Dreadnoughts and Super-Dreadnoughts - Illustrated Special - PRE ORDER

Dreadnoughts and Super-Dreadnoughts - Illustrated Special - PRE ORDER

The United States Navy in World War II - From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa

The United States Navy in World War II - From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa

SBS - Silent Warriors - The Authorised Wartime History

Saul David

A TIMES & SUNDAY TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2021

Britain's SBS - or Special Boat Service - was the world's first maritime special operations unit. Founded in the dark days of 1940, it started as a small and inexperienced outfit that leaned heavily on volunteers' raw courage and boyish enthusiasm. It went on to change the course of the Second World War - and has served as a model for special forces ever since. Written with the full cooperation of the modern SBS - the first time this ultra-secretive unit has given its seal of approval to any book - and exclusive access to its archives, SBS: Silent Warriors allows Britain's original special forces to emerge from the shadows and take their proper and deserved place in our island story.

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Britain's SBS - or Special Boat Service - was the world's first maritime special operations unit. Founded in the dark days of 1940, it started as a small and inexperienced outfit that leaned heavily on volunteers' raw courage and boyish enthusiasm. It went on to change the course of the Second World War - and has served as a model for special forces ever since. The fledgling unit's first mission was a daring beach reconnaissance of Rhodes in the spring of 1941. Over the next four years, the SBS and its affiliates would carry out many more spectacular operations in the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the Channel and the Far East. These missions - including Operation Frankton, the daredevil attempt by the 'Cockleshell Heroes' to paddle up the Garonne river and sink Axis ships in Bordeaux harbour - were some of the most audacious and legendary of the war. Paddling flimsy canoes, and armed only with knives, pistols and a few sub-machine guns, this handful of brave and determined men operated deep behind enemy lines in the full knowledge that if caught they might be executed. Many were. Yet their many improbable achievements - destroying enemy ships and infrastructure, landing secret agents, tying up enemy forces, spreading fear and uncertainty, and, most importantly, preparing the ground for D-Day - helped to make an Allied victory possible. Written with the full cooperation of the modern SBS - the first time this ultra-secretive unit has given its seal of approval to any book - and exclusive access to its archives, SBS: Silent Warriors allows Britain's original special forces to emerge from the shadows and take their proper and deserved place in our island story.

ISBN: 9780008394523
Format: Hardback
Author(s): Saul David
First Publishment Date: 09 September 2021
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Author(s) Saul David
Customer Reviews
  1. A compelling read of amazing courage and that makes one glad they were on our side.
    With a sub title stating that this is the authorised wartime history of the SBS from their archives, this is clearly more than just a few tales about the SBS. In his foreword Admiral Lord Boyce emphasises the strong relationship between the SBS and the Submarine Service and the book tells of the extraordinary feats achieved by this partnership during WWII. It is difficult to review this book without over using the word “extraordinary” and yet the brave exploits in the book were not carried out by superheroes but by people, many of whom had very ordinary backgrounds. Roger Courtney, acknowledged as the “father of the SBS”, recruited his small teams to carry out beach reconnaissance and raids using folding canoes that could be loaded onto submarines – folboats. Part of the selection process included a session in the pub to find out about the real person! Early operations in the Mediterranean included raids on the Italian coastal railway from submarines, and beach reconnaissance for the Torch landings; not so successful was an abortive attempt to capture Rommel, and attacks on shipping in Italian ports. One of the submarines used was the Torbay commanded by Lt Cdr Miers, and there is an illuminating slant by one of Courtney’s men on the notorious incident off Crete when German troops were machine gunned in the water. Op Frankton (led by Blondie Haslar) on shipping in Boulogne has been immortalised as the Cockleshell Heroes, but militarily the raid on Leros (Op Sunbeam) was more spectacular. Lessons learnt from the Torch landings resulted in the setting up of specialist beach survey units (Combined Ops Pilotage parties - COPP) by Lt Cdr Willmott, which were to prove invaluable in operations in both the Far East and Europe. The COPP manned X craft positioned off the Sword and Juno beaches on D-Day ensured that the landings reached the right place; sadly the US refusal to use X craft was one of the contributory factors to the problems on Omaha beach. Far East operations were to be particularly hazardous with tragic loss of teams. Initially the SBS was a “small inexperienced outfit” fuelled by” raw courage and boyish enthusiasm”. Courtney said he wasn’t looking for tough nuts but “brains not brawn” – I think selfless courage was also a pre-requisite. The many reports on team members are fascinating –“will keep going when bigger and tougher men drop out”, “a professional Shakespeare actor” and a citation that read “high degree of courage, resolution and indifference to danger” illustrate the character of the SBS men. The evolution of their small teams is the basis of today’s special forces – “we prefer the twilight, darkness is our friend”. A compelling read of amazing courage and that makes one glad they were on our side.

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  2. ‘An absolute must-read...'
    ‘...if you are a fan of derring-do and Andy McNab. I am going to be telling everyone to buy it’

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  3. ‘A terrific book'
    ‘It really is one of the most enjoyable histories I’ve read in many a year’

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