on 21 January 2000
The story is an account of how the wartime SAS operated, with its moments of action, courage, glory, sadness and simply daily and human interaction. It tells of the difficulties in operations behind enemy lines with Resistance and Partisan groups as well those emanating from ones own commanders at home base. The stories are true as I can testify, having had the privilege of visiting most places in France and Italy myself. There I talked with French Resistance people as well as Italian Partisans that operated with Major Farran, alias Patrick McGinty. They confirmed the events as described in the book. It is a great adventure lived by a determined and courageous group of special forces soldiers, yet it also has its moments of humor. I would recommend this book to anybody aspiring to a leadership position, military or civilian. It provides true inspiration.
on 14 December 2011
"Not the least remarkable of all Captain Roy Farran's achievements in an amazing war career is the writing of this story of his adventures in straightforward prose, with no striving after effect - yet with an Englishman's most effective weapon, masterly understatement. Winged Dagger recalls his escape from Greece in a boat that ran out of fuel, food and water; his parachute drop in defiance of orders, behind the German lines in Northern Italy, where he took command of a band of partisans; and finally his service in Palestine which culminated in his trial for and acquittal of the murder of a terrorist."
Memoir by one of Britain's top special forces soldiers of the twentieth century, largely focusing on his time in the Second World War but also the unsuccessful counter-insurgency campaign in Palestine.
on 15 January 2012
Roy Farran was one of the great fighting men of World War Two - and afterwards, as well. It's strange that I like this book so much, because its structure is pretty shaky - right from the outset, Farran plonks the reader straight into the Middle East in 1940 with no explanation as to his early life or military career. His adventures with the Special Air Service are told so self-deprecatingly that one wonders how on earth he collected his astonishing decorations, including a DSO and an MC and two bars. Perhaps he thought that somebody else would write about how they were acquired - and I hope that one day, somebody will. However, by the end of the book, Farran was rightly furious and he made no attempt to disguise it. After some daring and dangerous exploits in post-war Palestine, Farran was arrested and charged with the murder of a Jewish terrorist. It appears that this was on the thinnest of evidence but that a supine British Government felt that a culprit was required. This, I think is the best section of the book and Farran's hostility comes through hot and strong, so much so that his original publishers performed a highly inexpert hatch-job in editing-out what they must have considered to be the most objectionable sections.
Farran was eventually acquitted and returned home to England; but that verdict did not find favour with the Jewish terrorist group, the Irgun Zvai Leumi who sent a parcel bomb to the Farran family home. It was addressed to `Mr. R. Farran' and was opened by Farran's brother, Rex; it exploded, killing him instantly. Nor was his culpability only the view of the Irgun; I met Farran in 1997 at the Army & Navy Club. During our discourse, he was approached by a deranged-looking man, of his own vintage, who screamed at him `Murderer!' - not that it fazed Farran in the slightest.
Hero or villain? Make up your own mind; but for what it's worth, I happen to think he was rather a great man and one who was let down badly by a gutless British government.
Well worth reading.
on 31 October 2013
Roy Farran starts his military service as a green officer in the desert and gradually becomes an all action and confident officer finding himself in many scrapes from being wounded and becoming a prisoner of war in Crete, escaping from a camp in Greece by sailboat to being one of the first member of the SAS dropping behind enemy lines in France and Italy, and becoming the most decorated SAS member of the war. Through out the book in all his adventures he was like a cat with nine lives as he came through with only minor damage.
If you are interested in military history you will enjoy this book.