SCUDs. There were no further launches after only two days of SAS operations in their assigned "box," despite this, significant questions remain over how many SCUDs were actually destroyed either from the air or on the ground, the Iraqis had deployed large numbers of East German-manufactured decoy vehicles and apparently several oil tankers were erroneously targeted from the air. Despite a US Air Force study arguing that no actual SCUDs were destroyed, the SAS maintain that what they destroyed, often at relative close range, were not decoys and oil tankers. Undoubtedly, the Regiment succeeded in forcing SCUDs to move out of the "SCUD Box" and into north-west Iraq and the increased distances, for an inaccurate and unreliable missile system effectively eliminated the SCUD threat. General Schwarzkopf sent a personal message thanking the Regiment and Delta Force saying "You guys kept Israel out of the war." [111] By the end of the war, four SAS men had been killed and five captured. [112]

The SAS perfected desert mobility techniques during Operation Granby it would influence US Army Special Forces during initial operations in Afghanistan and Iraq a decade later. [113]

Bosnian War Edit

In 1994–95, Lieutenant-General Michael Rose, who had been the CO of 22 SAS and Director Special Forces (DSF) during the 1980s, commanded the United Nations Protection Force mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Needing a realistic appreciation of the situation in a number of UN-mandated "safe areas" that were surrounded by Bosnian-Serb forces, he requested and received elements from both A and D squadrons. The operators deployed with standard British Army uniforms, UN blue berets and SA80 assault rifles to "hide in plain sight" under the official cover as UK Liaison Officers. They established the "ground truth" in the besieged enclaves. As these men were trained as forward air controllers, they were also equipped with laser target designators to guide NATO aircraft should the decision be made to engage Bosnian-Serb forces. [113]

During the Siege of Goražde, an SAS operator in UN dress, was shot and killed as a patrol attempted to survey Bosnian-Serb positions. On 16 April 1994, as part of Operation Deny Flight, a Royal Navy Sea Harrier FRS.1 of 801 NAS flying from HMS Ark Royal was shot down by a Serbian SA-7 SAM but its pilot was rescued by a four-man SAS team operating within Goražde. The same team called in a number of airstrikes on armoured columns entering the city, until they were forced to escape through the lines of encircling Serbian paramilitaries to avoid capture and possible execution. [114]

A two-man SAS reconnaissance team was covertly inserted into the UN "safe area" of Srebrenica where a Dutch UN battalion was supposedly protecting the population and thousands of Bosniak refugees from threatening Bosnian Serb forces. The SAS team attempted to call in airstrikes as Serbian forces attacked but were frustrated by UN bureaucracy and ineptitude, they were finally ordered to withdraw and the city fell to the Bosnian-Serb army led by General Ratko Mladić in July 1995, resulting in the genocidal execution of some 8,000 cilivans. The SAS patrol commander wrote a series of newspaper articles about the tragedy, but was successfully taken to court by the MoD in 2002 to stop the publication. [115]

In the aftermath of the Dayton Agreement in December 1995, the SAS remained active in the region, alongside JSOC units in the hunt for war criminals on behalf of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. One such operation in July 1997 resulted in the capture of one fugitive and the death of another when he opened fired on a plain clothed SAS team. [115] [116] Another wanted war criminal was captured by the Regiment in November 1998 from a remote safehouse in Serbia, he was driven to the Drina river separating Serbia from Bosnia before being transported across in an SAS Zodiac inflatable boat and helicoptered out the country. [115] [117] On 2 December 1998, General Radislav Krstić was travelling in a convoy near the village of Vrsari in the Republika Srpska in northern Bosnia when members of 22 SAS, backed-up by a Navy SEAL unit, blocked off the convoy, disabled Krstić's vehicle with spikes and arrested him. [118]

Reservists were deployed into the Balkans in the mid-1990s as a composite unit known as "V" Squadron where they took part in peace support operations, which allowed regular members of the SAS to be used for other tasks. [119] [ additional citation(s) needed ]

Kosovo War Edit

The SAS deployed D squadron to Kosovo in 1999 to guide airstrikes by NATO aircraft and reconnoitre potential avenues of approach should a NATO ground force be committed. Members of G squadron were later dispatched into Kosovo from Macedonia to conduct advanced-force operations and assist in securing a number of bridgeheads in preparation for the larger NATO incursion. [115]

Following the Kosovo war, KFOR, the NATO-led international peacekeeping force which was responsible for establishing a secure environment in Kosovo. [120]

On 16 February 2001, a large explosive device blew up a coach travelling through Podujevo from Serbia carrying 57 Kosovo Serbs, killing 11 with a further 45 wounded and missing. The coach had been part of a convoy of 5 coaches, escorted by the Swedish military armoured vehicles under British command, the attack took place in a British Brigade Area within hours within hours Serbs within Kosovo formed crowds and began attacking Albanians. On 19 March 2001, 3,000 British and Norwegian troops arrested 22 Albanians suspected in the involvement of the bus attack, G squadron 22 SAS spearheaded the operation, the SAS were specifically requested because it was believed the suspects were armed, the SAS carried out the operation early in the morning, when most of the suspects were asleep. [121]

2001 insurgency in the Republic of Macedonia Edit

In the spring of 2001, fighting between the NLA and Macedonia was intensifying since at least March 2001, SAS teams observed the Kosovo-Macedonian border. Between July and August the violence escalated, the EU set up a peace deal to grant the 600,000 Albanian minority in Macedonia greater political and constitutional rights a multinational NATO mission would also deploy to collect the weapons from the 2,500 NLA rebels. In mid August Several four-man SAS patrols accompanied 35 members of Pathfinder Platoon, 16 Air Assault Brigade, into rebel held areas in northern Macedonia, on 21 August, the paratroopers guided in two British army Lynx helicopters into the village of Šipkovica, who were carrying 3 British NATO leaders that met with rebel leaders to the negotiation of the disarmament. Following the negotiations, Ali Ahmeti, the leader of the NLA remarked that "perhaps discrimination against Albanians has come to an end" the next day the NATO multinational force deployed to Macedonia under Operation Essential Harvest, between 27 August and 27 September they collected 3,000 weapons-successfully disarmed the rebels. [121]

The SAS and the SBS were deployed Sierra Leone in support of Operation Palliser against the Revolutionary United Front. They had been on stand-by to effect the relief of a British Army Major and his team of UN observers from a besieged camp in the jungle additionally, they conducted covert reconnaissance, discovering strengths and dispositions of the rebel forces. [122]

Operation Barras Edit

In 2000, a combined force of D squadron 22 SAS, SBS and men from 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment carried out a hostage rescue operation, code named Operation Barras. The objective was to rescue five members of 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment and a Sierra Leone liaison officer who were being held by a militia group known as the West Side Boys (there was a total of 11 hostages taken but six were released in preceding negotiations). [78] [122] The rescue team transported in three Chinook and one Lynx helicopter mounted a simultaneous two-pronged attack after reaching the militia positions. After a heavy fire fight, the hostages were released and flown back to the capital Freetown. [123] One member of the SAS rescue team was killed during the operation. [124]

Following the September 11 attacks by al-Qaeda in 2001, the U.S. and its allies began the "War on Terror" an international campaign to defeat Islamist terrorism.

