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The War That Never Was [Kindle Edition]

Duff Hart-Davis
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

For the very first time, The War That Never Was tells the fascinating story of a secret war fought by British mercenaries in the Yemen in the early 1960s. In a covert operation organised over whisky and sodas in the clubs of Chelsea and Mayfair, a group of former SAS officers - led by the irrepressible Colonel Jim Johnson - arranged for a squadron of British mercenaries to travel to the remote mountain regions of the Yemen, to arm, train and lead Yemeni tribesmen in their fight against a 60,000-strong contingent of Egyptian soldiers.

It was one of the most uneven running battles ever waged; the Egyptians fielded a huge, professionally-trained army. The British fought back at the head of a ragtag force of tribal warriors and, ultimately, won. Egypt's President Nasser described the battle in the Yemen as 'my Vietnam'.

It's a fascinating, forgotten, and rip-roaringly entertaining pocket of British military history, much in the spirit of Ben MvIntyre's bestselling Agent Zigzag and Operation Mincemeat.

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"Remarkable story ... Hart-Davis tells splendidly the astonishing tale he has uncovered"--Max Hastings, The Sunday Times

"Duff Hart-Davis has taken over the writing of this book from Jim Johnson's second-in-command, Tony Boyle, who was working from Johnson's archive; both men died before the work was completed. He has done his extraordinary subject justice. Why did any of them get involved with the project? Well, the pay was good, but that is exactly the sort of thing men say to cover their enjoyment and excitement. The fact of the matter is that it was a terrific adventure"--Philip Hensher, The Spectator

"Plenty of books claim to be about forgotten aspects of the past. Yet Duff Hart-Davis has managed to go one better in this tale of British mercenaries and Egyptian skulduggery by unearthing a war that has hitherto remained more or less secret"--James Owen, Mail on Sunday

"This dramatic piece of history is thoroughly researched, drawn from first-hand accounts of the mercenaries’ experience. Written at the pace of a James Bond thriller, Hart-Davis leavens his gung-ho tale with details that are at times touching and humorous"--The Herald

"An extraordinary story that needed to be told... Duff Hart-Davis tells their fascinating story, which will be new to many readers, remarkably well"--Charles Guthrie, Literary Review

"An extradordinary story, told for the first time"--Today, Radio 4

"Their gung-ho story is told with much buckle and swash"--The Times

"A barnstorming history."--Independent

Book Description

The thrilling, adventure-packed, untold story of the British covert war in Yemen, and the last great battle for our colonial interests.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1337 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (10 Feb. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004WOF29Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #181,772 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A view from the other side of the Rubh al Khali 25 Mar. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book after reading a review in the Spectator. At the time of these events I served in the Trucial Oman Scouts in what is now the Union of Arab Emirates and passed through Aden a couple of times, including 3 months on the language course. The mercenaries security must have been good as I never heard a whisper of what was going on in the Yemen. Another reason for buying the book was that I know the son of one of the major participants.

The book does give a very good account of what the mercenaries went through. It gives a very good insight to the chaotic happenings in Yemen today and a sad view of the British Government's handling of the situation in the Middle East.

A very good read
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When the bold were not so old. 1 Jun. 2011
This is an excellent book far too long overdue. Sadly Jim Johnson is no longer with us to enjoy its telling. However its story is still very prescient as the US tries, as the Egyptians did, to winkle out insurgents with equal difficulty from the Yemeni mountains.

The cast of colourful characters are legendary from David Stirling, Brian Franks, Billy McLean, DLB & David Smiley, as well as "Gentleman Jim" Johnson. Duff Hart-Davis has done an excellent service to those who served, as their story has only appeared in fragmentary and highly subjective stories. This book does much to set the record straight and corrects a number of rather embroidered accounts.

Compared to the highly professional PMCs and huge contracts of today, Johnson put together a scratch force with an objective of preventing The Yemen from falling into Egyptian hands on the back of an envelope at Whites Club. With unreliable Saudi money and a vacillating British government who under Wilson finally 'cut & run' from Aden, the difficulties of keeping the operation going were legion.

