Balkis I was a joint operation with the French Commandos of Commandant
Bouvet. An OG team of two officers and nine enlisted men was selected
to join and serve as an integral part of the French unit of one hundred
personnel. The French were to provide two diesel torpedo boats and six
large rubber landing boats.This was supported by the OGs furnishing
intelligence they had on the island, "D" rations, 100 pounds
of plastic explosives with detonating equipment and radio equipment
to provide communications with Bastia headquarters.
To conduct a raid on the island of Pianosa for the main purpose of capturing
prisoners. If the conditions were found to be favorable, a team would
remain on the island to round up remaining enemy, collect intelligence
regarding neighboring enemy occupied islands, and to establish an observation
post to service the Navy and Air Force.
The French operational plan had selected a landing place in a cove on
the southern side of the island where the torpedo boats would be used
to deploy a landing party to establish a beachhead. This to be followed
by the landing of the troops aboard the rubber boats, with mission assignments
to include the establishment of an on-shore command post with two main
sections. One section to attack the German barracks with an attempt
to capture the German Commanding Officer and destroy their communications
to Elba and/or the mainland of Italy. The other section to protect the
rear of the first section and to seize strong points on Punta Pulpito
and Teretta San Marco.
In preparation for the mission joint landing exercises
were held on two consecutive nights in the vicinity of St. Florent in
Corsica. And at 2200 hours on February 28, 1944 landfall on Pianosa
was made; only to be aborted about two hours later.
The OG team's end of mission report suggests the
following among reasons for the failure of the mission:
(a) Insufficient awareness of adverse sea conditions.
(b) Delay of one and a half hours reaching the pinpoint area.
(c) Initial landing at wrong site.
(d) Sea-sickness of troops resulting from their
being transported below deck.
(e) Errors in launching rubber boats, which because
of distance paddling, caused fatique and additional sea-sickness.
Summary written from EOM reports in National
Archives RG2226, Entry99