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Balkis I
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  Ginny II  
  Walla Walla  
  5th Army Detach.  

On February 28, 1944, in accordance with "Ordre d" Operation" from General Martin, a unit of the French Commandos of approximately 120 officers and men was joined by an OG section of 3 officers and 10 enlisted men to mount a raid on the Island of Pianosa. The objective of the raid was to capture prisoners; and if conditions were found to be favorable, to establish an observation post on the island. For a number of reasons the operation was aborted soon after landing on the island. (See Balkis I summary). Balkis II was a second attempt to mount that raid but with no consideration to establish an observation post. Withdrawal from the island was to be made no later than 0700 hours following landing.

After the Balkis I shortfall OG and Commando leaders held a number of conferences to deal with the problems which were deemed responsible for the need to abort that mission. With new plans for a second attempt French Commandant Bouvet and the commander of his naval unit made a reconnaisance of the landing area two nights before the Balkis II raid on Pianosa, which was mounted on 17 March 1944.

The French unit of approximately 120 officers and enlisted men, with an OG section of 3 officers and 10 enlisted men departed Bastia at 1735 hours aboard two sub-chasers, escorted by four torpedo boats. Landfall on Pianosa by the lead party was made at 2220 hours with all units ashore by 2335 hours. With command post established near the landing area where it would remain to provide communications as well as security for departure from the beachead, the three raid elements, identified as East, Central and West, moved out toward their targets. East Patrol, the largest unit, had the mission to attack the town of Pianosa, destroy the barracks where it was believed the German troops were housed: to capture prisoners, hopefully the German commanding officer; and if time permitted, destroy the cable communication between Pianosa and Elba or the mainland of Italy. Also, time permitting, this patrol was to reconnoiter and neutralize, if possible, the Sembolello prison and the Belvedere Semephore station. The smaller patrols, in supporting roles included the Central Patrol mission to raid the Giudice penetentiary, and if time permitted, reconnoiter the Podere del Gardon prison hospital - this to take prisoners for intelligence purposes. West Patrol was to take control of Punta Pulpito and Toretta San Marco and take any prisoners resulting in this raid.

Roads were avoided in making way toward their targets; and the dense waist high growth of small trees and shrubs slowed their progress. At approximately 0210 hours the Central Patrol came to a farm building where they found an Italian civilian who informed that all Germans were bivouaced in the village. The patrol then proceeded to their target, the penetentiary, reaching it about 0300 hours. Finding no resistance, they took twelve prison guards as prisoners and returned to the sub-chaser to re-embark with the prisoners. Meanwhile, the East Patrol shattered the targetted barracks killing several Germans, but discovered the majority of the Germans were barricaded in the walled inner-town bordering the port. It was then judged that, because of the time and the understanding that the Germans were armed with a mortar, a cannon and several light machine guns, it would be impossible to clean them out of their position within the time limit fixed for the mission's departure. After notifying Bastia of the situation and announcing their plans to withdraw, East Patrol with the twenty four Italian guards as prisoners withdrew to the beachhead. Meanwhile, West Patrol having searched their targets and finding them to be vacant, had already returned to the beachhead.

The Sub-chasers with all troops and their prisoners aboard departed the landing area at the fixed hour of 0700 as allied planes, in accordance with plan, laid down defensive fire on the beachhead.

Summary written from EOM reports in National Archives RG2226



Captain Nathan Wentworth
Lt. Elvia Seidner
S/Sgt. Chester Gallinari
Sgt. Bernie A. Ballone
Cpl. Carl LoDolce
Cpl. Leroy Blardinelli
Cpl. William Frederico
Cpl. Ralph Amato
Cpl. Wilson M. Berta
T/5 Anthony DeNino
T/5 Mario Forte
T/5 Carlo Racano

Capt. Donald Wentzel (boat party as Navy liaison)






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