Let’s get this list going.
As an observation and a nod, not a criticism (of course) of our Vice President Joe Biden – who observed that, “You can go back 500 years. You cannot find a more audacious plan. Never knowing for certain. We never had more than a 48 percent probability that he was there.”
Because this will be a list, compiled into one blog post, whatever you put in the comments (respectfully and to the point of the post) we will incorporate into the post – then delete. Please submit your comments to us here or via firstname.lastname@example.org or give us your submissions via Twitter or Facebook . And when the first 500 hits it, [UPDATE]: WE WILL MAKE A BRACKET COMPETITION.
Give us your best of the best who were audacious – winners or losers – those who dared. We will update the list daily, no repeats – so dig deep when your favorite has already been mentioned.
Listed in order of submission and raw commentary (and without attribution and to protect the innocent):
500. SEAL mission per Vice President Joe Biden: Audacious on the part of our Commander in Chief, President Obama.
499. Japanese attack on Pearl was an Orange/Blue war-gamer exercise 6 or 7 years before 1941.
498. Entebbe, anyone? Or one might even argue that the raid on Bin Laden’s compound would not have been possible without the lessons learned from the even more audacious (if ultimately unsuccessful) plan of Operation Eagle Claw.
497. Lets start early. 1519 Hernan Cortez landed 600 Spaniards and about a dozen horses at Cozumel. He BURNED HIS SHIPS so there was no way to escape, and he and his men had to fight to the death. He led his men to destroy the entire Aztec Empire something that no invader had done in over 6 centuries. In the process he actually convinced the Aztecs that he was THEIR GOD.
496. Henry V at Agincourt – Nope, too early.
496. (Do-over) ”Kedging“- How USS Constitution Sailors evaded 170 guns of HMS Africa, Shannon, Belvidera & Aeolus!
Dare I say George Washington before the Battle of Trenton? Christmas Day 1776.
George Washington Crosses the Delaware in the dark of night to attack the British in Trenton.
For me there is one and only one #1. Without it an army driffs away, an idea dies, a piece of paper signed at the greatest personal risk becomes meaningless. General George Washington’s decision to attack Trenton on the morning after Christmas 1776 with a night march of impossible proportions couples not only audaciousness, but the greatest risk. For me it is the single most important moment without even a close second in American history, and for the idea of freedom as the world knows it today, possibly. My own telling here: http://
494, Eben Emael and the raid to free Mussolini
493. CDR “Red” Ramage, USS Parche, Pacific, 1944: as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Parche http://
492. Col Robin Olds, Operation BOLO Mig Sweep, North Vietnam, 1967 http://user.icx.net/
491. Doolittle Raid Doolittle Raid, 1942…(while a japanese radio broadcast stated, almost to the moment of the attack, how Japan would never be attacked, with air raid sirens suddenly going off-a “baghdad bob” moment)…which in turn, caused grave consternation, and thus triggered rash action by the Imperial Japanese Navy, resulting in catastrophic loss at Midway, with which they would lose their offensive initiative for the remainder of the war…despite efforts to regain it at Guadalcanal and others.
490. Admiral David Farragut leads his ships into Mobile Bay, 1864. Approaching the mine field laid by the Confederates the USS Tecumseh (first in the battle line) hit a mine and exploded, shocking the entire fleet. The USS Brooklyn stopped dead in the water, and the Captain asked the Admiral for instructions. Farragut ordered his ship, the Hartford, to steam around the Brooklyn and take the lead, signaling his forces “Damn the Torpedoes…Full speed ahead!” The entire column of 14 ships passed safely through the mine field and took Mobile.
489. April 22, 1778. At 11 p.m. on this day in 1778, Commander John Paul Jones leads a small detachment of two boats from his ship, the USS Ranger, to raid the shallow port at Whitehaven, England, where, by his own account, 400 British merchant ships are anchored.
488. Captain Charles Stewart of USS Constitution taking on two warships simultaneously in February 1815.
487. Though unsuccessful, Desert One was audacious.
486. How USS Constitution Sailors evaded 170 guns of HMS Africa, Shannon, Belvidera & Aeolus!
485. Berlin Airlift
482. Market Garden (for a not-so-successful example)
481.Camp Century Greenland, 1959-1966.http://
480. Manstein Plan, France 1940 (replaced the original von Schlieffen plan), bait the allies into the low countries, cut them in half, and take the entire region in 6 weeks.
479. 1588, english channel, England vs Spain. English ships, more maneuverable, chipped away at the snds of the Spanish Armada’s ships (arranged in an arcing format) instead of taking them head-on. Forced the Spanish ships into disorder, and over a few days, whittled them down to near-insignificance…forc
Audacious to say the least.
478. 1970, USAF and Army Special operations crash land an HH-3 helicopter in the middle of the Son Tay prison complex in North Vietnam in an attempt to rescue 65 American POWs. The operation is carried out perfectly, but the prisoners were moved a few months earlier to different accommodations.
