The author has thoroughly researched this fascinating book about the life of Bob Laycock. This provides a new insight into Laycock and the development of British Special Forces during WWII. Highly Recommended.
NAME: Commando General. The Life of Major General Sir Robert Laycock KCMG CB DSO FILE: R2413 AUTHOR: Richard Mead PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword BINDING: hard back PAGES: 240 PRICE: £25.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: WWII, World War 1I, World War Two, Second World War, Middle East, Staff officer, Special Service Brigade, Rommel Raid, Sicily, Salerno, Combined Operations Normandy, Sword Beach, Gold Beach, liberation of Europe, Caen break out, SAS, Governor of Malta ISBN: 1-47385-407-5 IMAGE: B2413.jpg BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/jdfwtp2 LINKS: Current Discount Offers http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/sale DESCRIPTION: The author has thoroughly researched this fascinating book about the life of Bob Laycock. This provides a new insight into Laycock and the development of British Special Forces during WWII. Highly Recommended. Special Forces were not new to Britain in 1940. The Royal Marines were essentially a Special Force from their inception, in the 17th Century, specifically created to provide the Royal Navy with soldiers who could be employed in 'cutting-out' raids and other actions ashore and afloat where a small but highly trained unit could be profitably employed. The British Army also produced a number of Special Forces, often in response to a new military technology or new tactics that demanded skills not existing in the Regiments and Corps that were used to form armies. This dates back to the Middle Ages with the creation of artillery units, and continued with the formation of the Rifles and their use in Portugal by Wellington as special units and as small groups of marksmen assigned to regular Regiments of Foot. In WWI, the Machine Gun Corps and the Tank Regiment were examples of special forces that were deployed with regular established Regiments to provide new skills and technology. What marked the Special Forces of WWII out from previous special formations and units was that they were specifically intended to be used where regular troops could not reliably be deployed. They became a family of 'private armies' that were specially equipped with vehicles, boats and even aircraft. Some units survived only in the period of hostilities, but most units were to become a permanent part of the forces available to the Royal Navy and the Army for special missions. In 1940, the withdrawal of the BEF and large numbers of French soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk marked effectively the end of the Battle of France. As most of the BEF's equipment had been left behind, and those unable to get off the beaches were POWs, Britain was in a difficult position. The industrial complex performed miracles in turning out new tanks, guns and aircraft. Emergency purchasing from the US was stepped up to add to the necessary equipment, and a series of new training programs started to turn out large numbers of sailors, soldiers and airmen to use this equipment. In the beginning this was directed to building defences against any attempted German invasion of the British Isles. There was not even the expectation that the hastily rebuilt resources might be used to attack the Germans in the Occupied Territories. Churchill proved to be an aggressive and creative war leader. One of his first actions on taking office was to demand plans to take the war to the Germans. This featured a massive aircraft building program to produce long range heavy bombers that could carry a large bomb load to the furthest reaches of Germany itself. Shipbuilding was expended and some very creative programs got underway to produce very large numbers of Coastal Forces craft for coastal convoy escort, mine sweeping and attacks on enemy shipping. To augment this warship construction, fishing vessels were taken and adapted as armed trawlers for mine sweeping and additional convoy escorts. The more difficult matter was how soldiers might be equipped and trained to raid the enemy coast and to perform special duties in support of infantry and armour in theatres such as North Africa. In 1940, Bob Laycock was a 33 yr old captain, bound for a staff job. His career was transformed when he was selected to command 8 Commando which was one of the first Special Forces units to be formed. In a month he went from Captain to Lt. Colonel. One of the officers he recruited into 8 Commando was David Sterling who was to go on to found the SAS which has become a classic Special Operations force that has been much copied by military organizations around the world. During 1940, British Commandos began raiding Occupied Europe. Initially, this was in very small groups against specific targets. One target was to be port installations and another was to be German radar sites, the latter to capture technology and bring it back to Britain for analysis. One of the early challenges was finding methods of transport. This often meant that a small Commando unit would be parachuted into enemy territory, achieve its objective and be extracted from the nearest beach by gunboats or submarines. As confidence grew, and suitable transport became available, raids became more frequent and larger numbers of Commandos were used. In Laycock's case, he was sent to the Middle East. This was not as successful as hoped, and after heavy losses, without reinforcements being available, his unit was disbanded and he was brought back to command the Special Service Brigade which was the umbrella formation for the Commandos. In 1943, Laycock led his Brigade in the landings on Sicily and Salerno. He was then brought back to Britain to take over Combined Operations from Mountbatten and became the youngest Maj Gen in the British Army. His contribution to the development of Special Forces was considerable for the rest of the war. In 1947, he resigned from the Army and served as Governor of Malta from 1954 to 1959. He was later to become Colonel of the SAS. This was an incredible career and makes great reading.