War in Afghanistan (2001–present) Edit

Operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda and other terrorists groups in Afghanistan began in October 2001. In mid-October 2001, A and G squadron of 22 SAS (at the time D squadron was SP duty, while B squadron was overseas on a long-term training exercise), reinforced by members of the 21 and 23 SAS, deployed to northwestern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan under the command of CENTCOM. They conducted largely uneventful reconnaissance tasks under the codename Operation Determine, none of these tasks resulted in enemy contact they travelled in Land Rover Desert Patrol Vehicles (known as Pinkies) and modified ATVs. After a fortnight and with missions drying up, both squadrons returned to their barracks in the UK. After political intersession with Prime minister Tony Blair, the SAS were given a direct-action task – the destruction of an al-Qaeda-linked opium plant in southern Afghanistan, their mission was codenamed Operation Trent. Both A and G squadron successfully completed the mission in 4 hours with only 4 soldiers wounded, it marked the regiments first wartime HALO parachute jump and the operation was the largest British SAS operation in history. Following Operation Trent, the SAS were deployed on uneventful reconnaissance tasks in the Dasht-e Margo desert, returning to Hereford in mid-December 2001 however, small numbers of Territorial SAS from both regiments remained in the country to provide close protection for members of MI6. One newspaper fuelled myth was that a British SAS squadron was at the Battle of Tora Bora, in fact, the only UKSF involved in the Battle was the SBS. [125] [126] In mid-December, the SAS escorted a reconnaissance and liaison team on a four-day visit to Kabul. The team was led by Brigadier Barney White-Spunner (commander of 16th Air Assault Brigade), who would assess the logistical challenges, and advise the composition of a UN-mandated force to 'assist in the maintenance of security for Kabul and its surrounding area', also in command of the team was Brigadier Peter Wall (from PJHQ) who would negotiate with the Northern Alliance. [127]

On 7 January 2002, an SAS close-protection team escorted Prime minister Tony Blair and his wife whilst they met with Afghan President Karzai at Bagram Airfield. [128] In 2002 the SAS was involved in operations in the Kwaja Amran mountain range in Ghazni Province and the Hada Hills near Spin Boldak, inserting by helicopter at night, storming villages and grabbing suspects for interrogation. [110] During the period of Operation Jacana, a large proportion of the SAS contingent in Afghanistan fell victim to illness that affected hundreds of other British troops at Bagram Airfield, many had to be quarantined. [129] For his conduct whilst leading the SAS in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, Lieutenant Colonel Ed Butler was awarded the DSO. [130] Over the next three years, the SAS, operating with an Afghan counternarcotics force (which they trained and mentored) conducted frequent raids into Helmand province, closely coordinated with the ISAF-led PRT (Provisional Reconstruction Effort), which aimed to assist in creating the conditions for the building of a non-narco-based economy, while improving the political link between the province and the new government in Kabul. These efforts were later reinforced in 2004 by the New Zealand SAS, which patrolled northern Helmand in support of the US PRT efforts. During this period, the SAS teams and the US PRT gained a close familiarity with the province and its people, via a combination of 'hearts and minds'-focused patrolling and precise counternarcotics raiding, which focused on the traders/businessmen rather than poor farmers. They supported their missions with a field hospital, complete with specialist staff (as well as the occasional intelligence specialist), who offered medical assistance to Afghans-a programmed known as MEDCAP. This approach was said to have won over many Helmandis. [131]

In May 2003, G squadron deployed to Iraq to replace B and D squadron at the same time they deployed around a dozen of its soldiers to Afghanistan, every 22nd SAS squadron had this deployment establishment until 2005. [132] Also that year, it was revealed that reserve soldiers from 21 and 23 SAS Regiments were deployed, where they helped to establish a communications network across Afghanistan and also acted as liaison teams between the various political groups, NATO and the Afghan government. [133] SAS reservists supported the British PRT in Mazar-e-Sharif that was established in July 2003 and staffed by 100 members of the Royal Anglian Regiment. [134]

After it was decided to deploy British troops to Helmand Province, PJHQ tasked A Squadron 22 SAS to conduct a reconnaissance of the province between April and May 2005. The review was led by Mark Carleton-Smith, who found the province largely at peace due to the brutal rule of Sher Mohammad Akhundzada, and a booming opium-fuelled economy that benefited the pro-government warlords. In June he reported back to the MoD warning them not to remove Akhundzada and against the deployment of a large British force which would likely cause conflict where none existed. [135] [136] In spring 2005, as part of a deployment re-balance, the Director of Special Forces decided to only deploy the 22nd SAS regiment to Iraq until at least the end of operations there, whilst British special forces deployments to Afghanistan would be the responsibility of the SBS before this, a troop from an SAS squadron deployed to Iraq would be detached and deployed to Afghanistan. [137]

In June 2008 a Land Rover transporting Corporal Sarah Bryant and 23 SAS territorial soldiers Corporal Sean Reeve and Lance Corporals Richard Larkin and Paul Stout hit a mine in Helmand province, killing all four. [138] In October Major Sebastian Morley, their commander in Afghanistan D Squadron 23 SAS, resigned over what he described as "gross negligence" on the part of the Ministry of Defence that contributed to the deaths of four British troops under his command. Morley stated that the MoD's failure to properly equip his troops with adequate equipment forced them to use lightly armoured Snatch Land Rovers to travel around Afghanistan. [139] SAS reservists were withdrawn from frontline duty in 2010. [133] In December 2016, ABC news reported that the DEA's FAST (Foreign-Deployed Advisory Support Teams) teams initially operated in Afghanistan alongside the SAS to destroy small opium processing labs in remote areas of southern Afghanistan. [140]

Following the end of Operation Crichton in Iraq in 2009, two SAS squadrons were deployed to Afghanistan, where the Regiment would focus its operations. [141] The main objective of the SAS and other British special forces units with Afghan forces embedded was targeting Taliban leaders and drug barons using "Carrot and stick" tactics. [142] In 2010, the SAS also took part in Operation Moshtarak, four-man SAS teams and U.S. Army Special Forces team ODA 1231 would perform "find, fix, strike" raids. These resulted in the deaths of 50 Taliban leaders in the area according to NATO, but did not seem to have any real adverse effect on the Taliban's operations. [ citation needed ] According to the London Sunday Times, as of March 2010 the United Kingdom Special Forces have suffered 12 killed and 70 seriously injured in Afghanistan and seven killed and 30 seriously injured in Iraq. [143] [Note 2]

In 2011, a senior British officer in Afghanistan confirmed that the SAS were "taking out 130–140 mid-level Taliban commanders every month." [144] On 12 July 2011, soldiers from the SAS captured two British-Afghans in a hotel in Herat they were trying to join either the Taliban or al-Qaeda and are believed to be the first Britons to be captured alive in Afghanistan since 2001. [145] [146] British newspapers that drew on WikiLeaks data revealed the existence of a joint SBS/SAS task force based in Kandahar that was dedicated to conducting operations against targets on the JPEL British Apache helicopters were frequently assigned to support this task force. [147]

