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on 10 November 2008
This is an enjoyable book about an operation to scupper a German boat in Goa harbour in 1943. My grandfather was in the attack party, recruited as their explosives expert. Here is his description of the events:

"While at the Khadakvasla camp I was asked to join a proposed expedition to the then neutral port of Goa on the West Coast of India. The scheme had been hatched by two senior officers of S.O.E. to capture an almost new German liner that had been sheltering in Goa harbour since 1939, and the plan was for a party of irregulars from Calcutta with one or two S.O.E. officers to carry out the mission. The irregulars were, if my memory serves me right, Calcutta Scottish a sort of Territorial Army Unit. They were mostly in the Jute industry. So we sailed in a dredger from Cochin as I remember. We practised chasing around in the dark and on the night of our attack we slung nets on grappling irons on to the deck of the German ship and climbed up them. I was loaded with an explosive charge to slap on to a steel door which we knew would be sealed against us. We had hardly got on board when there was a muffled bang in the depths of the ship; one of the crew had scuttled it and down we went until we settled on the bottom of the harbour. When the retreat or return to our ship was sounded we found that we once more had to climb up the netting as our boat was standing higher in the water than the German ship.

"So back I went to Khadakvasla after what had seemed to me to have been a fiasco, although a different slant was put on to the affair by a book and then a film featuring Gregory Peck and David Niven and several others. As far as I can remember we came away with two German sailors who later helped our instructors by making model German aircraft etc."

Not quite as glamorous as the book (or the later film "The Sea Wolves") make out, but it's a good story nonetheless.
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on 5 May 2012
Recommended. This is a true story which is more improbable than fiction. The book is an account of an attack on 9 March 1943 on a German merchant ship interned at Portuguese Goa on the west coast of India. The ship, the Erhenfels, housed a covert radio used to transmit information on merchant shipping to waiting U-Boats in the Indian Ocean. The friendly neutrality of Portugal was important to the Allies in the Battle of the Atlantic so an open attack on Goa was not an option. To provide plausible denial the Special Operations Executive (SOE) organized a covert attack by twenty middle aged army reservists from the Calcutta Light Horse and the Calcutta Scottish. The attack also forestalled the risk that the Erhenfels would escape to Singapore and be armed as a disguised raider. The book was the basis for the 1980 film The Sea Wolves with Gregory Peck, David Niven and Roger Moore.

The book is well written and a good read. It gives a good feel for the men recruited from the upper ranks of the raj in Calcutta for the mission. The author served in India and Burma in WW2 and became a journalist postwar. The foreword is by Earl Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India. The final section details the post war fates of some of the participants. The book draws on the recollections of men from both sides of the conflict. There is a long list of contributors and records consulted but no secondary sources are cited. The authoritative history of the U-Boat arm, Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted 1942-45 (Volume 2): The Hunted, 1942-45 Vol 2 by Clay Blair corroborates an unususally successful pattern of sinkings by Wolfgang Luth in the Type IX U-Cruiser U-181 in the Indian Ocean at this time but does not mention the role of the intelligence supplied by from the Erhenfels' radio. Luth was personally decorated by Hitler with the Swords and Diamonds to his Knight's Cross on his return to Germany.
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on 4 April 2012
I was fascinated to read the review account by O G Hunter's grandfather, as my father was also a small part of this jolly jape, albeit while 'back at the ranch' at SOE base in Calcutta. In his account the purpose of the raid was to eliminate the source of radio transmissions coming from the German boat, which was sending details of Allied shipping movements to the enemy. According to Dad when the party arrived back at base they returned with one (not two?) German. The raiding party were then in need of a good kip, so they handed my Dad a pistol and the captor and told him to look after the prisoner while they took a few ZZzzzzzs. At some point the captor's girlfriend visited him, although goodness knows where she appeared from or how she knew he was there. After all, no Facebook in those days!
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on 13 January 2013
The book is based on the second world war in neutral Goa (India) by an add ball group of wrinklies. A true event it is well weaved together and is a likeable tale. It will mainly suit the older reader who wants something a little different.The film version Sea Wolves is also worth seeing.
In a few places the Kindle version has some typos - I assume it has been scanned in with OCR. Unfortunate but not enough to spoil the experience.
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on 28 November 2014
I saw the film years ago and just thought that it was Hollywood fun starring rather too many over-aged actors! To find out the truth in this entertaining book was a revelation and a credit to the "rather over-aged" participants of the actual operation. Well worth reading.
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on 14 January 2014
the book has satisfied me as to what actually took place in Goa Harbour in March 1943. the film is entertaining and nice to watch but is not the true account, which the film could have done with ease. The leading German spy in the film is killed in a struggle with Gregory Peck's car , but in reality Herr spy is kidnapped along with his wife and arrives safely in British custody. I am at the point in the book where the boarding of the principle German ship is taking place and there is no mention as to Mrs Cromwell the German Number two spy in the movie. this book is must read for those who love to read what the British in war are good at. Commando raids.
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on 18 August 2014
I really enjoyed this book, and found it an exciting read, this being the third of Leasor's books I have read recently. This once best selling author appears to be undergoing a revival, as he was recommended to me by a friend.
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on 8 November 2013
I read this book years ago and was eager to revisit it as I recently saw "The Sea Wolves" (the film based on this highly secretive World War 2 operation and this book). I have to admit, I always find true stories to be easier and more rewarding to read and this book is no exception. I would thoroughly recommend "Boarding Party" to anyone who likes true stories or just a good old exciting war story. Very well written and has educational advantages as well as a good pace. Terrific!!!
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on 12 May 2014
Having seen the excellent Movie I was pleasantly surprised that the book is just as good and made a really good read
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on 16 September 2014
A most daring operation enjoyable read, well written and from what I understand a factual account of a daring wartime action by non active Territorial Army unit. I have seen the film several times which differs in some part to the written account but neither detracts from the other.
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