The SIG: behind the lines with Jewish commandos

The British forces in the Second World War spawned many ‘special’, or uncon? ventional units. Some were well known, such as the Army Commandos, the SAS (Special Air Service) and the LRDG (Long Range Desert Group). But among the most ambitious, daring and mysterious were the Jewish commandos of the SIG.

Colonel Terence Airey – who ran G(R) Branch (formerly Military Intelligence Research at the War Office in London) – wrote in March 1942 that part of the recently disbanded No. 51 Middle East (Jewish) Commando, consisting of many German-speaking Palestinian Jews, was to be formed into ‘a Special German Group as a sub-unit of M E Commando . . . with the cover name “Special Interrogation Group”, to be used for infiltration behind the German lines in the Western Desert, under 8th Army … the strength of the Special Group would be approximately that of a platoon’.1 The letter

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