477. Operation Dynamo, the “miracle of Dunkirk” in WW2
476. Battle of the River Plate, 1939. One of the greatest psyche-outs in naval annals. Spee literally pulverized UK’s Ajax, Achillies(NZ), and Exeter. One’s fire control was out, another’s main gunnery was out, the third was mauled but intact. GS was also damaged, and thinking the UKs 3 were still coming after him (most would’ve broke off by then), he made for Montevideo…where he was told to leave within 72hours. GS was relatively intact, despite some damage, and could have re-engaged. Thinking there were more heavies coming (via the radio traffic of the 3, who remained, even though they would have been cut to pieces had the GS came out to face them), Capt Langsdorf scuttled the Graf Spee without a battle. 3 days later he shot himself. Sheer audacity, and well executed…using nothing but guile.(the truly genius strategist finds ways to war without battle-Sun Tzu)
475. The bayonet charge of Joshua Chamberlain on July 2, 1863 at Little Round Top during the Gettysburg battle.
474. Bridge at Dong Ha
473. 1918 Battle of Belleau Wood
472. June 1995 rescue of Scott O’Grady
471. Battle of the Bulge, with the Germans scraping up enough armor, soldiers and fuel to give the US and Allied Armies a real good scare
470. USS ENGLAND taking the bull by the horns, and sinking 6 Japanese subs in less than 2 weeks.
469. Eugene Fluckey sending a landing party ashore from BARB, to mine the rail line near Kaihyo To, and blew up a 16 car Japanese train.
468. The voyage of the SEEADLER, where Felix Von Luckner carried out a successful voyage of commerce raiding, without anyone on either side getting killed.
467. The battle Cowpens where Morgan put his back to the river, trusted the militia to fire two shots and trounced Tarleton.
466. Vincennes where Clark crossed swamp and woods in the middle of winter to seize the town from Hamilton
465. Vicksburg Campaign where Grant cuts his supplies and moves towards Jackson without communication with the rest of the world
464. Grierson’s Raid during Vicksburg. Crossing through enemy territory and tying up Confederate forces that could’ve been used against Grant.
463. The seizure of the Altmark by boarding party in Norway
462. Raid on Scapa Flow by Prien sinking the Royal Oak
461. Sherman’s march through Georgia.
460. The Keyes Raid. This was the SAS attempt to assasinate Rommel during the African Campaign during WWII.
459. The First Marine Division captures Inchon (can’t give Mac too much credit)
458 & 457. Norm Hatch would be highly disappointed if Tarawa and Iwo Jima weren’t mentioned. Hell, the entire Pacific island hopping campaign can be lumped into one number.
456 – 452. Not all audacious plans were formed by the “good guys”
- Edward Teach blockades Charleston, SC in 1718.
- Henry Morgan takes Panama with 1400 men in 1671.
- Drake’s raid on Cadiz in 1584.
- Barbarossa captures Capri in 1535
451. Operation Frankton 11 Dec 1942: Royal Marines in kayaks attack German shipping in Bordeaux Harbour.
450. Trafalgar 21 Oct 1805: Nelson cuts through the centre of the Combined Fleet line overpowering the rear section before the remainder can reverse course and bring superior numbers to bear on his Mediterranean Squadron.
449. Operation Judgement 11 Nov 1940: Centrepiece of a complex series of operations across the Mediterranean. 21 Royal Navy Swordfish biplanes, flying at night, destroy half the Italian battlefleet in Taranto Harbour.
448. Operation Chastise 16-17May 1943: 617 Squadron RAF Bomber Command attacks and breaches the Mohne and Eder Dams in Germany.
447. Operation Mercury 20 May 1941: German Fallschirjager invade Crete.
446. Operation Weserubung 6 Apr 1940: German invasion of Norway, despite lacking naval superiority.
445. Russian Baltic Fleet voyage 1904-1905: Baltic Fleet under Admiral Rozhestvenski attempts reinforce the Pacific Squadron, then under seige by Japan at Port Arthur, by making an unprecedented 18,000 mile, round-the-world voyage despite epic deficiencies in materiel, training and logistics. Rozhestvenski’s reward for this feat? Wounded and captured in the catastrophic defeat at Tsushima and court martialled upon his return to Russia.
444. Operation Rheinübung – German Battleship Bismarck and Battlecruiser Prinz Eugen surface raid in the Atlantic. The operation was supposed to include three other battleships (Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Tirpitz – the first two were undergoing repairs and the third was not complete/prepared), but Großadmiral Raeder ordered the operation to commence without them, and he did so behind Hitler’s back.
443. The British response to Operation Rheinübung. After the Bismarck sank the Battlecruiser HMS Hood, Churchill ordered the Royal Navy to “Sink the Bismarck.” The Royal Navy diverted nearly every vessel in the fleet to converge on the Bismarck, abandoning convoys in the process.
442. Stephen Decatur and the burning of USS Philadelphia. Acclaimed by Nelson as the “the most bold and daring act of the Age.”
441. Battle of Tsushima
440. H.L. Hunley sinks USS Housatonic off Charleston – 17 Feb, 1864. An audacious first.
439. Presley O’Bannon and his detachment of 2 midshipmen and seven Marines marching on Tripoli.
438. Recon of Wewak Harbor, New Guinea by LCDR Dudley Morton and USS Wahoo using an Australian school Atlas bought in a used book store for the coastal and harbor charts.
