During World War II, tons of secret operations were conducted by both sides. While many were daring, some of them stand out as incredible, with mind-blowing operations that seem straight out of a historical thriller novel.
10. The Olterra
The plan sounds like something from a spy movie—to use a secret underwater base as a jumping-off point for launching and recovering midget submarines that would destroy British shipping. That’s exactly what the Italians planned and eventually executed. An Italian cargo ship, the Olterra, was stuck in Spain after World War II broke out and just happened to be anchored across the harbor from the British fortress at Gibraltar. Italy managed to secretly smuggle several tiny midget submarines through Spain and onto the Olterra as well as equipment to maintain the submarines. A hole was cut in the ship below the waterline to allow midget submarines and combat divers to secretly exit.
The first operation in December 1942 ended in disaster, with three deathsand two combat divers taken captive. However, a second operation in 1943was successful in sinking three cargo ships, and another operation later that year sunk three more. The British had their suspicions, given that the Olterrawas anchored right across the harbor from them, but never found out the truth until Italy surrendered to the Allies in 1943.
9. Operation Frankston
n December 1942, 10 British special forces soldiers were secretly sent to a French port to destroy things and otherwise cause mayhem. Their mode of transport? Canoes. Having realized that valuable war materials were flowing from Asia to Germany through the port of Bordeaux, the British decided that this choke point had to be stemmed. As more destructive ways of destroying the ships in the port could have caused civilian casualties, the British decided on a commando surgical strike. A royal marine came up with the insane plan of commandos paddling canoes into the port and sticking explosives onto the ships.
A British submarine surfaced off the French coast and launched five canoes, each carrying two commandos, for the strike. The port was hundreds of miles inland up a river, and the commandos had to paddle the whole way, taking several days to make the journey and hiding on the shore during the day. Only two of the boats managed to reach the safety of inland waters; two others capsized, and one disappeared. After reaching the harbor, the four remaining commandos blew up six ships.
Two of the commandos were captured and executed, but the other two were smuggled out of France and into Spain by French resistance members. The strike was a huge propaganda boost for the struggling Allies, and the Germans were forced to guard their ships more closely from then on, an increased expenditure of resources.
8. Operation Zeppelin
By 1944, the tide had turned against Nazi Germany, and Soviet troops were knocking at Germany’s door. In 1942, the Nazis had begun a series of operations designed to hinder the Red Army by starting anti-Soviet uprisings and otherwise messing with the Soviets. The Nazis were never very successful with these endeavors, but kept at them. Operation Zeppelin, the plot to assassinate Joseph Stalin in 1944, was part of this.
As part of the plot, two Soviet defectors were trained for the mission, equipped with special assassination tools, and given a myriad of false documentation to allow them to slip through Soviet lines, get into Moscow and close to Stalin, and kill him. Before the mission, the agents, a man and a woman, had gotten married to each other. The agents were inserted into the Soviet Union via a cargo plane, which crashed. However, the crew and the two agents were unharmed, and the agents set off on a motorcycle.
They would have reached Moscow, except that it was raining, and a guard at the first checkpoint they reached became suspicious because the two motorcycle riders headed toward Moscow were relatively dry despite the rain.
Read About The Remaining 7 Operations at ListVerse