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on 16 July 2017
very enjoyable book delivered quickly
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on 29 April 2017
Fab
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on 14 May 2017
This is a story many people have never heard of and yet one of the most successful raids in the history of Special Warfare. If you have never heard of the raid on St Nazaire, well you are in for a treat when you read this book. I read it back on holiday in Rhodes in 1995 and loved it .
I came across the book by accident in a second-hand store ( before the Jeremy Clarkson documentary ) and was really impressed with the book
I personally found the style of writing excellent , and the choice of phrases and words , just fine and the meaning of some words today
in the English language might have changed a bit , but you can still understand it ( eg ' gay ' meant at the time ' happy ' )
This is tremendous - and a genuine 5 Star book !
I enclose a scan of the older copy by pan that I own ( which is better than the modern cover in my opinion )
review image
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on 31 December 2014
We must remember that English grammar and prose style has moved on since Lucas-Phillips wrote his book and you have to make an allowance for this in reading it in the 21st century.
However, once you settle into his particular approach of "lantern-jawed, stout yeoman" type descriptions of the British participants, you become completely gripped by their tale. Such courage and self-disregarding persistence to destroy their objectives in St. Nazaire in the face of overwhelming odds, adversity and pain leads to true admiration for the young men involved, both Navy and Commando.
Nor does Lucas-Phillips portray the German opposition as fools, but pays them respect as intelligent adversaries to be feared for their own fighting skills.
Very detailed, well described and with several incidents of that ironic, self-deprecating humour in the midst of murderous chaos that characterised the British at war, it is a book that any serious student of military history will thoroughly enjoy.
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VINE VOICEon 1 July 2003
If you're looking for a book on one of the most audacious, successful, bravely fought and quintessential commando missions of WWII then Saint Nazaire is almost certainly a leading contender. By all accounts, Lucas's book on the raid is as comprehensive as any but, having read it, if I was looking for a book on Saint Nazaire I'd look elsewhere first.
The raid itself was an immeasurable tonic for the British forces and the occupied French as it was the first and most perfect example of the policy of 'aggressive' defence. Great Britain has taken a good hiding during the Blitzkrieg and after Dunkirk was meakly licking her wounds and preparing defences to repel the German invasion which must come. The French were subdued, occupied and divided. Commando raids like Saint Nazaire were aimed at disrupting crucial strategic military facilities upon which the Germans relied and also just showing the world that, though we were on the back foot, Britain was still full of fight and not beaten yet. No objectives were more crucial (to the North Atlantic campaign) than the sub pens and, more so, the docks at Saint Nazaire.
The commando raid was 'saucy' in that it aimed to take the fight right to the heart of a German stronghold. It was also courageous to the point of suicidal, the commandos assaulting in flimsy wooden underarmed boats a port which was bristling on all sides with heavy weapons and infested with thousands of Germans. The raid was almost a complete success, though at an expectedly heavy toll.
With this kind of material, you'd think it would be hard to screw up a story like this. Somehow Lucas manages it though by being possibly the most irritating author I've ever had to endure. He tells the story in great detail and accuracy, but in an extremely irritating 'confidential', conversational and precious style. He continually introduces new characters or tantalizingly jumps ahead and mentions something that happens later and then says, "but we shall meet him/visit there in due course" or "but we meet see him later, when he will be manning the Lewis guns we've just seen being fitted to the quartedeck" or "You will recall the last time we saw so-and-so he was setting fuses in the pump house".
Lucas obviously has great respect for the people involved in the raid and wants to communicate the story of the raid accurately. But it just ends of slightly sycophantic and you just wish he'd quit with the stupid 'engaging' asides and get on with the story.
His descriptions of the men involved are banal and formulaic too, you get a brief physical description followed by some weird meaningless 'manly' attributes which gets extremely repetitive, "he was tall, gangly and had a firm jaw and determined brow", "he was stocky, broad and had an uncompromising gait and a stentorian voice which put men at ease".
The story behind this book is indeed great, but I'd hate to have to reads this particular book again.
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on 8 January 2013
Lucas Phillips writes a detailed and gripping account of the raid on the docks of St Nazaire by British commandos. The imaginative raid by the commandos achieves most of its objectives by its audacity and daring but at a high cost. The bravery of the men involved is simply beyond words belonging to a different age where sacrifice was a common byword for those who fought for freedom from the Nazi jackboot. A great read that takes the reader through the detailed planning of the raid, gives overviews of the men involved and a follows it through with an accurate violent narrative of this extraordinary raid carried out by men of immense courage against great odds and vastly superior firepower. The book leaves you in awe of the skill and determination of the British commandos and keeps you entertained throughout....a great read about one of the classic raids of all times.
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on 24 June 2010
Having watched the TV programme of the same name narrated by Jeremy Clarkson I decided to follow the story up in more detail through this book.

This is an excellent book accurately describing the events that unfolded against the odds during that epic battle.

A sobering thought-provoking read about courage and bravery in the face of towering opposition.
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Originally published in the 1950's, this is an account of the 1942 raid by British Commandoes on the french town of St. Nazaire. Their aim: to put the dock out of action so that the German battleship Tirpitz would never be able to go there for repair, should it ever get into the atlantic. The docks at St. Nazaire were the only ones in western europe that could take a ship of that size, so something needed to be done.

The book runs for two hundred and eighty three pages and is as comprehensive a record of the raid as you could hope to find. Starting with a note from the writer and then a forward from Lord Mountbatten, it uses relatively short chapters plus the occasional map and diagram to describe things.

The first chapter takes the interesting approach of describing what the french citizens of the town would have seen and heard when the raid took place. Then it jumps back in time to consider the planning of the raid itself.

Subsequent chapters cover the plans coming together, the involvement of key players on the allied side, from those who planned it to those who went on the raid. The training they went through. And finally around page one hundred and seven the raiders set sail.

A great many incidents happened once the attack went in, and with so much going on and so many different soldiers to jump back and forth between there's a lot of detail to take in. But throughout, the sheer daring and bravery of the attackers is enough to keep you reading, as their actions are an utterly compelling story. The writing style of the book can be a bit dry and dated at points but all these details are enough to keep you hooked throughout.

And it even details what happened next, from the aftermath in St. Nazaire to the fate of the attackers, culminating in a very moving reunion at war's end.

With photos, an index, and a list of all the attackers, this is as comprehensive a record of the raid as you could hope to find. And a fine tribute to all those who took part.
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on 16 February 2011
This story is one that needs never to be forgotten, about the brave Commandos and their Naval compatriots, and the daring raid they carried out in the Second World War.
This telling of the story is in depth and highly detailled (perhaps too detailled for some?), but conveys the passion the author has for the people and the raid. It's a very moving account, and it certainly brough a lump to my throat a number of times.

An excellent book.
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on 9 October 2015
This is a remarkable story involving great heroes. It is written in a gallant style that reminded me of Homer's Iliad. The complex story is related in a clear and logical manner. There are lots of diagrams to illustrate the events and force dispositions. A compelling read -very difficult to put down.
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