437. USS Halibut SSN 587. Nuff said.
436. “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
435. The Tet Offensive. Gambled everything on a single make-or-break operation, lost a substantial portion of their insurgents, and it worked… Strategic success off what could only be considered a tactical failure.
434. Project Excelsior – Joseph Kittinger jumping from 102,800 feet.
433. Richard Zarvona, dressed in a hoop skirt and wig going by the name Madame LaForte, captured the steamer St. Nicholas after departing Baltimore on 28 July 1861, with a dozen Confederate sympathizers dressed as women and other disguises.
432. To go a bit more modern, how about Operation Ivy Bells?
431. Battle of Manila(1898)430. Defense of Rorke’s Drift(1879)
429. Defense of the Alamo(1836)428. Invasion of Kuwait(1990)
427. Operation Desert Storm(1991) [Normally, we think of it like an overkill and that we had it in the bag. According to many, it didn't feel like that on the ground. Planning - and luck - paid off.]
426. Operation Tomagachi
425. USS BARB (SS-220) (again)“On 22–23 January Barb penetrated Namkwan Harbor on the China coast and wrought havoc upon a convoy of some 30 enemy ships at anchor.Maneuvering in dangerously shallow waters, Barb launched her torpedoes into the enemy group and then retired at high speed on the surface in a full hour’s run through uncharted, heavily mined, and rock-obstructed waters. In recognition of this outstanding patrol, Commander Fluckey was awarded the Medal of Honor and Barb received the Presidential Unit Citation.”
424. Gen. Patton’s drive to relieve Bastogne-Army , Midway- Navy- superior U.S. Planning defeated a superior Japanese Force, Rolling Thunder- Air Force- end of war became a reality, Iwo Jima-Marines-unprecidented
423. Operation Eagle Claw
422. Cabanatuan POW camp raid.
421. Benedict Arnold’s Expedition to Quebec (1775).
420 & 419.
For strategic audacity? How about island-hopping in the Pacific? Common wisdom at that point called for eliminating the Japanese strongpoints, not bypassing them…
For tactical, the charge of the “little boys” at Samar comes to mind.
418. With the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 upon us, anyone care to mention the Battle of New Orleans?
417. Operation Source 22 Sept 1943: Royal Navy X-Craft midget submarines attack and disable the German battleship Tirpitz in Kaa Fjord, Norway.
416. Italian Regia Marina attack on Alexandria 19 Dec 1941: Attack using “Chariot” manned torpedoes sinks HMS Queen Elizabeth & HMS Valiant at their moorings in Alexandria Harbour, disabling the main battleship strength of the British Mediterranean Fleet. Fortunately the harbour is shallow enough that normal routine and appearances can be maintained and the Italians are fooled into thinking the ships remain operational
415. Dover Patrol raids on Zeebrugge and Ostend 23 Apr 1918: Attempt to block German held Belgian harbours by sinking old ships as blockships.
414. Operation Chariot 27 Mar 1942: Destruction of the Normandie Dock at St. Nazaire, France by Royal Navy and Commandos by sailing an old 4-stacker, HMS Campbeltown – ex USS Buchanan – packed with explosive, into the dock gates.
413. Attack on the Bolshevik Baltic Fleet at Kronstadt 18 Aug 1919: Coastal Motor Boats under Commander Claude Dobson penetrate the heavily defended harbour and cripple the Russian battleships Petropavlovsk and Andrei Pervozvanny.
412. 14 members of the SBS (the Royal Navy’s version of the SAS), paddle canoes into the fjords of Norway to attach limpet mines to the Tirpitz in an attempt to sink her.
411. The Raid on Dieppe (a failure, but it taught the allies alot for the D-Day invasion 2 years later).
410. Israeli theft of the original Sa’ar boats from Cherbourg and sailing them back to Israel for outfitting and later dominance of both Syrian and Egyptian navies in the ’73 war. http://www.amazon.com/Boats-Cherbourg-Bluejacket-Books/dp/1557507147
409. Operation Opera (a.k.a. Operation Babylon), Israel’s attack on the nuclear reactor at Osirak
Hate to say this one, but Al Qaeda’s attack on Sept. 11, 2001, does qualify.
And sadly, there was the attack on the USS Cole.
And while I’m on the subject of giving the enemy credit for audacity: There was the attack on Kandahar Air Field when I was there in August 2010 that comprised trying to breech the fenceline with 7 insurgents and a tractor. Needless to say, it wasn’t successful, nor was it smart, but it was audacious.
And although the media back home played it up as a lack of stabilization in the region, it showed the enemy’s desperation more than anything else.
405 – 395
- LT William B. Cushing’s attack on CSS Albermarle
- Rescue of survivors from USS Squalus
- First voyage of CSS Arkansas
- Submersible Turtle’s attack on HMS Eagle
- Lindberg’s solo flight
- Earhart’s attempted solo flight
- Submersible CSS Hunley’s sinking of USS Housatonic
- 11th war patrol of USS Barb
- First war patrol of USS Tirante
- USS Bonhomme Richard v. HMS Serapis
- Battle of Lake Champlain
- LZ XRAY- la Drang Valley Nov. 1965…the defining moment for mounted air calvary in my opinion.
