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Operation Jedburgh: D-Day and America's First Shadow War Paperback – 18 Nov 2013

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 401 pages
  • Publisher: The Penguin Press; Reprint edition (18 Nov. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143112023
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143112020
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.6 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 107,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Colin Beavan has finally lifted the curtain on their story. (Joseph E. Persico, author of "11th Month,11th Day, 11th Hour: Armistice Day World War I")

An exciting story of the lesser known side of D-Day . . . vividly told. (Antony Beevor, author of "Stalingrad" and "The Fall of Berlin 1945")

They were cloaked in shadow, mystery, and a touch of glamour, the Jedburghs, the most intensely secret warriors of World War II. (Joseph E. Persico, author of "Nuremberg")
An exciting story of the lesser known side of D-Day . . . vividly told. (Antony Beevor, author of "Stalingrad" and "The Fall of Berlin 1945")

About the Author

Colin Beavan is the author of Fingerprints: The Origins of Crime Detection and the Murder Case That Launched Forensic Science. He has written for Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly, Men's Journal, and Wired.

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By PJ on 13 Jan. 2015
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 20 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Story Of Operation Jedburgh's Impact On The D-Day Invasion 9 Dec. 2006
By H. J. Rossi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In Colin Beavan's OPERATION JEDBURGH, the now declassified files of the OSS (the precursor of the CIA) are opened to reveal the huge contribution of the French Resistance forces before, during and after the landings at Normandy. Strategic thinkers realized the potential value of the Resistance, but they also knew that these groups needed weapons, explosives, organization and training to be effective saboteurs.

The "Jeds" as the teams were called, consisted of two officers and an enlisted radio operator. One officer, either British or American, was the leader, and the second officer was from the country where the team was to operate (in this case, France). The early part of the book outlined the extensive training these teams underwent, including the dangerous technique of low-altitude parachuting.

So, into France the teams went. Right away, the Jeds were faced with the difficult task of redirecting the Resistance's priorities. All they wanted to do was kill Germans, rather than to assist in the important work of co-coordinating with the needs of the regular Allied forces at the beachhead. To a large extend, these tasks were successful, and the sabotage to delay German forces reinforcing the defenses at Normandy turned out to be critical, especially during the storms in the Atlantic immediately after the invasion.

Then, it was the formidable task of protecting the flanks of Patton's 3rd Army as they slashed across France to the German frontier.

Although I've read many books on the invasion, I'd never learned of the importance or successes of the Resistance during those desperate weeks at the beachhead and the eventual break out.

Well worth the reader's time and I would recommend this book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Behind the scenes insight into unconventional warfare and shadow armies 25 Feb. 2008
By Brandon A. Nordin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a solid narrative on the early implementation of spec ops "advisors" to corral the fractured French Resistance groups into a force capable of strategic action to support the Allied invasion. Written by the son of of one of the participants (who later become a big wheel in the CIA Operations branch), it never becomes overly sentimental - but it is also short on the analytical side too. It is more a straightforward retelling of a tale lost, if not in the fog of war, in part by time, in part that many of these activities were hidden in the TOP SECRET files for too long.

Some things of interest:

* While it is well known that Britain's SOE jealously sought to maintain control of Spec Ops in France and looked down their noses at their US cousins, they seem to have consciously welcomed American participation here: in part because their own talent pool was bleed out by this stage of the war.

* In a classic example of the callousness required in war - the Allies realized that most of the men and women they were sending (and training to send) into France to work with the Resistance would be caught, captured and dead by the time D-Day came along. So years before the invasion, they began to train a ready reserve of cadre leaders (the Jedburghs)to act as a co-ordinating leadership element. Must have taken balls and a hell of a lot of tact - not just to parachute behind enemy lines in the dead of night, but to walk up to a Resistance leader who had been fighting les Boche for years (most of the Jeds had seen no or little real combat action) and say "you report to me now". Amazing that it worked so well.

* There is some gripping stuff in here on the impact of the Jedburgh led Resistance - which was not just the oft told jamming of railway switches and hit and run raids, but near set piece battles as they fought delaying actions that prevented German armour from reaching Normandy. I was hugely surprised by the overall size of these Jedburgh-led Resistance "armies" - in the thousands, if not more, - a far cry from the 6 bearded guys huddled in a barn one normally associates with the topic.

* Fascinating descriptions of the amorality of war: from the need to take recalcitrant Resistance leaders for a short walk in the woods, to a period known as the "Purification" where nearly 30,000 French died at their compatriots' hands as part of the score settling and power struggle for post war control.

