Albania Commando Operations

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Belly, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. Belly

    Belly Engage the enemy more closely


    I’m trying to pinpoint key locations and find further information of the 2 Cdo operations in Albania, namely:

    Operation Healing II – Spilje commenced 29th July 1944
    Operation Houndforce – Sarande, commenced 22nd September 1944

    Do WWII military maps of the areas exist? I’m trying to find the key locations, landing beaches, ‘commando ridge’, etc. as I am planning to visit later this year. Searching the NA and IWM online doesn’t seem to throw up much in relation to these operations.

  2. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Had a look at a couple of things I have and came up with the following. Don’t know if it is of use to you.

    “Healing II”

    2 Commando
    2 Highland Light Infantry
    9 Commando
    40 Commando

    DEFE 2/240 “Healing” 1944
    WO 218/234 H Squadron GHQ Liaison Squadron

    ‘Mercerised’ Sarande Harbour

    2 and 40 Commando
    RAF Para Coy Levies
    111 Field Regiment, RA

    DEFE 2/359 Mercerised 1944
    AIR 23/8188, Operation `Mercerised': Houndforce, 1944, ISS/6151A IIJ20/5/12/167
    AIR 23/8189, Operation `Mercerised': Houndforce, 1944, ISS/6151B IIJ20/5/12/168
    WO 218/234 H Squadron GHQ Liaison Squadron

    The book “The Light Blue Lanyard Fifty Years with 40 Commando Royal Marines by Major Jeffery Beadle” has several pages covering this operation. I will have look at it when I get a chance and see if it gives any locations.


  3. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    In regard to op healing 2. On Jul 28 1944 a small party of 40 porters drawn from No 9 Commando was involved with No 2 Commando, a company from the HLI and others, in a raid on Albania, codename 'Healing II.' It was designed to open up the coastline south of the Linguetta Peninsula because the partisans were in desperate need of supplies. The action against the 150 strong German garrison at Spilje was designed to create a relatively safe landing area. However, a combination of events conspired against the raiding party. Albanian Quislings had alerted the Germans so the element of surprise was lost and they were well prepared. In addition radio communications were adversely affected by surrounding trees with predictable consequences in not achieving the best use of the resources available. Machine gun nests took an increasingly heavy toll and, with time running out, the Commanding Officer, Colonel Fynn, had no choice but to withdraw his exhausted men including the wounded. 20 men were killed in this action and 60 wounded.

    However, the result was better than had first appeared. Many of the German defenders had been killed and wounded together with a number of Quislings. The garrison strength had been weakened to such an extent that local partisans had rounded up the remaining Germans thus taking control over the coastal strip in the area. Brigadier Davey, in a note to Colonel Fynn, considered the mission a 'complete success' notwithstanding the casualties. No. 9 COMMANDO No.2 Cdo. - Albania Commando Veterans Association
  4. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    And this on Op Houndforce. In October 1944 Land Forces Adriatic launched an attack to seize the port of Sarande — on the Albanian mainland opposite corfu - to deprive the German Forces retreating northwards from Greece of an evacuation port. It was decided to reinforce the formatation (‘Houndforce’) tasked for this operation with a mountain Warfare/ paratroop company in order to seize the high ground which overlooked and dominated the harbour.

    I (Parachute) Company of the RAF Levies Iraq duly went ashore and stormed up Hill 246 with such speed that the enemy garrison was taken by surprise and 96 German soldiers where captured without any casualties being incurred by the Levies

    Extract taken from "Through Adversity" by Kingsley M Oliver with kind permission from the author Kingsley M Oliver RAF Regiment - Greece 1944 The mention of 1 Parachute company RAF Levies, peaked my interest to know more and I found these snippets. The Parachute Sqn. landed by sea on the beaches at Sarande in Albania, alongside the British Commandos. The graveyards, and memorials to the missing, can be quite widespread. A man wounded in Albania might have succumbed in Italy and be buried there. Some are commemorated in Serbia. More can be found below sounds like a fascinating and unique unit with a surprising mix! .RAF Assyrian Levies in WW2 etc
  5. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    Warlord and Smudger Jnr like this.
  6. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

  7. Belly

    Belly Engage the enemy more closely

    Thanks guys
    Some really good leads there! I can clearly see sugar beach on google earth. The 2 cdo war diary refers to several 'hill numbers' and 6 figure grid refs, I'd love to try and pin point these

  8. keravnios

    keravnios New Member

    Hello Belly,
    I live in Himara (near Sarande) and if you like, I would be glad to guide you through the exact places of operations. Himara was also the last front of the Hellenic-Italian war of 1940 (with a short walk at Skoutaras hill, you can still find lots of interesting metallic stuff), so there is more to this area than the operations you mention. I have a map of the whole area created in 1939 by the Greek "Army Geographical Agency". Although the area is touristic, I've never seen any visitor interested in something more than the beach and sun so I am glad I read this post.
  9. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    Good stuff, Jason!

    Now, how come you don't come with stuff like this on, say, the Arakan, a bit more often? :biggrin:
  10. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    Cheers mate, it's just that some stuff is for me easier to find.... However challenge accepted keep thine eyes peeled!
  11. Ronnie Ruston

    Ronnie Ruston Member

    Did anybody get in touch with Keravnios (April 2013)? My father was wounded in the raid on Spilje in July 1944 and I would like to visit.
  12. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    Keravnios is only shown as logging onto this website once in April 2013. Members can use private messages (PM) and there is no obligation to update this thread if they did. You do not have access to PM until you have posted five times. I will PM him in a moment asking to check this thread, assuming his email address used to register remains valid, let alone considering it is nine years later. Standby!
  13. Ronnie Ruston

    Ronnie Ruston Member

    Thanks David - I don't hold out much hope but to find the battlefield/area will need local knowledge and naturally there won't be anybody still alive but often these things are passed on verbally and a local may know more. My father was wounded and I'd just like to imagine what it would be like to be in action at roughly the spot where he was wounded. And of course there is the beach nearby and it would be a more interesting holiday than Benidorm or Southend!

    thanks for quick response.
  14. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

  15. Ronnie Ruston

    Ronnie Ruston Member

    I've booked my flights and will visit Spilje in early July.
  16. Ronnie Ruston

    Ronnie Ruston Member

    I visited Himara and stayed there 2 days. I had the map of the raid from Kew National Archives and although it is now quite heavily built up as a coastal resort the topography doesn't change and it was relatively easy to pinpoint the landing beach head and the objectives. Driving to the villa I stayed at in Himara for 2 days was tricky and hairy enough but walking was even harder. Extremely steep and very, very hot. It was a mistake in the raid to use the wirelesses with antennas as they would not penetrate the tightly grouped olive trees. The actual raid is NOT really remembered in Himara and information is almost non-existent. I firmly believe this is because under Hoxha 1944-1985 the country was an isolated communist block similar to North Korea and East Germany at the time. Over 5,000 people were executed as political enemies of the state and many thousands imprisoned. They were fed propaganda which didn't include Allied involvement. Basically 2 generations missed out on this bit of history. I didn't hear any English being used and most Albanians only know a few words. Those in the tourist industry and youngsters speak it better but know nothing and/or come from different parts of Albania.
    My respect for those involved has soared. The terrain was as big an enemy as the Germans. A double whammy. I also spent 2 days in Tirana and visited the War Graves cemetery there. No commandos but 5 dead from the Highland Light Infantry and another from the the Royal Norfolk.
    Rob Crane and davidbfpo like this.

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