- May I add for Iwo Jima after the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi, Secretary Forrestal said…”this guarantees a Marine Corps for the next 500 years.” This is a defining moment for the Corps with due respect to what came before and after in my opinion. BZ MARINES!
392 – 390
- Operation Black Buck. Vulcan bomber attack on Port Stanley Airport 1982
- Operation Squabble. Bristol Beaufighter from 236 Squadron’s raid on Paris on 12th June 1942 when they dropped tricolour on Arc de Triomphe.
- Operation Gunnerside. Norwegian and SOE raid on Norsk Hydro’s Vemork hydroelectric plant to sabotage heavy water production. 1943
388. Add ‘Operation Vengance’ the P-38 mission over previously unimagined distances, precision timing and security to kill Adm Yamamoto. Complete success and most importantly kept the secret of Japanese code breaking.
387. Napoleon’s escape from Elba and the 100 days.
386. Nimitz’s decision to rely on the deductions and assumptions of one man, himself something of a pariah in his community, and that man’s talented group, to develop the concept of operations that led to the victory at Midway: Joe Rochefort. Audacious, indeed.
The attempt by the CIA, with Howard Hughes’ assistance, to raise an entire Soviet missile-armed submarine from the depths of the ocean.
Operation Jennifer, the plan to raise the K-129 off the bottom of the Pacific.
My wife suggests one the most audacious ops of all time – Project Azorian, the recovery of the K-129.
384. In 1940, North American Aviation approached the RAF to sell B-25 Mitchell bombers. RAF asked NAA to build licensed copies of the Curtiss P-40. NAA refused but committed to plan and build an entirely new fighter for the RAF. One hundred and two days after the contract was signed, the first P-51 Mustang rolled out.
383 – 380. (Only four count, but preserving the list)
- The Sicilian expediton by the Athenians. (Total disaster but still audacious.) (Doesn’t count > 500 years)
- William the Conquerer’s invasion of England in 1066.(Doesn’t count > 500 years)
- Stonewall Jackson’s Valley campaign.
- Battle of Port Arthur in 1904: The Pearl Harbor of the Russian Japanese War.
- MacArthur’s Inchon Landing, July 22nd 1950 (mentioned above)
- The launch of Operation Barbarossa: June 22nd 1941. In terms of sheer size this has got to be at the top of the list.
- Smedly Butler’s capture of Cacos in Haiti, in 1915. He led a handful of Marines through a well into the fort. The well was so small they could only bring knifes and handguns. They had one injured but captured or killed 200 enemy and the fort.
- Li Shimin’s victory at Hulao Pass in 621 AD. David Graff called this the Thermoplaye of Chinese history. (Doesn’t count > 500 years)
- The siege of Xiangyang by Kublai Khan in 1273. An epic and decisive battle that broke the back of the Southern Song Dynasty. (Doesn’t count > 500 years)
- Hannibal crossing the Alps in the Second Punic War.(Doesn’t count > 500 years)
- Subotai’s campaign against ther Persians.(Doesn’t count > 500 years)
- Pizarro’s conquest of the Incas.(Doesn’t count > 500 years)
To your list I want to add the following:
The capture of Emilio Aguinaldo: In March 1901 General Frederick Funston captured guerrila leader Emilio Aguinaldo in his headquarters several hundred miles away from US forces with 83 Philippine Scouts, a Spaniard and five Americans all disguised as guerrillas. Aguinaldos capture nearly ended the Philippine insurrection.
Operation Longcloth: In February 1943 General Orde Wingate lead the 77 Indian Infantry Brigade, the Chindits, on a land raid into the Burmese jungle. The 3.000 men, divided into seven flying columns, operated three months behind Japanese lines cutting important railway lines, relying on air supply and living off the jungle. In April only 2.182 men reached India or China in small groups after severe losses. Of these another 600 remained permanently unfit for service for medical reasons. While strategically of doubtful results the operation raised morale with the Army of India.
377. Colonel Paul L. Freeman and the 23rd Infantry Regiment at the Battle of Chipyong-ni, Korea, 1951
376. Jeb Stuart’s ride around the Union army.
375-373 I offer the following:
- Mosby’s audacious raid of 8-9 March 1863, on Fairfax CH, Virginia, capturing BG Edwin Stoughton, two captains, 30 other prisoners, 58 horses…all without firing a shot.
- 1st Lt. Bennett Henderson Young’s raid on St. Albans, Vermont, 19 October 1864 and their successful withdrawal into Canada.
- Sgt. Alvin C. York, 8 October 1918, singlehandedly killed 25 and captured 132 Germans.
372. The 1st Marine Division’s breakout from the Chosin reservoir during the Korean war. This yielded 2 great quotes. The first was from MG Oliver P. Smith, the division commander: “We aren’t retreating. We’re attacking in another direction.” The second was from the 7th Marine Regiment’s Co, Chesty Puller: :We were looking for the enemy. We are surrounded. That simplifies the problem.”
371. Calcutta Light Horse Calvary (civilian vounteers) sinking of German communication ships in Goa during WWII, ending U-boat threat in Indian Ocean. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcutta_Light_Horse
370. The breaking of the sound barrier by Chuck Yeager and the team behind him
369. The Second Infantry Division’ seizure of Blanc Mont on 4 October 1918…a battle plan so audacious and daring that, when that day was over, both Foch and Petain both said it was the most astounding victory of the war.