On 28 May 2012, two teams: one from the SAS and another from DEVGRU carried out Operation Jubilee: the rescue of a British aid worked and 3 other hostages after they were captured by bandits and held in two separate caves in the Koh-e-Laram forest, Badakhshan Province, the assault force killed 11 gunmen and rescued all 4 hostages. [148]

In December 2014, the NATO officially ended combat operations in Afghanistan, however NATO personnel are remaining in the country to support Afghan forces in the new phase of the War in Afghanistan. The Telegraph reported that around 100 British Special Forces members including members of the SAS would remain in Afghanistan, along with US Special Forces in a counter-terrorist task force continuing to hunt down senior Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders. They are also assigned their to protect British officials and troops remaining in the country. [149] In December 2015, it was reported that 30 members of the SAS alongside 60 US special forces operators joined the Afghan Army in the Battle to retake parts of Sangin from Taliban insurgents. [150]

Kashmir conflict Edit

In 2002, a team comprising Special Air Service and Delta Force personnel was sent into Indian-administered Kashmir to hunt for Osama bin Laden after reports that he was being sheltered by the Kashmiri militant group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. US officials believed that Al-Qaeda was helping organize a campaign of terror in Kashmir to provoke conflict between India and Pakistan. [151]

Iraq War Edit

The SAS took part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq under the codename: Operation Row, which was part of CJSOTF-West (Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – West) [152] B and D Squadrons carried out operations in Western Iraq [153] and Southern Iraq towards the end of the invasion, they escorted MI6 officers into Baghdad from Baghdad International Airport so they could carry out their missions, both Squadrons were replaced by G Squadron in early May. The US military designated the SAS element in Iraq during the invasion as Task Force 14 [154] in the months following the invasion, the SAS moved from Baghdad International Airport to MSS Fernandez in Baghdad, setting up and linking its "property" next to Delta Force, in summer 2003, following a request for a new mission, the SAS began Operation Paradoxical: The broadly drawn operation was for the SAS to hunt down threats to the coalition, SAS were 'joined at the hip' with Delta Force and JSOC, it also gave them greater latitude to work with US "classified" forces – prosecuting the best available intelligence. However, in winter 2003, they were placed under the command of the Chief of Joint Operations in Northwood, due to scepticism of Whitehall members about the UK mission in Iraq – making it more difficult for the SAS to work with JSOC. [155]

By 2004, The various 22nd SAS regiment squadrons would be part of Task Fore Black to fight against the Iraqi Insurgency, General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of NATO forces in Iraq, has commented on A Squadron 22 SAS Regiment when part of Task Force Black/Knight (subcomponents of Task Force 145), carried out 175 combat missions during a six-month tour of duty. [156] In January 2004, Major James Stenner and Sergeant Norman Patterson were killed when their vehicle hit a concrete roadblock whilst driving through the Green Zone at night the SAS's targets during this period (before it was integrated into JSOC in late 2005 to early 2006) were former Ba'athist party regime elements. By early 2005, the SAS supplemented their land rover and Snatch vehicles with M1114 Humvee's for better protection in southern Iraq, the SAS maintained a detachment in called Operation Hathor: consisting of a handful of soldiers based with British forces in Basra. Their primary role was to protect SIS (MI6) officers and to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance for the British Battle Group. In June 2005, after Delta Force took a number of casualties during Operation Snake Eyes, McChrystal asked the UK's DSF whether UK Special Forces would be able to assist, but he declined, citing ongoing British concerns about JSOCs detention facilities and other operational issues such as rules of engagement. This caused conflict between the DSF and the then-new commander of 22 SAS, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Williams, who believed the SAS were wasting their time targeting Ba'athist regime elements and advocated for a closer relationship with JSOC, tensions between them escalated throughout the summer of 2005. Williams met with McChrystal, whom he had a good relationship with, to discuss how he could get the SAS to work more closely with Delta Force and JSOC McChrystal met with the DSF and explained to him what JSOC was trying to do in Iraq, but the DSF questioned the tactics and in summary, strained relations further. The DSF tried to have Williams transferred, he took the case to General Sir Mike Jackson, Chief of the General Staff, citing a long list of grievances, but his request did not command widespread support at the end of 2005, the DSF was replaced. Many of issues preventing the SAS and TF (Task Force) Black's integration with JSOC had been resolved by the end of 2005 and TF Black began working more closely with JSOC. By late 2005, British commanders decided that the SAS would do six-month tours of duty, instead of the previous 4-month tours, it was officially confirmed in March 2006. Due to the Basra prison incident, in which the name of the UKSF forces in Iraq 'Task force Black' was leaked to the press, the force was renamed 'Task force Knight' also in 2005, the regiment began using specially trained dogs, specifically during raids on houses in Baghdad. [157] [158]

In mid-January 2006, Operation Paradoxical was replaced by Operation Traction: the SAS update/integration into JSOC, they deployed TGHG (Task Group Headquarters Group): this included senior officers and other senior members of 22 SAS – to JSOCs base at Balad. This was the first deployment of TGHG to Iraq since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the upgrade now meant that the SAS were "joined at the hip" with JSOC and it gave the SAS a pivatol role against Sunni militant groups, particularly AQI [159] In March 2006, members of B squadron SAS were involved in the release of peace activists Norman Kember, James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden. The three men had been held hostage in Iraq for 118 days during the Christian Peacemaker hostage crisis. [160] in April 2006 B squadron, launched Operation Larchwood 4 which was an intelligence coup which led to the death of AQI's leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In November 2006, Sergeant Jon Hollingsworth was killed in Basra whilst assaulting a house containing a senior al-Qaeda member he was decorated for his service in this unit. [161] On 20 March 2007 G squadron raided a house in Basra and captured Qais Khazali a senior Shia militant and an Iranian proxy, his brother and Ali Mussa Daqduq, without casualties. The raid turned out to be most significant raid conducted by British forces in Iraq, gaining valuable intelligence on Iranian involvement in the Shia insurgency. During the Spring and summer of 2007, the SAS suffered several men seriously wounded as it extended its operations into Sadr City. [162] From 2007 to early 2008, A squadron achieved "extraordinary" success impact in destroying al-Qaeda's VIBED network in Iraq, ultimately saving lives. [163] In early 2008, B squadron carried out the regiments first HAHO parachute assault in Iraq. [164] In May 2008, the SAS replaced their Humvee's for new Bushmaster armoured vehicles. [165] On 30 May 2009, Operation Crichton the UKSF deployment to Iraq ended, [166] over the course of the war, 6 SAS soldiers were killed and a further 30 injured. [167]