Overall a gripping read - I started on a trans-Atlantic flight and finished the next day. Recommend to any one with a good overall knowledge of Overlord and the Battle for France.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Real Heroes Behind German Lines: Finally Get Their Due ! 15 Oct. 2010
By Azpooldude - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Operation Jedburgh, by Colin Beavan, is the story of the super secret operations of clandestine allied fighters during World War II, before the invasion of D-Day. This informative book tells about the origins of the OSS and William "Wild Bill" Donovan, and how these special operation teams played a key role in aiding the war effort. From its conception, to the training and the actual operations, all is revealed in an easy to read and informative manner. Little has been written on this subject, due to its secrecy, but it finally comes to light in this fantastic book.
Their mission was to place teams of men in and around France to harass, destroy and kill Germans before the Allied invasion. The "Jeds", were teams of three men,, a leader, an assistant and a radio operator, and composed of members from America, England and France, that reeked havoc on a much larger and superior German army. These shadow armies, placed in strategic locations in France, would recruit local resistance fighters, "Maquis", to aid in their efforts. The stories are incredible and real, how theses men carried out suicidal missions on a daily basis. But, the risk were high and many were killed and captured. Many never even made it to the ground due to mishaps on airplanes when they got ready to jump into a drop zone, never even getting to start their mission.
Their efforts played a huge part in slowing many German divisions to an almost stand-still, which gave the Allies time to push into France and Germany. From blowing up bridges, derailing trains, and quickly ambushing enemy troops on their to way battle, these fighters were a major player in the war. They also protected the flanks of General Patton's Third Army and General Patch's southern advance, to help in Operations Breakout and Operation Dragoon. But, working with the Maquis, the resistance, also came with its problems. There were many factions, and traitors, with ties to communist, anti Franco groups, and De gaulle loyalist, all with different agendas. Also, very young and old men, consisting of farmers and bakers, had to be trained quickly in military operations, and discipline. These were constant problems but the overall success of the missions were successful.
The book goes in to detail about the individual Jeds and their teams. It starts with their training in America and England, what happens when they parachuted into France, how they recruited the resistance fighters, the actual operations and the daily living conditions they encountered. Many of the stories are quite exciting, leaving the reader on the edge of his seat. But be fair warned, there are very graphic descriptions of human sufferings and some are not for the faint of heart. This was a brutal war, with murder, atrocities, revenge, and torture by both sides. Maps and pictures are provided to give a visual aid to the reader.
In the end, the Jeds were disbanded, and after the war, neither England nor the Truman administration saw the need to continue this type of clandestine operations. But, things would change a few years later with the start of the Cold War, and in later years with other events. US Army Special forces was born in 1952, and many of the former Jeds, i.e William Colby and Jack Singlaub, would rise to national stature. The idea of a well trained and disciplined resistance, fighting along an army in conflict, gave birth to a new concept during World war II, and has continued in similar but in a lesser fashion since. Operation Jedburgh, and the stories told, finally come out of the shadows, and gives credit where credit was not given before.

Robert Glasker
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good addition to WWII or Unconventional Warfare Library 11 Jan. 2007
By Stratiotes Doxha Theon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Operation Jedburgh is a solid history of the unconventional warfare operation to strengthen the French resistance and prepare the way for the D-day invasion. The author does not hide the failures and does not over-stress the successes but provides an objective narative of the people and events. The writing style is pleasent and easy to read. A very good addition for any WWII or unconventional warfare history library.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little-known aspect of the Normandy invasion 16 May 2010
By David W. Nicholas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When the Allies invaded Normandy in 1944, the Germans had forces distributed around France. One of the larger formations was the 2nd SS Panzer Division, which was stationed in Toulouse. In cases such as this, armies devise contingency plans, so that everyone can act without much thought when a forseeable event occurs. In this case, the event was the landings in Normandy; the Germans planned to send the 2nd SS Panzer north to the beachhead if this occurred. It was supposed to take two days plus part of a third for the division to arrive near the beachhead; instead it took more than two weeks. While much of the difficulty in moving the formation was caused by Allied air attacks, a considerable portion of the delays was caused by French partisans, who blew up bridges, blocked roads, ambushed isolated small groups of Germans, and generally made a nuisance of themselves. While the partisans would have done this regardless of what the Allies did, they were much better organized, and better-armed, than they otherwise would have been. This was largely the result of training, equipping, and leadership provided by the teams operating under Operation Jedburgh. The American component of these teams was drawn from the ranks of the OSS SO (Special Operations) division, while the British and French components came from their respective organizations.

There were a number of these teams, organized prior to the start of the campaign, and inserted into France for the most part after the landings in Normandy had occurred. The teams typically consisted of 3 people, usually 2 officers and an enlisted radioman. They generally included at least one Frenchman, the thinking being that they would liaise better with the partisans than either a Brit or an American. The intent was to divide the personnel evenly between the three nationalities, and it worked out that way, more or less.

I really found this book very informative. The subject is one that's remained secret, or at least quiet, until relatively recently, and many of the participants never did speak about what they saw and did during this era. This book fills in a lot of gaps, and shows how this operation contributed to the Allied victory in France. I enjoyed this book and think it a valuable addition to my library; highly recommended.
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