368. Cromwell’s outflanking of the Scots in July 1651 by launching a seaborne invasion of Fife at North Queensferry. The defeat at Inverkeithing forced Leslie to march south into England and into Cromwell’s prepared trap.
367. Capture of Ludendorff Bridge (Bridge at Remagen) last intact bridge across Rhine into Germany
366. Operation Mincemeat aka The man who never was. Deception plan from 1943 to hide plans for invasion of Sicily from Germans
365. Merrill’s Marauders in WWII China-Burma-India.
364. Claire Chennault’s Flying Tigers. From the standpoint of logistics, flying supplies to China over the Himalayas (hell hath no fury like flying the hump).
363. Henry Kaiser’s building of the Liberty Ships in WWII.
362. The development of the landing craft by Higgins, with an assist from a then-obscure Marine Lt. Col. named Victor Krulak.
361. Semmes and the CSS Alabama’s voyage of commerce raiding. “Upon the completion of her seven expeditionary raids, Alabama had been at sea for 534 days out of 657, never visiting a single Confederate port. She boarded nearly 450 vessels, captured or burned 65 Union merchant ships, and took more than 2,000 prisoners without a single loss of life from either prisoners or her own crew.”
359. Operation Matador and Brian Stann.
358. The USAAF raid on the oil facilities at Ploesti.
357 – 350. What is the space program, if not audacious? I would count as separate examples each of the following:
6 manned Project Mercury missions
2 X-15 flights by test pilot Joseph Walker that reached space
10 manned Project Gemini missions
11 manned Apollo missions
6 manned Vostok missions
2 manned Voskhod missions
66 manned Soyuz missions
135 manned Space Shuttle missions
349. 1718 – Lieutenant Robert Maynard, RN took the sloop Ranger south from Hampton, Virginia on the commission of the Governor in search of the infamous Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard the Pirate. He had only small arms on Ranger and no cannon, and ran aground in the shallows near Ocracoke Island. He never gave up and still managed to lure the pirates into trying to board his ship. His crew sprung a trap from where they hid in the Ranger’s hold and boarded Teach’s ship. Maynard personally engaged the pirate in hand to hand combat with cutlass and pistol, killing him and taking his severed head back to Hampton for the Governor.
348 & 347. 1772 – February, 1898 – Audacious planning from Washington D.C. After the USS Maine exploded in Havana harbor Secretary of the Navy Long takes the day off to deal with all the stress of the situation. He leaves the Assistant Secretary of the Navy in charge…Theodore Roosevelt. ASECNAV Roosevelt immediately puts the service on a war footing: purchasing coal, moving ammunition, accelerating repair schedules, and asking Congress to move to start general enlistment. He called on Admiral Dewey and consulted and gave him his objectives. Secretary Long came back to work with the U.S. Navy (and therefore the country) ready to go to war. A war that would introduce the United States as a world power, sent to enforce the King’s tax policies on the Colonies, onto a sand bar off Namquid Point, Rhode Island. Abraham Whipple leads eight longboats full of Colonial Patriots against the British warship and takes the ship, moving her crew ashore and burning her to the waterline. The success of the mission helped to swing public sentiment toward the idea of Colonial independence.
346. July 4th 1776 patriotic men sign the Declaration of Independence because it is the right thing to do. Put thier very lives at risk and making them the number 1 enemies of the then most powerful goverment in the world. God bless America!
345. 1772 – The merchant sloop Hannah lures the HMS Gaspee, sent to enforce the King’s tax policies on the Colonies, onto a sand bar off Namquid Point, Rhode Island. Abraham Whipple leads eight longboats full of Colonial Patriots against the British warship and takes the ship, moving her crew ashore and burning her to the waterline. The success of the mission helped to swing public sentiment toward the idea of Colonial independence.
344. The other USS PARCHE (SSN-683) Nuff said
343. A horrible event, and one for the bad guys, but the 1972 PLO attack on the Munich Olympics.
342. T.E. Lawrence leads the Arab Revolt across the Nefu Desert to take Aqaba by land. As Claude Rains said, “Before he did it, sir, I’d have said it couldn’t be done.”
341. The capture of Nazi submarine U-505 by a boarding party as the sub was sinking.
340. Isreals invasion of Eygpt in 1967, the Six Day War.
339. 1942, LT Butch O’Hare single-handedly takes on and destroys 5 Japanese Betty Bombers in defense of the USS Lexington. With limited ammunition, LT O’Hare takes out the bombers with only 60 rounds each. An unheard of feat in accuracy that saves the USS Lexington, and for which LT O’Hare is awarded the Medal of Honor.
338. Taffy 3 in the Battle of SAMAR October 25, 1944. Seven Tin Cans and six carrier escorts took on Adm. Takae Kurita on the great Yamato and twenty-two other ships in defense of 11,400 US Marines on the beach.
337. Digging of the Panama Canal, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans? Sounds pretty audacious to me.
