From the Inside Flap
The SAS has become the most famous regiment in the British Army if not the world. Its origins during the Second World War and its early missions in the North African desert have been recounted many times. However, its role in the Normandy campaign and the liberation of France has not received anything like the same coverage. Roger Ford investigates the assembly and deployment of what was then the SAS Brigade. From the outset, the 'special forces' had to surmount opposition within the Allied high command. Their actions were described in some quarters as 'a too easy...form of gallantry to a few anti-social irresponsible individualists who sought a more personal satisfaction from the war than of standing their chance, like proper soldiers, of being bayoneted in a slit trench or burnt alive in a tank'. Nevertheless, by summer 1944 the Brigade was ready to launch a succession of missions far behind enemy lines. Their primary objective was to delay the arrival of German forces at the Normandy battlefront. By attacking communications, ambushing patrols and calling in air-strikes, the idea was to inflict damage and delay out of all proportion to the number of SAS men involved. Between D-Day and October 1944 the SAS Brigade mounted some thirty-six operations behind German lines in France. This is the first comprehensive history and assessment of these missions. Some achieved exactly the sort of success intended, tying down disproportionate numbers of German forces and fanning into fierce flames the sparks of resistance kept alive by the French maquisards. Others, most notoriously 'Operation Bulbasket', were disastrous failures leading the deaths of many SAS personnel and resistance fighters. One controversial issue explored by Roger Ford is the degree to which British officers knew about Hitler's order to execute captured 'commandos'. The SAS men captured at Verrieres were murdered in cold blood, a war crime for which several German served short prison sentences after the war. Should they have known the Germans would not treat them as normal prisoners of war? As Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke wrote to the SAS Brigade the following year: 'the SAS made a fine contribution to the defeat of Germany, and has not only gained a well-deserved reputation, but has also provided a tradition of courage and initiative which will be an inspiration to any troops called upon to undertake such tasks in the future'. From the early hours of 6 June 1944 to the destruction of the German army in France, this is the story of how small teams of SAS men fought their secret war behind enemy lines.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Roger Ford, with a background in computing and information technology dating from the mid-1960s, is a relative late-comer to military history. He is the author of dozens of works in the field of military technology and weapons systems, including THE GRIM REAPER, a highly acclaimed account of the development and employment of the machine gun. He lives in rural southern France.