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Raiders from the Sea

John Lodwick

The Story of the Special Boat Service in WWII.
The Special Boat Service was a small force during World War II, never more than about 300 men. But that did not stop it from inflicting great damage on the enemy. In the Mediterranean arena and in the Aegean, which the Germans controlled after the fall of Greece and Crete, this small commando force kept up a constant campaign of harassment, thus pinning down enemy forces and preventing their joining other fronts.

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The Story of the Special Boat Service in WWII. The Special Boat Service was a small force during World War II, never more than about 300 men. But that did not stop it from inflicting great damage on the enemy. In the Mediterranean arena and in the Aegean, which the Germans controlled after the fall of Greece and Crete, this small commando force kept up a constant campaign of harassment, thus pinning down enemy forces and preventing their joining other fronts. They travelled by night to their targets, using submarines, small surface vessels or canoes, with the commanders of the vessels often putting themselves in danger in order to help the men carry out their dangerous and secret missions. They were reliant on the co-operation of the fiercely independent Greeks and in particular the Cretans, all working together in their common objective against the German invaders. John Lodwick took part in the SBS Mediterranean campaign and writes from personal experience with the panache and verve of the squadron itself. For it is more than the story of the remarkable men who made up the force: men such as Anders Lassen, ‘the Dreadful Dane’ who was awarded a posthumous VC, Fitzroy Maclean, Eric Newby, Jock Lapraik, and Lord Jellicoe, who commanded the squadron for almost two years and who contributed a memorable foreword to this memoir. Strong, determined individuals, together the men of the Special Boat Service formed a deadly, cohesive fighting force which contributed much to the war in the Mediterranean and to whom John Lodwick’s book is an excitingly readable tribute.

ISBN: 9781784383459
Format: Paperback
Author(s): John Lodwick
First Publishment Date: 5 November 2018

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  1. The Special Boat Squadron has for too long been living in the shadow cast by the SAS and this book, although a reprint, goes a long way to redressing this oversight. review by Warship World - PB on 07/03/2019

    There seems to a mood at the moment to reprint books that have been out of print for years, sometimes many, many years. This reprint of a book first written in the summer of 1945 and printed two years later is a case in point. That said, this book has many fine qualities that perhaps deserve a reprint in the 21st century. Raiders from the Sea tells the often-overlooked story of the foundation and wartime exploits of the Special Boat Squadron, SBS. The SBS rarely gets the fame and attention that the SAS receive, although the two services were born out of the same need in the Second World War to provide ‘unusual warfare’ activities. The author John Lodwick, who later carved out a career as a novelist, joined the SBS during its campaign against the Germans in the Mediterranean.

    The writing is light and informative and cracks along at quite a pace which you may expect from a novelist. The first section deals with how the SBS was formed before concentrating more on how the SBS conducted sneak raids and sabotage missions across the Greek Islands, often working alongside their SAS colleagues. Throughout the book there are sometimes harrowing depictions of German atrocities and war crimes.

    The stories behind this book are multi layered and it sometimes took me a second reading to fully understand the importance of Lodwick and his colleagues’ work. This work was often eccentric but clearly highlights the extreme bravery, tenacity and cunning of the men employed by the SBS. This book portrays the men as bold, patriotic and daring but with a heavy dose of laconic, sardonic humour too. There are melancholic moments too when Lodwick reflects on the loss of men he called friends, as he put it ‘the best were always taken’.

    Photographs in this book are scarce at just 35 images but one must remember that these men were on active service not on a holiday to the Greek Islands and some of the maps are a little hard to read at times. The Special Boat Squadron has for too long been living in the shadow cast by the SAS and this book, although a reprint, goes a long way to redressing this oversight.

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