12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Operation Suicide: The Remarkable Story of the Cockleshell Raid (Hardcover)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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Initial post: 8 Aug 2012 21:44:46 BDT
Last edited by the author on 8 Aug 2012 21:45:42 BDT
Paddy Ashdown's version of this story is coming out in September, and I know he really knows the subject, but who is Robert Lyman ? And what does he add that the Quentin Rees version missed out ? Cheers ...
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Aug 2012 08:03:05 BDT
Last edited by the author on 12 Aug 2012 11:12:30 BDT
Hello there. I'm not exactly sure of the point you are making. I was reviewing and commenting on a book published early this year and you seem to be comparing it with a book yet to be published. The fact that Paddy Ashdown was in the Corps doesn't make him an expert on the Cockleshell Raid. Robert Lyman is a highly regarded military historian who wrote among other things by far the best work on Field Marshal Bill Slim. In my opinion Operation Suicide is a much more scholarly work than the book by Quentin Rees. Lyman's research into the shipping cargoes and the lack of cohesion between the different cloak and dagger outfits gives his book at least two points of difference. What would still be very useful is an investigative work which published the names and photographs of those responsible for the murder of Royal Marines who were in full uniform engaged in a perfectly correct act of warfare.
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Aug 2012 09:25:14 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Aug 2012 09:26:52 BDT
I take your points; you are obviously an expert, I am not, I simply didn't know who Lyman is. Thanks for your response, although I am disturbed by your use of the word "murder". Couldn't it be argued that the Marines were brave, naïve, and patriotic soldiers, not mindless zombies. This attitude does not preclude publishing the names of "those responsible".
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Aug 2012 11:50:16 BDT
Last edited by the author on 12 Aug 2012 11:13:46 BDT
Hello again and thanks for your email. I used the word murder quite deliberately because that is exactly what happened. Operation Frankton was a legitimate military act carried out by men in full uniform who were entitled to all the protection of the Geneva Convention. Shooting them was a war crime and those responsible committed murder. No one was ever punished for that crime. In France during 1940 a number of soldiers from the Norfolk Regiment were captured and then shot. After the war the German officer responsible was traced, tried, convicted and executed. The families of those Royal Marines deserved the same justice. The Germans hid behind the defence that shooting Commandos was ordered by Hitler. That is no defence in law and it is still not too late to at least make public the identities of all those involved even if, as is highly likely, they are no longer around.
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Aug 2012 12:54:56 BDT
OK thanks for your comprehensive response, now I understand - & fully agree !
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Nov 2013 14:46:09 GMT
I suppose that with all books, there is always something which is missed out - due to lack of knowledge at the time of writing, or perhaps thought to be irrelevant, or not considered to be part of the plot. We now have a number of books on Operation Frankton, and all have added something to the overall story. Paddy Ashdown has added a lot on what happened to members of the Operation Frankton raid and I am grateful for this. Let us hope that in time there are further books to give us a bit more of the story. What I should like to see is a book about the jealousies within the Heads of Services which failed to cooperate fully with each other with the result that there were several plans to attack shipping in Bordeaux Harbour but no one seems to have been aware of other efforts being made, which resulted in waste of effort and manpower.....
In reply to an earlier post on 11 Dec 2013 00:22:02 GMT
Great Teacher Andrew says:
While Lyman does point out that Combined Operations and SOE did not communicate effectively (directly leading to a botched escape plan), he dismisses the notion that other attacks were being planned. The French Resistance network in Bordeaux did not have enough explosives and the earliest they could carry out an attack would have been spring 1943, he argues. Lyman also attributes the lack of communication to secrecy regulaions, rather than jealousy, which was more of an SOE-MI6 trait.
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