Somalia and Yemen Edit

In 2009, members of the SAS and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment were deployed to Djibouti as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa to carry out operations against Islamist terrorists in Yemen and Somalia amid concerns that the countries were becoming alternative bases for the extremists. In Yemen they operate as part of a counter-terrorism training unit and assisting in missions to kill or capture AQAP leaders, in particular they were hunting down for the terrorists behind the Cargo planes bomb plot. The SAS was carrying out surveillance missions of British citizens believed to be travelling to Yemen and Somalia for terrorist training and they are also working with US counterparts observing and "targeting" local terror suspects. [168] [169] Also in Yemen, the SAS was also liaising with local commandos and provided protection to embassy personnel. [170]

Members of the British SAS and US Army Special Forces trained members of the Yemeni Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU). Following the collapse of the Hadi regime in 2015, all coalition special operations personnel were officially withdrawn. [171]

International military intervention against ISIL Edit

In August 2014, the SAS were reported to be part of Operation Shader – the British participation in the ongoing military intervention against ISIL. They were reported to be on the ground gathering intelligence and helping with the evacuation of Yazidi refugees from the Sinjar mountains. [172] Also they have reportedly been helping Kurdish forces in northern Iraq [173] [174] as well as carrying out operations in Syria. In particular on 15 May, the SAS confirmed the presence in al-Amr of a senior leader, Abu Sayyaf, who was then killed in an assault by US Special Forces. [175] In October 2016, the Guardian reported that the SAS along with the Australian SASR are active in northern Iraq with US forces, where they have been calling in airstrikes in support of both Kurdish and Iraqi advances against ISIL. [176] In November 2016, the Independent reported that the SAS and other British special forces, as part of a multinational special forces operation, were given a list of 200 British jihadist to kill or capture before they attempt to return to the UK. The 200 jihadist are senior members of ISIL that pose a direct threat to the UK, the list of British men and women has been compiled from intelligence supplied by MI5, MI6 and GCHQ Sources said SAS soldiers have been told that the mission could be the most important in the regiment's 75-year history. [177] SAS snipers targeted ISIL insurgents, employing sniper rifles such as the IWI DAN .338 [178] and Barrett M82A1 .50 BMG.

Libya (2014–present) Edit

Since the beginning of 2016, the SAS was deployed to Libya during Libyan Civil War (2014–present), along with other UK Special forces, they have been escorting teams of MI6 agents to meet with Libyan officials and organise the supplying weapons and training to the Libyan army and to militias fighting against ISIL. [179] [180]

In March 2011, a joint SAS-MI6 team (E Squadron [181] were captured and detained by Libyan rebels, during the 2011 Libyan civil war. The team were stripped of their weapons. They were moved between at least two locations near Benghazi. They were later released. [182] The BBC reported that a troop of 20 soldiers of D Squadron 22 SAS deployed to Eastern Libya, where they operated in small groups in places like Misrata and Brega they assisted in training, coordinating and commanding opposition groups on and off the front line, and they were very active directing NATO airstrikes. [183] [184]


On this day, German General Erwin Rommel and his Afrika Korps launch an offensive against an Allied defensive line in Tunisia, North Africa. The Kasserine Pass was the site of the United States’ first major battle defeat of the war. General Erwin Rommel was dispatched to North . read more

On June 21, 1942, General Erwin Rommel turns his assault on the British-Allied garrison at Tobruk, Libya, into victory, as his panzer division occupies the North African port. Britain had established control of Tobruk after routing the Italians in 1940. But the Germans attempted . read more


MUSLIM RULE

Soon after the collapse of Roman rule, the religion of Islam was founded. This new faith quickly gained followers and became a major cultural and political force in North Africa and the Mediterranean region.

The Rise of Islam

In 622 the prophet Muhammad rose to power in the Arabian city of Medina and founded Islam. The Muslim leaders, or caliphs, who followed him used the religion to solidify and expand their rule throughout the Middle East and into North Africa. By the mid-600s they had invaded Egypt and the territories of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania in Libya. Then they expanded their North African holdings as far west as Tunis, spreading the new faith as they went.

Arab Trade and Culture

By the early 700s the Arabs had extended their empire across North Africa and up into Spain. Waves of settlers from Arabia came to live in North Africa, strengthening Arab control of the coast and trading with the Berber merchants of the region. Onceagain, trade provided a means of spreading new ideas. Through Arab merchants Islam quickly expanded beyond the Sahara, as far south as the Niger River and as far west as present-day SENEGAL.

Gradually, Arabic became the language used in everyday conversation and in literature and scholarship. Many people came to know Arabic through the Qur'an, the Islamic holy scripture. The spread of Islam also brought Islamic customs and religious practices to a wide area. The Arab rulers used Islamic law, called Shari'a, to settle disputes.

Under Arab rule, trading caravans ran more frequently and commercial networks expanded, accelerating the spread of Islam to distant regions. The Arabs relied on camels in their Saharan caravans and passed their skill in handling the animals on to the Sanhaja Berbers. The camels, superbly adapted to the desert, allowed merchants to travel more quickly and cover greater distances. New Berber groups became involved in trade and new routes opened up from Algeria south into Songhai and Mali.

Ruling Dynasties

By the late 900s the Arabs were well established in North Africa and had achieved independence from Baghdad (in modern Iraq), the political center of the Islamic world. In North Africa various powerful families worked to establish themselves as hereditary monarchs. A dynasty called the Tulunids took over in Egypt, and the Ahglabids rose to power in Algeria. The Idrisids gained influence in northern Morocco. These dynasties controlled the coastal strip of North Africa. However, in the south, the Berbers—particularly the Sanhaja and the TUAREG—remained independent.

For the next 400 years, different forms of Islam competed for dominance in North Africa. A version of the religion called Shia Islam was practiced by the Fatimid dynasty, which claimed descent from Muhammad's daughter Fatima. Gaining influence in Egypt and Tunisia, the Fatimids attempted to spread Shia Islam to the rest of North Africa. The followers of Sunni Islam, the more widespread version of the religion, opposed the Fatimids.

The conflict among these different forms of Islam kept the peoples of North Africa divided until a few great dynasties consolidated them. The Almoravids, Sanhaja Berbers who practiced Sunni Islam, rose to power in the west. By the 1100s, they had united the area from Morocco to Algeria and south into Senegal, Ghana, and Songhai. They also conquered much of Muslim Spain. Even after the Almoravid movement had passed on, it left a strong legacy in northern Africa. In its wake, it left behind the Maliki school of Islamic law, which became the dominant form of Islam in the region. It remains a powerful presence in parts of Africa. The Ziriids, also Sunni, came to power in western Algeria and Tunisia. The Fatimids remained in Egypt. Two Arab, rather than Berber, dynasties also gained some influence: the Hilali in western Algeria and Tunisia, and the Sulaym in Libya.

The Almoravids were the most powerful of these North African dynasties. However, in the 1100s the Soninke of Ghana challenged the Almoravids from the south. At the same time, the Almohads, a dynasty led by Berbers from the Atlas Mountains, began to challenge the Almoravids. The Almohads took the Almoravids' Spanish provinces and their lands along the North African coast. They held the region until 1269, when three new Berber states arose, ruled by the Marinid, Hafsid, and Zayyanid dynasties.

