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Beachhead Assault: The Story of the Royal Naval Commandos in World War II [Hardcover]

Tony Parsons , David Lee
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Greenhill Books; First edition (5 Oct 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853676195
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853676192
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.4 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 944,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The Royal Naval Commandos had one of the most dangerous and the most important tasks of any in World War II - they were first on to the invasion beaches and they were the last to leave. Formed in 1941 as the Royal Naval Beach Parties, many lost their lives in the Dieppe raid. After Dieppe they became fully fledged fighting Commandos with their legendary Fairbairn Sykes commando knives, organised into units from A Commando through to the all Canadian W Commando. Under their officers who were designated as Beachmasters, the Royal Naval Commandos led the way in on the beaches as part of the Allied landings in Madagascar, Dieppe, North Africa, Pantelleria, Sicily, Salerno, the Volturno River, Anzio, Arakan, D Day, Elba, Walcheren and Commachio. Their work on the beaches was crucial to the success of the Allied invasions. After the War the Royal Naval Commandos were disbanded and forgotten. Their wartime role was given to the Royal Marines. But now through the personal accounts of many of the Royal Naval Commandos themselves this book tells their remarkable story.

It is a story which covers their beginnings early in the War and their training, both at their base HMS Armadillo at Ardentinny in Scotland and the famous Achnacarry Commando training school, through to the invasions where they led the way in. As Tony Parsons, whose own father was a Royal Naval Commando, says in the foreword, "Every page of this book is covered with tales of an almost suicidal courage." For anyone interested in the Commandos of World War II here at last is a book which tell the story of a remarkable, but forgotten group of men - The Royal Naval Commandos.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Personal accounts - up close! 3 July 2007
Meet some of the Naval Commandos who were there! If you have read "Up Close and Personal" (also by David Lee) - if not you ought to - you would recognize and appreciate the writing style. The book is almost literally based upon the personal accounts of the commandos themselves. Their accounts are cleverly woven into the hectic history of a part of the armed forces that I hardly knew existed. Okay, I remember the burly, bearded beach master with a shillelagh and a dog on a leash from The Longest Day but that's about it!

You may well argue though, that it is the oddest things these veterans remember about their trials and hardships on and near the invasion beaches around the world! Anyway these often peculiar memories ad honesty and personality to the ordinary sailors of that time - sailors who were not so ordinary after all; that is Royal Naval Commandos! Surely left in the shadows of their Marine and Army brothers in arms, these sailors played a vital but subtle part in almost every allied beachhead assault through WW2. I admit that the Normandy landings are my personal favourites of which I can't get enough; D-Day is the most thoroughly described operation in the book though. Visiting the landing beaches this summer, I found only one mention of the Naval Commandos! In spite of being a tiny coq in the gigantic machinery of the allied invasion forces they have been given too little credit for their efforts, sacrifice and importance, but in "Beachhead Assault" David Lee tries his best to set the record straight!

David Lee has established himself as a serious military historian with an expressed admiration for and attention to the British fighting men of WW2 that we owe so much ...
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3.0 out of 5 stars It's good but not great 14 Dec 2011
By Hussar
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I didn't like the writing style. The parts actually written by Lee, I felt, lacked substance and often didn't properly introduce the veteran's accounts. The accounts themselves were generally very detailed but I felt some should have been further expanded on by Lee to better emphasise the points he was trying to make.

The way Lee ended some of the chapters also seemed very abrupt, particularly the transition of the narrative from the Med to North West Europe and back - these could have flowed much better.

The information is there though, in abundance.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Nice book about commandos 18 Sep 2010
By Nuno
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very nice book, with good ilustrations, good maps but few, a interesting table with formation and opertions, the known medals given to RNC, it starts with Dieppe and the learn lession to the future. Have nice interviews wich the author made good apparts.
It is structured in training, operations in Mediterranean, Normandie, Elba and some minor missions in Holland, the only thing less interesting is the Normandie chapter wich he spend too many pages describing the signalers and is (good) work.
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4.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC 11 Aug 2008
What an excellent read. This often untold story of the RN Commandos leaves little out. I read it in a few hours its unputdownable. First hand accounts sit aside historical detail in each paragraph. A must for all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spot On 19 July 2013
By Graham Chaplin - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was looking for information regarding my father's participation in WW11. Found some great general information. Also found some specific information about his particular group. Great read for my purposes.
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