27 May 2016

Raiders from the Sea

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

They traveled at night to their targets, using submarines, small surface vessels or canoes, with the commanders of 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. For it is more than the story of daring exploits and wartime sabotage. It is above all 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 foreword to the 1990 edition of the book.

Individualistic in themselves, 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 a tribute.

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