The Berber States

The Marinid dynasty held power in the territory now called Morocco, the Hafsids ruled from western Libya (Tripolitania) to eastern Algeria and Tunisia, and the Zayyanids controlled most of western Algeria. These rulers decided not to identify their states with any single religious sect, and they encouraged cooperation among followers of different doctrines. In this atmosphere, Islam thrived and the major cities of North Africa became important centers for scholarship and culture.

Relations among the three Berber states were frequently strained. In the mid-1300s the Marinid sultans, Abu al-Hasan Ali and Abu Inan, launched attacks on their eastern neighbors but were forced back. Such conflicts continued throughout the 1300s and 1400s, and territory in the region traded hands several times. The Marinids tried to take advantage of this instability and gain control of the entire region. But before they could do so, armies from Europe began to invade North Africa.

Toward the end of the 1400s, the conflict between Christian Europe and Muslim North Africa intensified. The Spanish and Portuguese captured several towns, leading the peoples of the North African states to join forces to defend the coast. To defeat the Portuguese, the Sa'di family of southern Morocco organized a movement that succeeded in occupying Marrakech in 1525. Within 30 years the Sa'dis had gained control of Morocco. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Turks had taken over Egypt in 1517. Since the Ottomans were Muslim, the other North African states turned to them for support in their fight against Christian conquest. Algeria was the first to seek help from the Turks. However, Turkish assistance came at a price—Algeria had to submit to Ottoman rule.

Ottoman Takeover

Once the Ottomans had a foothold in the region, they attempted to take over the port city of Tunis, then occupied by Spanish troops. The Ottomans expelled the Spanish in 1534 but held Tunis for only a year before Spain recaptured it. Forty years later the Turks finally won the city. In 1551 Ottoman forces seized Tripoli from its Christian rulers and took Libya. Morocco remained outside the Ottoman Empire because the Sa'dis had succeeded in repelling the Christian invaders without assistance from the Turks.

North Africa's membership in the Ottoman Empire marks the beginning of the formation of its modern nation-states. Morocco remained independent of Turkish rule. Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt became provinces in the Ottoman Empire, ruled by military governors. Eventually the provinces became autonomous states under the Ottoman sultan. These states did not become independent nations for a long time, partly because of the arrival of European powers in the region. Beginning in the 1800s, England, France, Germany, and Italy all attempted to claim territory in North Africa. The status of Western Sahara was disputed for decades and still has not been clearly determined. (See also Animals, Domestic Arabs in Africa Christianity in Africa Egypt, Ancient History of Africa Islam in Africa North Africa: Geography and Population Roman Africa Trade.)


Early moves in North Africa, 1940-41 - History

As the war dragged on, the need for manpower became increasingly vital. The North, first manned solely by volunteers, saw these numbers drop dramatically as the war dragged on and realities of the fighting (and death) reached these Northern communities. In response, Congress passed a conscription law allowing the federal government to draft men into the army. These law, however, was drastically unfair to the poor as the the rich could simply hire a substitute to serve in their place or simply by an exemption from the draft by paying $300. A young John D. Rockefeller was able to take this route and avoid the bloody fighting of the war.
The South, like the North, in the early days/years, was manned largely by volunteers. But, as early as April 1862, the Davis administration and the Confederate Congress was forced to also resort to a conscription law, drafting men ages 17 to 50 to serve in the Confederate army. As one saying said, the law robbed the South from the “cradle and grave” to help fight the war. As in the North, the South also provided rich men to hire a substitute or purchase an outright exemption to avoid service.

Battle of Fredericksburg

Meanwhile, on the frontlines the war continued to rage. After McClellan’s failure to act aggressively at Antietam, Lincoln replaced him as commander of the Army of the Potomac with General A. E. Burnside. Learning of this promotion, Burnside informed Lincoln he was unfit for this new responsibility – soon, Burnside would prove he was indeed correct. As Lee moved North, Union forces engaged the Confederate advancement. On December 13, 1862, Burnside launched a rash frontal attack on Lee’s position at Fredericksburg, Virginia. In what became known as “Burnside’s Slaughter Pen” over 10,000 Union soldiers were killed our wounded. After Fredericksburg, Burnside yielded command to “Fighting Joe” Hooker, an aggressive officer and subordinate of Burnside.

Battle of Chancellorsville

Then, on May 2-4, 1863, a confrontation occurred near Chancellorsville, Virginia. Here, Lee divided his numerically inferior force, sending “Stonewall” Jackson to attack the Union flank. Lee’s strategy worked. Hooker was not only beaten, but he was crushed, singingly Lee’s most brilliant and descale victory of the war to-date. However, this victory came at a heavy price. Lee’s right-hand-man, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was shot and killed. Riding at dusk behind his own lines, Jackson was mistaken for the enemy by his own men, shooting him in the army. Jackson’s army was amputated in an attempt to save his life, however, he caught pneumonia, and a few days later died. Still Lee believed he need to act decisively, and continue his planned invasion of Pennsylvania – the North – hoping this descale action would give added intensity to those Northerners demanding Lincoln seek peace with the Confederacy, as well as encourage foreign intervention into the conflict on the side of the South.

The Battle of Gettysburg

As Lee marched his army northward, the sheer geography of the region, and the lay-out of the road system, led his army to a small Pennsylvania village named Gettysburg. Then, in the early morning hours of July 1, 1863, Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia were engaged by Union forces, now under the command of George Meade. In the once quiet streets, Union and Confederate soldiers clashed. Lee’s army managed to drive the defending Union soldiers out of the town to nearby Cemetery Hill and, at dawn the next day (July 2, 1863), Lee put his grand plan into motion: surround the forces of the North, and strike at Union soldiers at the Peach Orchard, the Wheatfield, Devil’s Den, Big Round Top, Little Round Top, and Culp’s Hill.

By nightfall, however, Lee’s assaults failed to achieve the long-sought-after victory on Northern soil that was supposed to boost Confederate morale, and, more importantly, draw pro-Confederate foreign intervention into the American conflict. Driven from his last stronghold on Culp’s Hill in the early morning hours of July 3, 1863, Lee’s army unleashed an artillery bombardment against Union forces on Cemetery Ridge in an effort to weaken Union forces for the infantry assault led by Longstreet, Pickett, and Pettigrew (Pickett’s Charge). When the Confederate guns finally ceased firing, Lee’s soldiers began their march across open farmland to strike at the center of the Union line. But this bold attack would end in disaster. This assault by George Pickett failed to split Union forces, and instead, Lee and his beloved Confederacy reached the “high water mark” of the war. By the next day, July 4, 1863, Lee realized his invasion of the North had failed. In a pelting rain, Lee could do little but retreat south to the relative safety of the Confederacy, realizing his attempt to invade the North and failed.

Death at Gettysburg

Over these three days of fighting, nearly 163,000 Confederate and Union soldiers clashed on the hills, fields, and even the streets of this small crossroads town. Even more staggering than the number of soldiers engaged in combat is the number of men who lost their lives at Gettysburg. Of the 23,000 Union and 28,000 Confederates who fell as wounded causalities, 3,155 Union and 3,903 Confederates died on the blood-soaked terrain of this Civil War battlefield. With over 7,000 Union and Confederate men dying at Gettysburg, this battlefield has long held an association with death, suffering, and the barbarity of war.


