The Life of Major General Sir Robert Laycock KCMG, CB, DSO
In 1943 Bob Laycock succeeded Louis Mountbatten as Chief of Combined Operations, becoming the youngest major general in the British Army. This biography examines a military career that began with the Royal Horse Guards in 1927, ended with a period as Governor of Malta in the 1950s but is chiefly notable for involvement in the Battle of Crete, the Rommel Raid and in particular for a part in establishing the Commando special forces units.
The Forgotten Heroes of 1945
During the closing weeks of the Second World War, Allied High Command feared the Soviet Union’s domination of post-war Europe, and ordered the capture of superior Nazi military technology, and the scientists who developed it, before they fell into Soviet hands. This fast-paced story of Target-Force, an assembly of British regiments entrusted with the task, covers the brigade’s formation (inspired by Ian Fleming) and its missions, including the capture of the U-boat facility at Kiel.
The History of the SAS, Britain's Secret Special Forces Unit that Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War
Facing the well-equipped German forces in North Africa in 1941, David Stirling saw the potential for small teams of highly trained soldiers to mount surprise attacks and acts of sabotage on airfields and supply chains. This account of his founding of the SAS describes their actions in Africa, Sicily, Italy and France and puts into context their vital strategic effectiveness during the Second World War and lasting influence on military tactics thereafter. Off-mint and felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
In Search of the Real Dad's Army
The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940–1944
By the summer of 1940 nearly a million and a half British men had joined the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV), a response to the very real threat of invasion by a rapidly advancing German Army. This book explores the LDV’s transformation from an enthusiastic yet ill-equipped organization into the capable Home Guard, which, as the threat of invasion receded, nevertheless became key to the UK’s local defence strategy, as well as a means of combating the purported Fifth Column. Off-mint.
The Birth of the Royal Marines
Before 1802 the Royal Marines were known as the Marine Corps, a small but powerful contingent that operated amphibiously to link land and sea, Army and Navy. This detailed history of the Corps charts its transformation into the first modern rapid reaction force and includes the evolution of its operational structures, methods of recruitment (often from criminals) and its role in Britain’s notorious ‘gunboat diplomacy’.
Jewish Commandos and the Raid on Tobruk
During the North African campaign in 1942, the British used a special force of German-speaking Jews recruited from displaced Germans in Palestine. This ‘Special Interrogation Group’ were given German military police uniforms and equipment and tasked with gathering crucial information from behind enemy lines. This book outlines the formation of the unit and describes its part in the raid on Tobruk in September 1942, which involved trekking across hundreds of miles of desert disguised as German soldiers transporting PoWs.
German Special Forces of World War Two
German paratroopers scored notable successes in the invasion of Holland in 1940 and Crete in 1941 but were not developed during the war to the extent of Allied special forces. This analysis, first published in 1985, investigates the reasons for this and explores the irregular units that were deployed by Germany, including the Brandenburgers, an elite force recruited from fluent speakers of foreign languages who were able to work covertly behind enemy lines.
At Close Quarters: SOE Close Combat Pistol Instructor
Colonel Hector Grant-Taylor
Many of the tales about Hector Grant-Taylor, the legendary Second World War SOE instructor, who had an enormous influence on techniques and training in close quarters combat, are revealed to be apocryphal in this biography. Nevertheless the real story is no less colourful as the aristocratic-sounding army officer turns out to have been born plain Leonard Taylor in a working class area of Manchester and to have spent time in Wormwood Scrubs for bigamy.
When volunteers were called for at the outbreak of the First World War, new recruits had to be at least 5 feet 3 inches tall with a minimum chest size of 34 inches. It soon became clear that valuable manpower was being wasted and new 'bantam' regiments were raised to accommodate the undersized soldiers. This updated edition of a book first published in 1981 tells the story of the 50,000 men who served in over 20 British and Canadian bantam battalions.
Allied Special Forces Insignia
Of the many special forces set up after 1940 to 'set Europe ablaze', in Churchill's phrase, some have since become household names, such as the Parachute Regiment and the SAS, while others, having had brief and covert existences, are little known today. This well-illustrated reference guide, aimed at the militaria collector, sets in context the growth and development of Allied Special Forces during the Second World War and details the distinctive insignia that they wore.
Stosstrupptaktik: The First Stormtroopers
German Assault Troops of the First World War
The stalemate of trench warfare in the First World War precipitated a gradual move towards more dynamic attacks by smaller units. These tactics became especially associated with the German 'stoss' or shock troops, the term later giving way to the more colourful 'stormtroopers'. This analysis of tactical developments in the German Army demonstrates how the elite units emerged and built their reputation, setting the groundwork for the fearsome agents of blitzkrieg in the 1930s.
The Ariadne Objective
The Underground War to Rescue Crete from the Nazis
A committed band of partisans were a thorn in the side of the German occupiers of Crete from May 1941, with an unlikely group of British spies organizing, orchestrating and supplying them. This book tells the story of the operatives, including future travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor, John Pendlebury and Xan Fielding, who lived in the Cretan mountains for years conducting sabotage operations culminating in the abduction of the German commanding officer. American-cut pages.
The Secret War Against Mussolini, 1940–1943
British intelligence had limited resources in fascist Italy, but still played a crucial role in the conflict there, not least when agent Dick Mallaby was plucked from imprisonment to undertake clandestine communications about the Italian surrender. Commissioned by the Cabinet Office and drawing on many previously classified documents, this is the official history of the Special Operations Executive in Italy, revealing missions as daring as a plot to assassinate Mussolini and plans to arm the Mafia.
The Sea Devils
Operation Struggle and the Last Great Raid of World War Two
The midget submarines that were famously used to attack the battleship Tirpitz in 1943 were developed further and the improved 'XE-class' craft were used in a daring attack on Singapore harbour in 1945. This history recounts how 18 British, Australian and New Zealand submariners, two of whom were awarded the Victoria Cross and several others decorated, piloted two XE craft through the Japanese defences to successfully incapacitate the heavy cruiser Takao.