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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 21 February 2012
For a variety of reasons I have read everything ever published about Operation Frankton and I corresponded with Bill Sparks in the years just before his death. Robert Lyman, as someone recently said, has yet to produce a bad book and Operation Suicide is another winner. All the previous books on this subject, including Bill Sparks' own, "The Last of The Cockleshell Heroes" natually enough concentrated on the operation and the aftermath, triumph and tragedy together. Robert Lyman gives all the action period everything it deserves but for me what makes this book different is the meticulous research on the background to the raid and why it was so important. Details on the actual cargoes being discharged at Bordeaux make it clear that the blockade runners were regularly adding a vital contribution to Germany's war effort. Indeed the situation was undoubtedly so concerning that it says much for the moral standards of those then in charge of our war effort that they refrained from bombing the harbour because of the risk to French civilians.It must have been very tempting to flatten Bordeaux harbour but they didn't. There are many people in Afghanistan today who would have appreciated such a scrupulous policy. Whether or not, as Winston Churchill said, the raid shortened the war by six months, doesn't really matter. A small group of astonishingly brave men offered their lives to disrupt the enemy's flow of war materials and Robert Lyman tells their story beautifully. As with all things British the actual behind the scenes organisation left something to be desired and better communication and cooperation between MI6, SOE and the French Resistance would probably have saved more lives. That too is another fresh insight that Robert Lyman brings to this story. Operation Frankton has been described as the outstanding commando raid of the war and this author certainly does it justice.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 March 2012
this is a very good account of a remarkable raid by a group of extremely brave commandos,I had the good fortune to work with Bill Sparks during the 1960s[on London Transport]. Bill was a very modest and quiet man and a true hero,his bravery was without question and the journey that he and his C.O.made to escape the nazis is a true example of courage and determination.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2012
The book I previously read about this raid was so crammed full of facts the that it almost made it boring. This book provides fascinating insight into the evolving and competing intellegence outfits operating under Churchill and gives the story a tension even thought one knows the outcome. We have a house near the Gironde so I find it all interesting indeed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 December 2012
This is the second book I've read written by Robert Lyman. I had high expecations and I wasn't disappointed.

Robert, in some detail, estabishes the context for the raid in terms of Britain's place in the war at this time. This is crucial to understanding why the raid went ahead when it did.

I thought what Robert did best was bring alive the dedication and utter courage of these men. The same can be said for the many unsung heroes amongst the ordinary people of occupied France. What a contrast to the Nazi's attitude, incidentally Robert describes a couple of them with the best use of the word "toady" I have ever seen.

I thoroughly recommend this book, I have just downloaded his book on Tobruk, the Longest Siege, and can't wait to read it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2012
We live in strange times. This group of Royal Marine Commandos pulled off an impossible task. They lost most of the team to the elements or the Nazis. Could we sustain such losses today? Given the outpouring of national emotion over Iraq and Afghan I have my doubts. A really good book that tells the whole story in a clear and concise manner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2013
I've read most of the books on Operation Frankton, because it's such a fascinating & inspiring story. Lyman's account shines out for all the research into the German military papers, allowing us to understand who was really responsible for the atrocious treatment meted out to four of our heroes. Also, Lyman is very good on how the jealous, turf-guarding bureaucracy between Combined Operations & the SOE failed to add any value to the planning of the raid (this is an understatement). There is one critical aspect of the Frankton planning which was totally overlooked by the otherwise meticulous Blondie Hasler, and which cocked up the whole mission right from the start. I am referring, of course, to the two tide-races encountered by our heroes near the Cordouan lighthouse, only hours after leaving HMS Tuna, and which were responsible for the loss & subsequent death of four of the commandoes. How was it possible that the existence of these natural obstacles was unknown and unforeseen ? Like all his predecessors, Lyman sheds no light on this deadly episode. Last point, the bibliography makes no mention of Paddy Ashdown, or his book "A Brilliant Little Operation", published at the same time; I can't help wondering why ...?
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on 5 March 2014
One of, if not the, best written historical account of a WWII story I have ever read. Robert Lyman is not only a historical master at researching the facts that his novel reflects but he possesses the unique ability to record the facts within the parameters of a wonderfully well written novel. Never boring, which many many fact based accounts are, and I have read a few in my time! but this is one I found I just could not put down.
Having watched the original film and read C.E. Lucas-Phillips original novel, "Cockleshell Heroes", both left many questions unaswered. Robert's novel fills in all the missing gaps due to his exhaustive new research especially the information revealed in German records.
Both sad and sickening yet fascinating to at last learn of the fate that befell the eight missing members of Hasler's team who did not return! Also of the fate of those brave French civilians who were detained and subsequently murdered by the Germans for giving succour to the team members on the run. Sometimes I feel the French never quite get the sympathy and recognition they deserve for what they suffered at the hands of the German Army of Occupation!
A truly great read for anyone interested in an enthralling tale of courage and adversity. So good it is hard to believe it is true. Well done Robert Lyman.
John Armstrong 5/03/14
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2012
I have read hundreds of such books and this is certainly in the upper 10% of them meriting 5 stars. Readable and informative and seems to be well researched although it's not entirely consistent with Paddy Ashdown's recent book.

I also think the title's a bit sensationalist but I really did find it fascinating and clearly a mission driven along by one slightly mad bloke!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 July 2013
This story was well written and well presented. One of the best books I've read on WW2 of late. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2014
A splendid book, it is extremely well researched and holds the readers interest throughout. I've read other accounts of the cockleshell raid but nothing comes close to this. I was disappointed when I came to the end, but then discovered 'Into the jaws of death' by the same author. That's next on my reading list.
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