Based on AIR 20/8459, this is an Official History that provides the most accurate and detailed review of RAF/SOE operations during WWII. This is a fascinating review that reads well and contains rare images in its photo-plate section – a very worthwhile book opening up a previously obscured period of history.
NAME: RAF and the SOE, Special Duty Operations in Europe During WW2, An Official History FILE: R2399 AUTHOR: preface, John Greham PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword, frontline BINDING: hard back PAGES: 309 PRICE: £25.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: SOE, MI6, MI5, Special Operations, Resistance Movements, supplies, training, air-drops, STOL, Lysander, Halifax, Whitley, Special Duties, Occupied Europe, SDP, Gestapo, Maquis, World War Two, Second World War, WWII, WW2 ISBN: 9781-47389-413-6 IMAGE: B2398.jpg BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/j36cpu8 LINKS: Current Discount Offers http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/sale DESCRIPTION: Based on AIR 20/8459, this is an Official History that provides the most accurate and detailed review of RAF/SOE operations during WWII. This is a fascinating review that reads well and contains rare images in its photo-plate section – a very worthwhile book opening up a previously obscured period of history. After Dunkirk, Great Britain and the Commonwealth stood alone against Nazi oppression and occupation. The deprivations of the politicians' obsession with spending 'peace dividends' and appeasing the Nazis had placed land forces in a perilous position in 1939. The small numbers of serving soldiers and reserves was grossly inadequate to fight a land war in Europe and their equipment was even more seriously neglected. When the BEF went to France in 1939 it was even less prepared to face the Germans than its noble predecessor in 1914. It lacked modern armour and artillery but, most seriously, it lacked effective air cover. The RAF was unable to send adequate numbers of modern fighter aircraft across and those squadrons of Hurricanes that did arrive were not supported by an effective command and control system. The evacuation from the beaches of Dunkirk may have been a miracle, but it meant that the hundreds of thousands of British and French troops plucked from the beaches had to leave behind all heavy equipment, and even small arms. Post-Dunkirk the inadequate number of trained troops and an almost total lack of heavy equipment placed the burden of defence on the RAF. Together with RN Fleet Air Arm pilots and pilots from Poland, Czechoslovakia, France and other over-run countries, supported by an advanced radar-based command and control system, fought off an enemy of numerical superiority, denying German air superiority over the British Isles and making a German invasion impractical. However, there was no prospect of a counter-invasion to liberate Europe and the option of RAF Bomber Command mounting a credible strategic bombing campaign was not available in mid 1940. Great Britain and the Commonwealth only had two viable options. One was to launch small hit and run commando raids on Occupied Europe. Commando units, inserted by air or by sea, could carry out surgical raids on carefully identified targets and create an impact far beyond the actual material damage and the small number of Special Forces troops involved. The second option was to contact, train, equip and support the growing number of Resistance groups that were being formed by patriots in the invaded countries to fight the third attempt to force a Union of Europe with a view to World domination. The challenge facing both options was in insertion, support and extraction across the Channel and the North Sea. The Shetland Bus Service was remarkably effective in supporting Scandinavian Resistance Forces, using small fishing vessels to evacuate people and return trained agents. Further South, submarines and Coastal Forces warships were able to provide some support, more frequently in extraction of commando troops and Resistance fighters, but aircraft had to accept a heavier responsibility because of the greater defences against vessels. Even in Norway, it was necessary to employ aircraft for weapons drops and even insert commando units by glider and parachute. The level of effectiveness of RAF Special Duties squadrons was so strong that readers may be very surprised to learn how few squadrons and aircraft were available for three of the five years. Only three squadrons bore the responsibility, being joined in 1943 by a forth squadron. For flying agents in and out of France, the extraordinary Westland Lysander proved a mainstay of the operations. Its incredible short take off and landing abilities enabled it to fly out of small remote airfields in England to equally primitive fields in France. The limited cabin space was augmented by a canister mounted under the fuselage. Some of the efforts of the Special Duty Squadrons have been made public before in books and films, fiction and non-fiction, but little coverage has been accorded the Bomber Command aircraft that participated in clandestine operations. This books benefits from the official record compiled at the end of WWII. This contribution became increasingly important in the preparations ahead of the Normandy landings, as larger and more numerous cargoes had to be delivered to Resistance Forces and insert agents, both to acquire intelligence and prepare a sabotage program to cut communications to prevent German reinforcements arriving quickly to counter the D-Day beachheads. This is a detailed account of an extraordinary story, opening a window into what has been a darkened room of WWII history.