A forlorn hope

Also found in: Idioms.
(Mil.) a body of men (called in F. enfants perdus, in G. verlornen posten) selected, usually from volunteers, to attempt a breach, scale the wall of a fortress, or perform other extraordinarily perilous service; also, a desperate case or enterprise.

See also: Forlorn

References in periodicals archive ?
But if that too proves a forlorn hope, the disappointment may be offset by an announcement about enterprise zones to be set up in the North East.
We know it can sound a forlorn hope but this teenager's death can help avoid future killings.
Geordieland had only five finishers behind him in the Melbourne Cup last year after breaking a blood vessel, and Osborne said: "It all went wrong for him in Australia, but he put up a good performance at York last time and is not a forlorn hope for the Gold Cup.