This is a book that will be much enjoyed by the old'n'bold. Also by those whose interest in the Yemen is more than passing and those who have an interest in professional private soldiering in sandy places.
Highly recommended.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remember the Hotspur and the Victor? 22 Feb. 2011
This book tells the fascinating story of a secret war fought by British mercenaries in the Yemen in the early 1960s. If you've seen the film, the Wild Geese you will have some idea of what happens here. Ranging from London's "Gentlemen's" clubs to the deserts of the Yemen this is a rip roaring, marvellously told story of good old fashioned derring-do with a generous hint of stiff upper lip Britishness thrown in. The leader was a bloke called Colonel Jim Johnson, a proper throwback to empire it would appear and the rag-tag group of ex SAS and others he gets together to train and lead Yemeni tribesmen in their fight against the Egyptian army. The book has particular resonance as affairs in the region unfold as I type and it reinforces the delicate balance that the region's governments have to maintain to have any semblance of power. My one quibble with the book would be the gung-ho sub-title of the book as, although the story is indeed heroic, can it really be described as Britain's "most secret battle" as it is not really clear how official any sanctioned action was? Nevertheless if you want to read a truly amazing account of proper "Boys Own" stuff then this is the book for you.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How a few Brit's can make a big difference. 26 Mar. 2011
This book is excellent. A true story. The author was able to precis a large and complex event from notes and word of mouth and make a boys own adventure that many would feel proud to be involved in. As I knew several of those involved from my early days in Oman it became all the more absorbing. I would certainly recommend the book to all those who have served in the region.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Determination and Courage 2 May 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a great story in the rivetting grand old tradition of ladies and gentlemen with guts and governments with the courage to exploit those talents, skills and abilities to ensure freedom, justice and opportunity. It is a rollicking authentic adventure in the spirit of James Bond and Bull Dog Drummond come true, with a bit of aristocratic lurid sex thrown in at the outset to nearly derail the entire operation, plus dedicated and patriotic men and women working in absolute secrecy for Queen and country. It is the living proof that sucessful covert operations can and do originate in the once cigar smoke laden (sadly no more thanks to Health Risk Management regulations gone mad) leather chaired corridors of power of the plushest London clubs so that one day the same men in pin stripe suits and regimental ties are the next day flying to a distant if not so exotic land where donning Arab garb and guises in the sweaty wind swept hills of Arabia they damn the Queen's enemies and those of her allies to perdition. Read and enjoy!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The War That Never Was 21 Mar. 2011
The reason why this account of a 1960s secret war in the Yemen hasn't been published earlier, and why it had to be told now become self-evident. Our introduction to the main players in this extraordinary 40year-old episode, told by Duff Hart Davis, is to a selected band of gentlemen and players on a mission in a far off country. The story is a compelling and sometimes humorous account of the covert struggle to contain Egyptian aggression against the tribal rulers of the Yemen, a country which included the strategically important British Protectorate of Aden. All at a time when the incoming Labour governemnt under Harold Wilson was grasping the nettle of faded Empire to withdraw East of Suez. There was therefore no political reason for HMG openly to support the rulers of Yemen. However, the book tells how a band of former SAS officers and men were brought together by one Colonel Jim Johnson over brandy and cigars in London. He comes across as a Jack Hawkins-like figure from the League of Gentlemen and, true to form, pulls together a mercenary army of specialists to 'advise' the Yemeni Royalists toppled in a coup d'etat. Johnson's mercenaries were on their own but, we are told, they managed to secure vital Israeli and Saudi logistical and financial support for plans to contain and disrupt Nasser's 70,000-strong rabble army which had invaded to gain a foothold at Israel's back door. Exciting stuff with detailed accounts of long treks across unforgiving deserts, hot by day, freezing by night - friend and foe looking alike - to supply the front. Impressive successes are claimed for the Brits, who schooled the royalists in sabotage and surprise, and in one instance the execution of a battle plan by Major Bernard Mills in which the royalists killed hundreds of Egyptians. The book doesn't quite make clear how much HMG,and in particular British Middle East Command in Aden, knew of the operation which all adds to the intrigue of Hart Davis's account. The book would make a splendid film.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 7 days ago by brian causer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great recollections about the war in Yemen
By far one of the best books I have read about the war in Yemen - all the background about the way people were recruited and the enthusiastic way they organised themselves etc -... Read more
Published 15 days ago by J. Manson
4.0 out of 5 stars ... conflict at the time and this book gave an excellent view of what...
I have read a lot of books on Yemen and Aden about the war and conflict at the time and this book gave an excellent view of what was happening and also the behind the scene... Read more
Published 1 month ago by DFT
4.0 out of 5 stars Insight into a secret war
Fascinating details about a little known war - very factual but also rather dry.
Published 2 months ago by Dazberry
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Having served there and Dhofar I found this very interesting.
Published 7 months ago by M. J. Doyle
5.0 out of 5 stars ... 1963/64 working in Air Traffic Control so it is nice to know what...
I was serving in Aden 1963/64 working in Air Traffic Control so it is nice to know what a lot of the air craft we were talking to were actualy involved in. Read more
Published 9 months ago by khormakser
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book
Published 9 months ago by John G.
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but hard going at times.
This is a very informative book. Hard going at times because it depends on so many characters but it really does show just now "Boys Own" and Old Boy Network the British... Read more
Published 9 months ago by GDD
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fascinating account of a little known war.
Published 11 months ago by Septimus
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bit long winded but acurate narative illustrating the story behind the scenes.
Published 12 months ago by Seumas na Tuaighe
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