Young was an officer in the regular army who, following action in France in 1940, volunteered for the Commandoes. He then had an extraordinary war thereafter, being part of several raids on Norway, then Dieppe, Sicily, Italy, Normandy and finally a brigade command in Burma. He is the only person I've come across who was entitled to wear the African, Italian, Burma and France & Germany stars!
All ranks in the commandoes were volunteers, so they were highly motivated and keen fighters. It is remarkable that so many men came forward to undertake the arduous training and a leading role in major battles. While mainly trained to operate as a sea assault force aimed at crucial targets, they often spent considerable time in the front line as well (85 days in Normandy for instance). With so much demanded of them, many volunteers did not make the cut and it was also common for men to be returned to their original units if they didn't measure up on an operation.
Young served almost entirely with 3rd Commando. He had a lead part in the formation and then refinement of the organization. While junior officers were expected to take a lead in any fighting, it was even more the case in the commandoes. Young fires on and is fired on by the enemy. While there were direct assaults in the normal sense, there was much made of surprise and operating at night. Small groups were expected to do a lot and it was remarkable how often they prevailed against larger German forces. Young reveals that the quality of the German soldier was almost universally high and despite their daring, the commandoes suffer many casualties. This was hard as the small size of the unit led to a strong sense of camaraderie.
This book was first published in 1958 and it has a tone typical of its time. Young's stiff upper lip style reminded me of several other memoirs by British veterans. It is also humorous, crisp and informative. It does not have strong language or gore, more typical of later examples but it is very clearly a combat account. When Young went into action it was serious stuff. He aimed to achieve his objectives and killing Germans was a part of this. His men are stoic and even excited at the prospect of action. He himself seems to have enjoyed every minute of it! Such men win your wars for you. This is a very interesting and exceptionally broad account of life in the commandoes in WW2. You see the development of the arm into an extremely deadly and valuable tool and it's told through the eyes of a brave man who saw it all.
Highly recommended 4 stars.