Warner, Philip.


1st ed., 1985. X + 245 pp., photo-plates + maps. D.j., 24 x 16cm. Damp 'wave' to foot of f.f.e.p., (blank) o/w FINE. World War II gave rise to an astonishing number of unorthodox units, yet no book until now has assessed their contribution to final victory or shown how they related to one another and to the more conventional fighting forces. In 1939 'Special Forces' did not exist; it was Churchill who ordered them to 'set Europe ablaze'. Operating under a cloak of secrecy during wartime, and quickly disbanded after it, they have never received full credit for their achievements. From the early 'butcher and bolt' raids by parachutists and commandos, to SOE activities in France and the Balkans and 'Merrill's Marauders' and Wingate's 'Chindits' in Burma, Special Forces were active in all the great theatres of war. They played a vital role in intelligence-gathering, Anglo-American co-operation, sabotage, the fostering of local resistance movements and guerrilla fighting. They denied 'heavy water' to Germany, which prevented that country making the atomic bomb, and they crucially affected the balance of air power in the Western desert in 1942. The author has talked to many survivors and tells their individual stories here.

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