Operation Bigamy

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Operation Bigamy
Part of Operation Agreement, during the Second World War
DateSeptember 1942
Result Allied operational failure
 United Kingdom  Italy
 Nazi Germany
Commanders and leaders
David Stirling
Casualties and losses
~70 vehicles Unknown

Operation Bigamy[1] a.k.a. Operation Snowdrop was a raid during the Second World War by the Special Air Service in September 1942 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel David Stirling and supported by the Long Range Desert Group. The plan was to destroy the harbour and storage facilities at Benghazi and raid the airfield at Benina in Libya in coordination with the RAF. The raid was part of a deception plan for Operation Agreement, the much larger raid on Tobruk.

The plan involved a "gruelling journey around the southern edge of the Great Sand Sea"[2] but ended in failure. The raiding force was discovered at a road block by an Italian reconnaissance unit and Stirling decided to withdraw[1] to Kufra. During the withdrawal, the Luftwaffe picked off nearly 70 of the vehicles on the barren terrain. The survivors were reformed as the 1st Special Air Service regiment.[3]

The frequently used, albeit inaccurate, name Operation Snowdrop stems from early editions of William Boyd Kennedy Shaws' book Long Range Desert Group. At the time, War Office security policy would not permit Shaw to use real operational code names.

In September 1967 Len Deighton wrote an article in the Sunday Times Magazine about Operation Snowdrop. The following year Stirling was awarded "substantial damages" in a libel action about the article.[4] The passage complained of states "Stirling himself had insisted upon talking about the raid at two social gatherings at the British Embassy in Cairo although warned not to do so". Stirling made the point that Winston Churchill had been at both gatherings and the issue was raised in a private discussion with the Prime Minister.[2]


  1. ^ a b Molinari, Andrea (2007). Desert raiders: Axis and Allied Special Forces 1940-43. Botley, UK: Osprey Publishing. pp. 70–71. ISBN 1-84603-006-4.
  2. ^ a b "Libel Damages For 'Operation Snowdrop' Leader". The Times. London. 24 May 1968.
  3. ^ West, Nigel (2009). Historical dictionary of Ian Fleming's world of intelligence: fact and fiction. The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0810861909.
  4. ^ "Wartime Raid is Recalled in Leader's Libel Actions". The Glasgow Herald. Glasgow. 24 May 1968. p. 9. Retrieved 30 March 2015.