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Operation Creek

9 Mar 1943


ww2dbaseOrganized by the Special Operations Executive (SOE), 18 men from the Calcutta Light Horse regiment was deployed to attack the German ship Ehrenfels, anchored in the Portuguese, hence neutral, Mormugao harbor in Goa, Portuguese India. Ehrenfels became a target when it was discovered that she was transmitting information on Allied ship movements to German submarines, which played a part in the sinking of 12 Allied ships in the Indian Ocean in early Mar 1943. Some of the 18 men sailed aboard the hopper barge Phoebe from Calcutta (now Kolkata) to Goa, while others traveled from Calcutta to Cochin (now Kochi) by train and boarded Phoebe there. Upon reaching Mormugao harbor in the night of 9 Mar 1943, the assault team infiltrated the German ship and detonated explosives. When British intelligence received word of the successful destruction of Ehrenfels, it sent an open message to announce that the British was about to invade Goa, which was a bluff. The crews of the other two German ships at Mormugao, Drachenfels and Braunfels, along with several Italian ships also present, scuttled their own ships to prevent British capture.

ww2dbaseThe attack was conducted covertly so that it would not create an international incident; the truth of the attack was not revealed to the public until 1978.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Update: Sep 2007

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Hobilar says:
19 Sep 2007 01:43:47 AM

James Leasor wrote the book Boarding Party: The Last Action of the Calcutta Light Horse in 1978, two years before The Sea Wolves was made a major Hollywood film starring David Niven, Gregory Peck, Trevor Howard and Roger Moore.

2. Anonymous says:
15 Dec 2009 07:46:06 AM

i need more information
3. Anonymous says:
27 Aug 2012 07:57:02 AM

The attack was no secret. My grandmother had told me that the British had carried out the attack much before the secrets were declassified.She lived opposite the city of Pangim The German consul in Pangim was kidnapped and taken to Belgaum where he was tortured to death and was not killed; as is allegedly shown him attacking the British police in the movie. His dog used to run from the residence to Miramar beach for many days after the incident looking or its master
4. Anonymous says:
3 Dec 2013 02:45:00 PM

According to the Leasor book, there was not space in
the raiding boat/tug for the raiders to travel from
Calcutta to Goa so the 20 middle-aged raiders
traveled by TRAIN to Bombay. The boat picked them
up from there and then headed south by sea to Goa.
Talk about good coordination!!!! And all knowing they would have no medals, no recognition. And non killed.
5. Dai Namite says:
2 Jan 2016 06:58:49 AM

Killing the German consul is totally justified he was engaged in espionage and a spy or would he prefer to see British merchant sailors killed
6. Mark Farmer says:
10 Mar 2016 01:52:46 PM

Much is made of the party being middle aged but my father, Darell Farmer was born in 1907 and so was only 35. He wasn't in the regular army like the rest of the males in his family had been for generations because he had lost an eye at school playing hockey. Further, he went on to ride as a jockey for a further 15 years and only gave up riding on the gallops in 1991, aged 83. He was amazed when James Leasor approached him for further information and needed a lot of convincing that enough time had passed that he was now free to talk. One of the party was so eccentric that he spent most of the voyage standing on his head! The river barge was truly terrible not least because it was not designed for the sea.
7. Mark Farmer says:
10 Mar 2016 01:58:33 PM

I would love to see an image of the brooch the Calcutta Light Horse fashioned to remember the raid. I believe it is a sea horse wearing a sun hat which I would guess to be a solar topi?
8. Mark Farmer says:
10 Mar 2016 02:34:38 PM

Shouldn't this subject be linked to or re-named Operation Creek?
9. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
14 Mar 2016 05:32:42 AM

Mark, the subject has been renamed based on your suggestion, thank you.
10. Jan Gallagher says:
5 Aug 2016 01:38:20 AM

My Uncle, Reginald Harding was also involved in Operation Creek, he was a member of the Calcutta Light Horse and had been living in India since 1924. He was born in 1904 in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England. Like Mark's Father he wanted to enlist in the Army but had broken his arm as a child and it had never been set properly. Also like Mark's Father he had been a jockey in India on the amateur course. In fact Hazel Harding (nee Bent) Reg's wife used to 'paper chase' with Darrell in Calcutta and mentions in her memoirs that Darrell nearly always won. Reg passed away in 1970, and I believe he only ever told my Father about Operation Creek in a letter. (My Father immigrated to Australia in 1926 at the age of 16) Reg's daughters never knew until I finally traced them last year in the UK and sent them my Father's memoirs. How I wish I had asked questions. Reg was awarded an OBE in 1943, he was at the time a Supply Officer for the Civil Defence Department, Government of India. He and his family returned to the UK in 1946. I do have a photograph of the Calcutta Light Horse but have no idea of what year it was taken, Reg sent it to my Father.
11. stephen dorril says:
15 Oct 2018 02:56:57 AM

Could Jan Gallagher contact me please as I am in interested in certain aspects of this operation.
Author stephendorril@rogerdog.demon.co.uk
12. David Shannon says:
4 Mar 2021 12:28:19 PM

Looking for information as to whether my father Ian Shannon took any part in the raid. He was based in Calcutta at the time but missing for the duration of the raid until turning up in Bombay immediately afterwards.
13. sandeep gupta says:
22 Feb 2022 02:34:21 AM

This Operation Creek was never heard in Indian history, in relation to WW II action in India.

But somehow it seems incomprehensible for an assault force to sail on a barge all the way covering whole Indian peninsula from Calcutta to Goa. Any link to the Book by James Leasor ?

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