336. Prince Charles Edward Stuart landed in Scotland in July 1745 with only seven men to reclaim his father’s throne. Within 2 months he had raised the Jacobite Highland army, routed the British army at Prestonpans and occupied Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh. Within another three months he was 150 miles from London. It was all downhill for Bonnie Prince Charlie after that. The planning may not have been great but the sheer audacity of trying to capture an empire with seven men must take some beating.
335. During the War of the First Coalition the French cavalry charge across the ice to capture the Dutch Fleet.
334. Battle of Chapultepec
333. How about Operation Compass, the attack by the British Western Desert Force on the Italians from Dec 1940 to Feb 1941. 36,000 British and Commonwealth troops taking on 150,000 Italian troops, and beating the Italians soundly. The final tally was approximately 2000 killed, missing and wounded for the British vs. 120,000 killed, wounded and missing for the Italians, and an 800 mile advance in ten weeks from the British starting positions in Egypt.
332. The Defense of the Mission Station at Rorke’s Drift, Natal Colony, January 22nd to the 23rd, 1879. Just over 150 British (largely from B Co., 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot) and colonial troops successfully defended the garrison against an intense assault by 3,000 to 4,000 Zulu warriors. The massive, but piecemeal, Zulu attacks on Rorke’s Drift came very close to defeating the tiny garrison but were ultimately repelled. In the 156 years since the Victoria Cross was first awarded for gallantry and extreme courage in the face of the enemy, only 1,356 have been awarded. Eleven of these were awarded to the defenders of the mission station at Rorke’s Drift, along with a number of other decorations and honours.
331. USS Pomfret (SS391) on 17 Feb 45 under command of LCDR John B. Hess, penetrated deep into Tokyo Bay to rescue a downed pilot from USS Cabot. This prompted Ernie Pyle to write a column titled EVEN IF YOU WERE SHOT DOWN IN TOKYO HARBOR THE NAVY WOULD BE IN TO GET YOU OUT!
330. Operation POCKET MONEY (8 May 1972): At precisely 09:00 (local time) on 8 May 1972 six Navy A-7 Corsair IIs and three A-6 Intruders from CORAL SEA’s Carrier Airwing FIFTEEN entered Haiphong harbor and dropped 36 1,000-pound Mark-52 and Mark-55 mines into the water. They were protected from attack by North Vietnamese MiG fighters by the guided-missile cruisers CHICAGO and LONG BEACH and by flights of F-4 Phantoms. The reason for the precise timing of the strike became apparent when President Nixon simultaneously delivered a televised speech explaining the escalation to the American people: “the only way to stop the killing is to take the weapons of war out of the hands of the international outlaws of North Vietnam.” The mines were activated five days after their delivery in order to allow any vessels then in port to escape without damage. Over the next three days other carrier aircraft laid 11,000 more mines into North Vietnamese secondary harbors, effectively blockading all maritime commerce.
329. 18th October 1977: Mogadishu, GSG-9 frees the LH181 “Landshut”
Taffy 3 would rank higher on my list. The weapons of the US destroyers were effective at five miles, the Japanese weapons were good for 15 miles. If memory serves, the fleets were 20 miles apart when Commander Emmons ordered the Johnston to attack.
A couple others:
The Marines on Guam and Wake Island.
Middle aged and arthritic Gen. T. Roosevelt Jr. going ashore in the first wave at Normany and immediately taking control of a landing that had become hopelessly snarled.
Bill Slim’s defense of Imphal in India, followed by his punishing pursuit of the Japanese and encirclement of Mandalay, which can only be described as the work of a military genius.
Truman firing McArthur.
323. “Charge of The Light Brigade” … nuff said!!
321. 10 Oct 1985: CVW-17 F-14s from VF-103 and VF-74, under the control of a VAW-125 E-2C, intercept the Egypt Air 737 bearing the hijackers of the Achille Lauro enroute to safe haven in Tunisia and re-direct it to NAS Sigonella.
320. Pizzaro in Peru is 1533/1534, so it IS inside (just) the 500 year cut off.
319. The Battle of Taranto Raid by the British in 1940, that became the precursor to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
318. The Magellan Star: Pirate Takedown, Force Recon Style http://blog.usni.org/2010/09/10/the-magellan-star/
317. Operation Rock Avalanche
314. William H. Dabney (0-80399), Colonel [then Captain], U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving as Commanding Officer of two heavily reinforced rifle companies of the Third Battalion, Twenty-Sixth Marines, THIRD Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam from 21 January to 14 April 1968. During the entire period, Colonel Dabney’s force stubbornly defended Hill 881S, a regional outpost vital to the defense of the Khe Sanh Combat Base.
313. The November, 2004 offensive into the city of Fallujah, Iraq—dubbed “Operation Phantom Fury”—placed the individuals involved into the renowned annals of Marine Corps narration. The young men that meticulously stormed into the city will forever have their own unique moniker: Fallujah Marines—a name that has involuntarily set them apart from other Iraq War veterans.
312. The defeat of the British frigate, HMS Guerriere, by her American counterpart, USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides” – on 19 August 1812, perhaps the most famous naval encounter of the War of 1812.
