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Operation Starkey

Page Created
October 4th, 2022
Last Updated
October 5th, 2022
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Special Forces
No. 10 Commando
Special Boat Service
July 3rd, 1943 – September 4th,1943
Operation Starkey
  • Simulate the preparations of an invasion in the Pas de Calais area in France by the end of September. The raiding party’s objective known as Operation Forfar within operation Starkey is reconnaissance for a simulated invasion and draw the attention of the Germans. To that end the raiders leave behind letters for the enemy to pick up. The overall intention of Operation Starkey is drawing the Luftwaffe into an air battle with the simulated invasion threat.
Operational Area
  • Channel Area.
Unit Force
  • Raiding parties of around ten men, drawn from No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando, No. 12 Commando and the Special Boat Squadron.
  • Royal Air Force
  • U.S. Air Force
  • British XII Corps
  • Canadian II Corps
  • Royal Navy
Opposing Forces
  • Luftwaffe

In March 1943, the newly appointed Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Command (COSSAC), Major-General Frederick Morgan, is directed to conduct military deception operations in western Europe. in the hope that it would tie down enemy forces during the assault on the south of the continent. The directive included explicit reference to creating fictional amphibious assaults on the French coastline, in an effort to draw out the Luftwaffe.

Morgan and John Bevan, head of the London Controlling Section (LCS), establish a deception planning section of COSSAC called Ops (B), under Lieutenant-Colonel J. A. Jervis-Read. The section, alongside the LCS, begins outlining a plan to meet the 1943 targets. On June 3rd, 1943, they submitted three operations, Operation Starkey, Operation Wadham and Operation Tindall, under the overall name Operation Cockade to the Chiefs of Staff for approval. Operation Starkey is initially known as Operation Domesday and then Operation Broadsword.

Operation Starkey called for initial raiding missions, known as Operation Forfar, to simulate beach reconnaissance. After the raiding parties, the larger part of Operation Starkey would take place. It was to simulate a British and Canadian amphibious invasion into the Boulogne area, in northern France. Staring with British and U.S. Bombing raids. The Royal Air Force would provide 3,000 heavy bomber sorties into the Boulogne area. The United States Air Force would deliver 2,300 heavy bomber, 3,700 fighter and perform four hundred medium bomber sorties against targets near Boulogne. That should convince the Germans that the British and Canadian invasion preparations are authentic. Starkey would culminate with a large feint involving an amphibious force aboard thirty ships, operating off the Boulogne coast. This part of Operation Starkey is named Operation Harlequin.

Operation Harlequin is planned as an amphibious training exercise in the English Channel. The mission of the operation is to try out the procedure and machinery for passing troops from Concentration Areas through Assembly and Transit Areas to embarkation hards and ports. The exercise represents an embarkation program for the European invasion extending from D-Day to D+3. Two corps are involved, namely 2.5 divisions of Lieutenant General N. M. Ritchie’s British XII Corps passing through assembly areas in the Dover and Newhaven sectors. The second corps are the 2.5 divisions of Lieutenant General G. G. Simonds’s Canadian II Corps passing through the areas in the Portsmouth and Southampton sectors.

On reaching the waterside, most of the force turns back and disperse. The units attached to Operation Starkey are also participating in Operation Harlequin. The force consists of approximately thirty British Anti-Aircraft ships. The ships proceed into the English Channel to convince the Germans that an invasion is intended, and thus to precipitate a major air battle. The Germans fail to respond to the operation.