World War II: The North African Campaign


The North African Campaign began in June of 1940 and continued for three years, as Axis and Allied forces pushed each other back and forth across the desert. At the beginning of the war, Libya had been an Italian colony for several decades and British forces had been in neighboring Egypt since 1882. The two armies began skirmishing almost as soon as Italy declared war on the Allied Nations in 1940. Italy invaded Egypt in September of 1940, and in a December counterattack, British and Indian forces captured some 130,000 Italians. Hitler's response to this loss was to send in the newly formed "Afrika Korps" led by General Erwin Rommel. Several long, brutal pushes back and forth across Libya and Egypt reached a turning point in the Second Battle of El Alamein in late 1942, when Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery's British Eighth Army broke out and drove Axis forces all the way from Egypt to Tunisia. In November, Operation Torch brought in thousands of British and American forces. They landed across western North Africa, and joined the attack, eventually helping force the surrender of all remaining Axis troops in Tunisia in May of 1943 and ending the Campaign for North Africa. (This entry is Part 12 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II)

Australian troops approach a German-held strong point under the protection of a heavy smoke screen somewhere in the Western Desert, in Northern Africa on November 27, 1942. #

German General Erwin Rommel with the 15th Panzer Division between Tobruk and Sidi Omar. Photo taken in Libya, in 1941. #

Australian troops string out behind tanks in a practice advance over North African sands, on January 3, 1941. The supporting infantry is spread out thinly as a precaution against air raids. #

A German Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bomber attacking a British supply depot near Tobruk, Libya, in October of 1941. #

An RAF Airman places a cross, made from the wreckage of an Aircraft, over a grave on December 27, 1940, containing the bodies of five Italian Airmen shot down in the Desert Battle at Mersa Matruh on October 31, 1940. #

One of the Bren gun carriers used by Australian light horse troops in Northern Africa, on January 7, 1941. #

Two British tank officers, somewhere in the North African War Zone, on January 28, 1941, grin at war cartoons in an Italian newspaper. One holds a Mascot --- a puppy found during the capture of Sidi Barrani, one of the first Italian bases to fall in the African War. #

An Italian flying boat burning of the water off the coast of Tripoli, on August 18, 1941 after an encounter with a royal air force fighter patrol. Just above the tip of the port wing, the body of an Italian airman can be seen floating. #

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British sources say these are Italian soldiers, killed when shell fire from British artillery pieces caught their ammunition column Southwest of Gazala in the Libyan battles of January, 1942. #

One of the many Italian prisoners of war captured in Libya, who arrived in London on January 2, 1942. This one is still wearing his Africa Corps cap. #

Batteries of an advanced Italian position near Tobruk, Libya, on January 6, 1942. #

British Blenheim bombers setting out on a raid in Cyrenaica, Libya, with their escorting fighters, on February 26, 1942. #

A British patrol is on the lookout for enemy movements over a valley in the Western Desert, on the Egyptian side of the Egypt-Libya border, in February of 1942. #

"Buss" Mascot with an R.A.F. Squadron stationed in Libya, on February 15, 1942, takes a few personal liberties with the pilot of an American-Built Tomahawk plane somewhere in the Western Desert. #

This hydroplane is part of the R.A.F. rescue service in the Middle East. It operates on the lakes of the Nile Delta for the assistance of pilots who may make forced landings in the water. Consisting of a cabin mounted on seaplane flats it is driven by an aircraft engine and propeller mounted in the stern and steered by an aircraft rudder. There are also rudders on each of the floats. The top speed of the craft is about fifteen knots. Photo taken on March 11, 1942. #

Experienced in desert weather flying, a British pilot lands an American made Kittyhawk fighter plane of the Sharknose Squadron in a Libyan Sandstorm, on April 2, 1942. A mechanic on the wing helps to guide the pilot as he taxis through the storm. #

A wounded British warrior in Libya lies on cot in a desert hospital tent, on June 18, 1942, shielded from the strong tropical sun. #

Britain's General Bernard Montgomery, Commander of the Eighth Army, watches battle in Egypt's Western Desert, from the turret of an M3 Grant tank, in 1942. #

Truck-mounted anti-tank guns, used as highly mobile, hard-hitting artillery units, speed over the desert and attack the enemy from all sorts of unexpected quarters. A mobile anti-tank unit of the Eighth Army in action, somewhere in the desert, Libya, on July 26, 1942. #

This view of an air raid on an Axis plane base at Martuba, near Derna, in Libya on July 6, 1942 was made from one of the South African planes which took part in the raid. The four sets of white streaks in the lower half show the dust of Axis planes speeding along the ground to escape as bomb bursts appear near them and in upper center. #

During his stay in the Middle East, Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill paid a visit to the Alamein area, meeting brigade and divisional commanders, visiting a gun site, and inspecting personnel of Australian and South African divisions, on August 19, 1942 in the western desert. #

A low-flying Royal Air Force plane escorts rolling trucks of a New Zealand unit on the move in Egypt on August 3, 1942. #

A British unit in a U.S. built M3 Stuart "Honey" tank patrols at speed in Egypt's Western Desert near Mount Himeimat, Egypt, in September of 1942. #

A wounded German officer, found in the Egyptian desert during the first two days of a British offensive, is guarded by a sentry while awaiting backup, on November 13, 1942. #

Some of the 97 German prisoners captured by the British forces in Egypt in a raid on Tel El Eisa, Egypt, on September 1, 1942. #

An Allied convoy, escorted by sea and air, plowed through the seas toward French North African possessions near Casablanca, French Morocco, in November of 1942, part of Operation Torch, the large British-American invasion of French North Africa. #

U.S. landing barges speed shoreward off Fedala, French Morocco during landing operations in early November, 1942. Fedala is about 15 miles north of Casablanca, French Moroccan city. #

Allied troops land and follow the spider webs of footprints left by first parties near Casablanca, French Morocco, in November of 1942. #

Under the watchful eyes of U.S. troops bearing bayonets, members of the Italo-German armistice commission in Morocco are rounded up to be taken to Fedala, north of Casablanca, on November 18, 1942. Commission members were surprised in American landing move. #

French troops on their way to the fighting lines in Tunisia shake hands with American soldiers at the rail station in Oran, Algeria, North Africa, on December 2, 1942. #

A U.S. army soldier with a sub-machine gun and another in a jeep guard the looming S. S. Partos which was damaged and had capsized against the dock when the Allies landed at the North African port, in 1942. #

This German had sought cover in a bomb shelter, attempting to escape an Allied attack in the Libyan desert, on December 1, 1942. He did not make it. #

A U.S. Navy dive-bomber uses a road as a runway near Safi, French Morocco, on December 11, 1942, but hits a soft shoulder in the takeoff. #

B-17 bombers, of the U.S. Army's Twelfth Air force, dropped fragmentation bombs on the important El Aouina airdrome at Tunis, Tunisia, and covered the airdrome and field completely. On the field below enemy planes can be seen burning, on February 14, 1943. #