311. Coast Guard FV Alaska Ranger Rescue, Easter 2008. The Alaska Ranger goes under in 32 degree F water with 20′ swells. In blinding snowstorm conditions, Coast Guard helicopters and a nearby ship rescue 42 of the 47 crew members from the water
310. OCT 1812 – Just 4 months after the US Congress declared war on Great Britain, Lieutenant Jesse Elliot led a team of Sailors, Marines, and Regular Army in a pair of small boats to attack and take the HMS Detroit and Caledonia as they sat at anchor under the British controlled guns at Fort Erie…a shocking surprise to the Royal Navy and the first American victory on the Great Lakes.
309. Capt David Porter led the USS ESSEX around Cape Horn and into the Pacific during the War of 1812, opening a new maritime theater in the war as he attacked British whalers and merchants. Far from home and resupply he remained in the Pacific for a year, refitting and remanning captured whalers to increase his force, and using islands in the South Pacific for water, timber, food, and refit.
308. Dec.13, 1942 Admiral Callaghan attacks a Japanese force far larger than his own. The plan was not articulated, but I am convinced he held fire for as long as he did in an attempt to get in close enough so that his 8″ shells could penetrate the side armor of the Japanese battleships. (He would have know that they were built as Battle-cruisers and their side armor was relatively week.) the Hiei was lost because an 8″ shell penetrated side armor and destroyed her steering gear.
307. Operation Pedestal, August 1942. “The epic attempt to run some 80 ships past bombers, minefields and u-boats,” saved Malta, and was “one of the most important British victories of the Second World War.”http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2289714.stm
306. The Cologne Power Stations Raid, August 12, 1941. 54 Bristol Blenheim Bombers flew 250 miles during daylight to attack power stations near Cologne. 12 of the 54 aircraft were lost. It was described in the Daily Telegraph as the, “RAF’s most audacious and dangerous low-level bombing raid.”
305. The Battle of Cape St. Vincent, February 1797. Nelson singularly charges HMS Captain into seven Spanish ships, capturing two. Four Spanish ships are taken in total. Nelson is knighted and promoted to rear admiral.http://www.stvincent.ac.uk/Heritage/1797/
304. Antisubmarine task force TG 22.3 captures submarine U505, May 1944. It was “the US Navy’s first capture of an enemy warship at sea since the War of 1812.”http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/worldwari1/p/u505.htm
303. HMS Glowworm takes on the 14,000 ton Admiral Von Hipper, April 1940.
302. South Carolina becomes the first state to secede from the Union, December 20, 1860…Carolina unionist James L. Petigru says that South Carolina is “too small to be a nation and too large to be an insane asylum.”http://www.tulane.edu/~sumter/Dilemmas/DDec20.html
301. John Brown raids Harper’s Ferry, October 1859.http://www.wvculture.org/history/jnobrown.html
300. The Battle of San Jacinto, April 1836.https://www.tsl.state.tx.us/treasures/republic/san-jacinto.html
299. The PLO’s Black September hijacking of Sabena flight 571, followed by Operation Isotope (the first successful plane raid in history), May 9, 1972. http://www.thejc.com/news/on-day/48509/on-day-liberation-sabena-jet
298. The defense of Taffy 3 really did not include audacious planning, it was an act of desperation.
I would nominate Admiral Callaghan’s interception of a much larger Japanese force at the November 13, Battle of Guadalcanal. His plan was never articulated, but I believe he saw that he needed to get in very close so that his 8″ guns could penetrate the side armor of the Japanese battleships. (As an gunnery expert, he would have known that they were build to a British battlecruiser design and had relatively weak side armor) Consequently he delayed opening fire until the two formations virtually collided. In fact an 8″ shell that pentrated the Hiei’s side armor and wrecked its steering gear caused its ultimate loss http://blog.usni.org/2009/09/02/the-solomons-campaign-the-battle-of-guadalcanal-part-i/
296. Operation Edelweiss, 1942-1943, the massive German Wehrmacht campaign to capture Baku’s oil fields.
295. Operation Urgent Fury, The Invasion of Grenada, 1983
294. June 26, 1944, Coast Guard Cdr Quentin R. Walsh, leading U.S. Navy Task Unit 127.2.8 consisting of fifty Navy Sea Bees entered the German held port of Cherbourg. On 27 June they accepted the surrender of 400 German troops at the City’s old Naval Arsenal. Then learning that American prisoners were being held Fort du Homet, he and one of his officers entered the fort under a flag of truce and by greatly exaggerating the numeric strength of his small force of Sea Bees, Walsh convinced the German officer to surrender the stronghold. With the surrender of Fort du Homet, Walsh and his men disarmed another 350 German troops and liberated over fifty American paratroopers captured by the enemy.
290 – 284. For my Uncle John (JPL retiree):
-The Space Telescope
283. May I suggest the Fenit landings in the Irish Civil War as a means of outflanking the entrenched anti-Treaty forces and totally smashing their defensive line? Or the landing in Cork in the same conflict in order to capture one of their main points of control by suprise?
282. Patton’s breakout of hedgerow country and race across France.
281. – 278.
