Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
Closer to the truth than many war 'stories'
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.