A United States soldier advances cautiously at left with a sub-machine gun to cover any attempt of the German tank crew from escaping their fiery prison inside their tank following a duel with U.S. and British anti-tank units in Medjez al Bab area, Tunisia, on January 12, 1943. #

German prisoners captured during an Allied raid on German-Italian position in Sened, Tunisia on February 27, 1943. The hatless soldier stated that he was only twenty years old. #

Two thousand Italian prisoners march back through Eighth Army lines, led by a Bren gun carrier, in the Tunisian desert, in March 1943. The prisoners were taken outside El-Hamma after their German counterparts pulled out of the town. #

This pattern of anti-aircraft fire provides a protective screen over Algiers at night. The photo, recording several moments of gunfire, shows a defense thrown up during an axis raid upon Algiers in North Africa on April 13, 1943. #

Italian gunners man their light field piece in a field of Tunisian cactus, on March 31, 1943. #

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, right, commander-in-chief in North Africa, jokes with four American soldiers during a recent inspection of the Tunisian battlefront, on March 18, 1943. #

A German soldier lies sprawled against a mortar after a bayonet attack in Tunis, Tunisia, on May 17, 1943. #

Wildly enthusiastic citizens of Tunis greet the victorious allied troops who occupied the city. A British tankman gets a personal welcome from a Tunis resident in Tunisia, on May 19, 1943. #

After the surrender of Axis forces in Tunisia in May of 1943, Allied forces took more than 275,000 prisoners of war. Shown here is one roundup of thousands of German and Italian soldiers in Tunisia seen in an Army Air Forces aerial shot, on June 11, 1943. #

Actress-comedian Martha Raye entertains servicemen of the U.S. Army 12th Air Force on a makeshift stage on the edge of the Sahara Desert in North Africa in 1943. #

After the defeat of Axis forces in Northern Africa, Allied troops prepared to use the territory to launch attacks on Italy and other parts of southern Europe. Here, a U.S. Air Transport Command plane, loaded with war supplies, flies over the pyramids at Giza, near Cairo, Egypt, in 1943. #

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Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco

In 1940 each of the five territories along the North African coast—Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco—had a colonial or semi-colonial status under a European power. Britain formally established a protectorate over Egypt in 1914. Despite granting Egypt nominal independence under Sultan Fuad I in 1922, Britain retained control of Egyptian foreign policy and military defense. Britain also occupied the shores of the Suez Canal. British control of Egypt was reconfirmed under the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty. Italy conquered the provinces of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania, and Fezzan from the Turks in 1911 and renamed the unified colony Libya in 1934.

France established a formal protectorate over Tunisia in 1881 the Tunisian ruler was supervised by a French Resident-General. Morocco, ruled by a Sultan, had become a French protectorate under the Treaty of Fez in 1912 as in Tunisia, a French Resident-General supervised the Sultan and his bureaucracy. France began its conquest of Algeria in 1830. By 1940, Algeria had been made a formal part of France ruled directly by a Governor-General. With the collapse of France and the establishment of the Vichy regime in 1940, the French North African colonies came under Vichy control.


War in North Africa

The war in Africa was to play a key role in the overall success of the Allies in World War Two. Within the Africa scenario, In the initial stages of World War Two, the Allies did not do well. The Battle of Britain gave British people hope after the despair of Dunkirk, but the first real ‘taste’ of success was to come in Africa with Montgomery’s victory over Rommel’s Afrika Korps.

The British Army was in Egypt to protect the Suez Canal. The use of this canal allowed a vast amount of time to be cut for journeys taken from Europe to the Far East. If Britain controlled the Suez then Nazi Germany and the other Axis powers could not use it.

Also if the Allies could build up bases in North Africa there was always the potential to launch an attack on what Churchill called the “soft underbelly of Europe” – Italy or Yugoslavia. Hitler also feared this.

By 1941, the Italian army had been all but beaten and Hitler had to send German troops to North Africa to clear out Allied troops. The German force was lead by Erwin Rommel – one of the finest generals of the war.

In March 1941, Rommel attacked the Allies in Libya. By May 1941, they had been pushed back into Egypt and only Tobruk held out against the “Desert Fox”.

In June 1941, General Wavell started “Operation Battleaxe” to help Tobruk. It failed as the Allied force was simply too small to defeat the Afrika Korps. Churchill sacked Wavell and replaced him with General Claude Auchinleck. He planned an attack on Rommel for November 1941 with the same aspiration of helping Tobruk. The attack succeeded and Rommel was forced into a retreat.

By January 1942, Rommel had re-organised his forces and hit back – with success. He was stopped when he reached Gazala. Rommel’s skill was fighting with the bare minimum. Germany at this time had soldiers on three fronts – France, Russia and North Africa. The German army was spread over a vast area and 23rds of the army was based in Russia with a proportionate amount of equipment including vital oil supplies.

In May 1942, Rommel began a new attack. He was later to comment that although the British forces had more weaponry than him, they used such equipment in a poor way – “bit by bit”

In June 1942, Tobruk fell. 35,000 Allied troops were taken prisoner. This was more men than Rommel had at his disposal.

Auchinleck retreated to El Alamein and in July 1942 the first battle took place. Rommel’s attack faltered only because he ran out of supplies especially fuel. German supply routes were being hindered by newly formed special forces units – the SAS and Long Range Desert Group. Both these forces did great damage to Rommel’s supply lines and played a major part in halting Rommel’s advance. Despite success, Auchinleck was sacked and replaced by 2 generals. General Alexander was put in overall command and Bernard Montgomery was put in charge of the Eighth Army (the Desert Rats). `Monty` took time to consolidate his forces and by October 1942 he had 230,000 men and 1400 tanks whereas Rommel had 80,000 men and 500 tanks.

“The battle which is about to begin will be one of the most important battles in history. It will be the turning point of the war.” Montgomery

The Battle of El Alamein started on October 23rd 1942 with a massive bombardment of German lines by 800 big guns. This was followed by bombing by planes before the tanks were sent into battle. Rommel was forced to retreat under this devastating assault and started to do so on November 3rd 1942. This time he was not given the time to re-group his force as the Allies did not give him the time to do so. Equally as important was the Americans landing in Algeria which meant that Rommel was trapped between the British forces and the advancing American forces. Rommel wanted to evacuate troops before the inevitable happened but Hitler expressly forbade it. Rommel was flown out of North Africa but 130,000 Germans surrendered and by May 1943 the war in North Africa was over.

The Africa Korps contained some of Hitler’s finest soldiers and a vast amount of first class equipment was lost by the Germans including the newly designed battle tanks.

Also this victory did expose the south of Italy to invasion and the Allies duly invaded Sicily which would be used as a springboard for an invasion of mainland Italy and from there parts of Germany in the south could be bombed to bring more devastation to Hitler’s Germany. The victory at El Alamein also showed that Hitler’s army was not invincible.


Early moves in North Africa, 1940-41 - History

This is where our history begins.