1683 relief of Vienna siege (from Vilnius and Warsaw down to Vienna in few weeks, thru Carpathia and lesser mountains, and decisive giant cavalry charge in the flank of besieging army
1605 battle of Kircholm – attacking enemy 3 times stronger numericallyand defeating him with casualty ratio 40-1 nayone?
Operation Jericho – daring precision bombing by RAF Mosquitoes that led to greates escape of Gestapo prisoners in occupied France?
Warsaw uprising 1944 – 2 months of urban warfare by underarmed resistance and abrely any outside support, including such gems like tank-jacking 2 Panthers!
273. – 271.
The Channel Dash of the German captial ships from the Atlantic through the English Channel. How would you liked to have been the weather frog to predict the fog and give the ok for that day. Well you would still be alive.
Audacious? Col Otto Skorzeny and his SpecOps troops snatching Mussolini from Gran Sasso Italy during WWII.
Audacious? Mine Danger Area TEN in Desert Storm where the US NAVY MCM Group planned and adroitly executed a clearance for the most dangerous and complex naval mine field in the history of Mine Warfare without losing a single ship or EOD tech. The Europeans did not assist because they believed it too dangerous to enter based on thier knowledge of the mine types there.
270. Operation Mincemeat – convinced the Germans that the allies were going to invade Greece when the actual target was Sicily. Detail at the minutiae level.
269. Respectfully submit the October 1962 Naval blockage of Cuba.
268. MacArthur’s plan at Inchon, using the Marines and Navy under his command, was indeed an audacious plan worthy of top billing. Notwithstanding the superb execution by the Marines, the plan (Isn’t the Plan what you were measuring?) itself was brilliant, and it completely surprised the commies and caused them great consternation as they were routed to the Northern hinterland.
267. Captain Witold Pilecki devises a mission to be purposely captured and sent to Auschwitz, to release information from the camp back to the Resistance, September 1940.
266. 1941 Stalin moving his Siberian Divisions to the Moscow Fronts, relying on intelligence from his spy, Richard Sorge, the Red Army had accumulated a 58-division reserve by early December. On 5 December 1941, the counteroffensive started on the Kalinin Front. After two days of little progress, Soviet armies retook Krasnaya Polyana and several other cities in the immediate vicinity of Moscow. The same day, Hitler signed his directive number 39, ordering the Wehrmacht to assume a defensive stance on the whole front.
264. Operation Deadstick June, 6, 1944. Six glider crews of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry take control of the bridges over the River Orne and the Caen Canal.
263. 1798 – Nelson at The Battle of the Nile. The French believed that they had established the perfect defensive position anchored in Aboukir Bay. Nelson divided his force (counter to all established fleet tactics) and sent one division across the head of the French line and another along the seaward side of the anchored ships. He attacked at night (generally frowned upon in naval tactics) and rigged spring lines on his ships to allow them to reverse their fire rapidly (an innovation adopted by Thomas Macdonough in 1814 at Plattsbugh just a few years later). His audacious planning and innovative tactics (well, and the HMS Audacious, which was in fact part of his fleet) placed the French fleet in a crossfire that decimated their ships and permanently changed the strategic balance in the Mediterranean.
262. – 256.
Operation Mikado 21 May 1982: Planned raid by the SAS on the Argentine Rio Grande airbase during the Falklands War. Plan was to fly 2 RAF C130 Hercules from Ascension Island 4000 miles into Argentine airspace, land and deliver 60 men of B Squadron, 22 SAS, right onto the Rio Grande runway to destroy Argentine Navy Super Etendards based there. Mikado remained a plan however, as the order to go was never received.
Glorious 1st June 1 Jun 1794: Channel Fleet under Admiral Lord Richard Howe intentionally breaks the French battleline off Ushant inflicting a heavy defeat.
Operation Trident 4 Dec 1971: Indian Navy Vidyut Class fast patrol boats attack the Pakistani Navy in Karachi harbour with Styx anti-ship missiles.
Operation Nimrod 5 May 1980: Storming of the Iranian Embassy. In a 17 minute raid the SAS end a 6 day hostage crisis in the Iranian Embassy in London after the terrorists execute one of their hostages, a key operation in the history of modern, western special forces.
Operation Anthropoid 27 May 1942: Czech SOE agents assassinate SS Obergruppenfuhrer and architect of the Holocaust Reinhard Heydrich in the middle of Prague.
Operation Agreement 13 Sept 1942: Series of raids by SAS, Commandos and Royal Marines against Tobruk that, although audacious in planning, end in tragic failure with the loss of the cruiser HMS Coventry, the destroyers HMS Sikh and HMS Zulu, and 300 Royal Marines.
Operation Roast1 Apr 1945: Royal Marines of 2 Commando Brigade take the Comacchio Lagoon, Italy.
254. Operation Frequent Wind: South Vietnam, April 30, 1975. “A massive assembly of aircraft and ships that became the largest helicopter evacuation in history.”
- DEF[x] Annapolis: Encourage the Innovators
- A History of the Navy in 100 Objects #48: Models of HMS St. George (1701) and USS Missouri (1944)
- Engineering and the Humanities: The View from Patna’s Bridge…
- A History of the Navy in 100 Objects #47: British Dockyard Models
- A History of the Navy in 100 Objects #46: WWII Japanese Radio Headset