Operation Telescope

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Operation Telescope was also the original name for the World War Two Operation Copperhead.

Operation Telescope was the name given to a Franco-British operation during the 1956 Suez Crisis, consisting of a series of parachute drops launched by the British Parachute Brigade, in combination with French paratroop forces, 24 hours before the seaborne landing on Port Said during Operation Musketeer. Troops dropped onto Gamal airfield and Port Fuad to secure airfields and prevent Egyptian forces from providing air defence. It was put forward by the deputy Land Task Force Commander General André Beaufre under the original name Omelette which included many more drops but was adapted due to British fear of another failure like Arnhem and a lack of aircraft able to deploy paratroopers.

The British parachute drop on Gamal airfield was a success despite the inability of the British to fire their personal weapons until they retrieved them from their personal containers attached to them. The oil drums placed on the airfield by Egyptian forces failed to prevent the drop and in fact provided cover for the British paratroopers.

The French drop on Port Fuad was so successful that a follow up amphibious landing on Port Fuad was deemed unnecessary .

One criticism[by whom?] of the operation was that the drop on Gamal was not followed up with reinforcements by 45 Commandos with helicopters. However the use of helicopters was new to warfare at the time, and the British did not want to risk their failing to meet their objectives and complicating subsequent operations.

Sources[edit]

  • Kyle, Keith, Suez 1956: Britain's End of Empire in the Middle East, (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1991)
  • Fullick, Roy and Powell, Geoffrey, Suez: The Double War, (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1979)