A quick summary:
Australopithecine lived fro, about 4.5 million to 1 million BCE. This stage of hominid development has been found onli in southern and eastern Africa. They were also the first human-like creature to walk upright.

Homo erectus first appeared around 1.6 million years and faded out around 250,000 years BCE. They have been found in Africa, Asia and Europe. They were the first human like hominids to move out of Africa.

Homo Sapiens lived from about 400,000 BCE and you are still one. They are everywhere on the Earth, but the early Homo Sapiens have been found in Africa, Asia and Europe.

Each group overlapped the previous group, so don't look at it like one was born and the other disappeared.
For more information on the Early history of Humans, go to the Institute of Human Origins website at: http://iho.asu.edu/

If you are interested in a visual of early humans movement throughout the earth, please take some time and look at this site. http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/journey/

The information below is cited from the Bradshaw Foundation and Stephen Oppenheimer. I am sincerely thankful for their work.


3.5 Million Years Ago
Australopithecus afarense lived in Africa and walked and stood on two legs,but it is thought to have lived mainly in the trees.

These were Human-like hominids and we learned a lot about this group from "Lucy".

Main physical difference between early man and apes are the hands.


2 Million Years Ago
Paranthropus boisel lived in Africa, their teeth four times larger than ours allowed them to eat tough vegetation.


2 Million Years Ago
Homo habilis also lived about two millions years ago in Africa. Intelligent scavengers and tool-makers. Often called the First True Humans. They were taller and had a larger brain then the Australopithecus.


1.5 Million Years Ago
Homo ergaster lived about 1.5 million years ago in Africa. Much larger brains than previous hominids, and more skilled tool-makers and hunters. Probable ancestors of human beings. Spread into Asia, where they are known as Homo erectus. Homo Erectus were the first true hunters.


500,000 Years Ago
Homo heidelbergensis lived in europe 500,000 years ago. Sophisticated tool-makers and fierce hunters.Probable ancestors of Neanderthal man but not of human beings. Neanderthal are known to have buried their dead with a ceremony. They used stone tipped spears, bone needles to sew.


200,000 Years Ago
Homo neanderthalensis lived 200,000 to 30,000 years ago. Dominant hominid species in Europe for much of the last Ice Age. Driven out by Homo sapiens, modern man.

Homo Sapiens in Europe are called Cro Magnon and are known for Bow and arrows, well constructed huts with central hearths for fires necklaces & pendants, cave art scene in the Chauvet cave, little statues made from ivory, antler, bone tools and weapons for hunting and fishing, oil lamps. They existed until End of the last Ice Age about 10,000 years ago.

Over 160,000 years ago modern humans – Homo sapiens – lived in Africa. The earliest known archeological evidence of our mtDNA and Ychromosome ancestors is found in East Africa.

Four groups traveled as hunter-gatherers south to the Cape of Good Hope, south west to the Congo Basin and west to the Ivory coast, carrying the first generation of mtDNA gene types “L1”.

A group travelled across a green Sahara 125,000 years ago, thorugh the open northern gate, up the Nile and into the Levant. This is the first exit of our ancestors from Africa.

During this period of time, rainforests and woodlands occupied a far greater area than at present and rainfall was generally higher over north Africa, allowing people to follow game across the Sahara up into the Levant.

The branch that reached the Levant died out by 90,000 years ago. A global freeze up turned this area and north Africa into an extreme desert. This region was later reoccupied by Neandertal Man.

85,000 years ago a group crossed the mouth of the Red Sea - “The Gates of Grief” prior to traveling as beach combers along the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula toward India. All non-African people descended from this group.

From Sri Lanka they continued along the Indian Ocean coast to Western Indonesia, then a landmass attached to Asia. Still following the coast, they moved around to Borneo to South China.

The Climate during this era was a vast and impassable desert belt from the west coast of Africa to north-east Siberia which prevented access to Northern Eurasia and further encouraged the beachcombing route along the Asian coastline.

In 74,000 BCE there was a Super-eruption of Mt. Toba in Sumatra causing a 6 year nuclear winter and instant 1,000 year Ice Age with a dramatic population crash to less than 10,000 adults. Volcanic ash from the eruption up to 5m deep covered India and Pakistan.

Following the devastation of the Indian sub-continent, repopulation took place. Groups crossed by boat from Timor into Australia and also from Borneo into New Guinea. There was intense cold in the lower Pleniglacial time period in the north.

Dramatic warming of the climate 52,000 years ago meant groups were finally able to move north up te Fertile Crescent returning to the Levant. From there they moved into Europe via the Bosporus.

Groups from the east Asian coast moved west through the central Asia steppes towards Northeast Asia. From Pakistan they moved into Central Asia, and from Indo-China through Tibet into the Qing-Hai Plateau.

Central Asians moved west towards eastern Europe, north into the Arctic Circle and joined East Asians to start the spread into northeast Eurasia. This period saw the birth of spectacular works of art, as in the Chauvet cave in France.

The climate was in a relatively cold phase for north-western and central Europe, based on a range of indicators including plant fossils, insect fossils and ancient dune features and permafrost features.

Ancestors of the Native Americans who crossed the Bering Land Bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska either passed through the ice corridor reaching Meadowcroft Pennsylvania before a deeper Ice Age took hold or they took a coastal route.

Northern Europe, Asia, and North America were de-populated, with isolated surviving groups locked in refuges. In north America, the ice corridor closed and the coastal route through Canada was closed due to the Ice Age.

The Last Glacial maximum [LGM] was 18,000 years ago. In North America, south of the ice, groups continued to develop diversity in language, culture and genes as they crossed into South America. In Australia, there is evidence of fantastic rock art in the Bradshaw paintings.

Continued amelioration of the global climate. Coastal routes reopened. Monte Verde in Chili witnessed human habitation radio-carbon dating places initial human habitation from 11,790 to 13,565 years ago. Simple stone tools such as flakes and cobbles were excavated.

Reoccupation of North America 12,500 years ago from the south occurs as the ice moves north. In the sub-arctic 11,500 years ago people were forced out from the refuge they utilized and are now what we call Eskimos, Aleuts and Na-Dene speakers.

The first known religious temple was built in Turkey. This site is known as Göbekli Tepe (pronounced Guh-behk-LEE TEH-peh), and features cleanly carved limestone pillars splashed with bas-reliefs (carvings) of animals—a procession of gazelles, snakes, foxes, scorpions, and ferocious wild boars. The building was designed some 11,600 years ago. CLICK TO READ NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ARTICLE ON TOPIC

The final collapse of the Ice Age heralded the dawn of Agriculture. The Sahara was a grassland, as implied by the life-size giraffe petroglyphs in Niger. Recolonization of Britain and Scandinavia occurs. Agriculture booms around the planet as the first civilizations take root.

4,600 BCE: At Stonehenge there is The megalithic circle on the Salisbury Plain in England inspires awe and fascination—but also intense debate some 4,600 years after it was built by ancient Britons who left no written record. CLICK TO READ NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ARTICLE ON TOPIC

3200 BCE: In Ireland, there is a Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange that was built about 3200 BC. CLICK TO VIEW SITE


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