Operation Slapstick was the code name for a British landing from the sea at the Italian port of Taranto during the Second World War. The operation, one of three landings during the Allied invasion of Italy in September 1943, was undertaken by airborne troops of the British 1st Airborne Division, commanded by Major-General George Hopkinson.
Planned at short notice, the mission followed an offer by the Italian government to open the ports of Taranto and Brindisi on the heel of Italy to the Allies. The airborne division was selected to undertake the mission, but at the time they were located in North Africa. A shortage of transport aircraft meant the division could not land in their traditional way by parachute and glider, and all the landing craft in the area were already allocated to the other landings: Operation Avalanche at Salerno on the western coast, and Operation Baytown at Calabria. Instead, the division had to be transported across the Mediterranean by ships of the Royal Navy. The landing was unopposed and the airborne division successfully captured the ports of Taranto, and later Brindisi on the Adriatic coast in working order.
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