The Atlas of Special Operations of World War Two

AtlasSpecialOps

 

Essential reading for anyone interested in Special Operations. The book is very nicely produced with colour through the body of the book. There are maps as the title suggests, but there are also well-chosen photographs to support each operation’s section. The scope includes a wide range of special operations, and not just commando style raiding. The book feels really comprehensive but the author makes no claims to having covered every operation, rather he has selected a range of example operations.

The author has comprehensively covered the global nature of special operations in WWII and the 
book deserves great success in providing global scope of special operations.

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NAME:  The Atlas of Special Operations of World War Two
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 180514
FILE: R1974
AUTHOR: Alex Swanston
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES:  180
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT:  WWII, World War Two, Second World War, 1939-1945, commando, special 
operations, SOE, OSS, bombing, intelligence, sabotage, reconnaissance, land, sea, air,
 submarines, MTB, MGB, Coastal Forces, covert operations
ISBN: 1-84884-97-2
IMAGE: B1974.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.comq2hl7bu
LINKS: 
DESCRIPTION: Essential reading for anyone interested in Special Operations. The book is 
very nicely produced with colour through the body of the book. There are maps as the title 
suggests, but there are also well-chosen photographs to support each operation's section. 
The scope includes a wide range of special operations, and not just commando style raiding. 
The book feels really comprehensive but the author makes no claims to having covered every 
operation, rather he has selected a range of example operations.

He begins with the Brandenburgers who were covert agents infiltrated into Poland to spread 
panic and create situations that Nazi propaganda would then try to use to justify invasion of a 
peaceful neighbour in much the same way that the Russian neo-Nazi Putin has been using 
Russian special forces in Ukraine recently. The success of the Brandenburgers in Poland led 
to them being used on all fronts during WWII.

The invasion of Norway was the first occasion when a military force used a combined sea, air 
and land force to overwhelm a neutral country. This then became the basis on which a number 
of later Axis and Allied invasions were based. After El Alamein, the Germans were forced 
increasingly back onto a defensive posture and the combined force became an Allied standard 
for invasion on  progressively greater size operations, with D-Day seeing extensive use of 
airborne operations behind German defences in co-ordination with beach assault with specialist 
landing craft, prefabricated harbours and large numbers of warships providing shore bombardment 
ahead of the landings and in the early stages of establishment of the beach heads. After Normandy, 
the use of large numbers of airborne troops was employed in an attempt to seize a chain of bridges 
to speed an advance through Holland and into Germany. The final element of this assault failed, 
delaying the end of the war, but combined forces were then used for a Rhine crossing into 
Germany, where aircraft were used in the role developed by naval bombardment for coastal landings.

WWII saw the creation of commando or special forces raiding parties. All combatants established 
and used this type of force but most notably the British used commando raiding from 1940 to 
continue active contact with German Forces on the mainland of Europe. These raids ranged from 
very small, but significant, attacks launched from submarines, torpedo boats and by parachute to 
attack shipping in inland ports, targets of opportunity near coasts and to recover German technology 
for analysis, through to major raids at St Nazaire and Dieppe.

As the war continued, special operations included partisan and resistance operations where local 
groups in Occupied Europe were supplied, trained and co-ordinated from outside. These forces in 
France and in Russia played a vital role in the fight against Germany and have been credited by 
avoiding greater casualties in regular forces advancing on Germany. The number of special 
operations groups rose and many operated with great autonomy and included intelligence operations.

One challenge for the author must have been the huge scope available to him. He has included V 
weapons as a German special operation and the RAF Tallboy and Grand Slam precision earthquake 
bombs that were used against high value targets that were resistant against conventional bombing. 
The single assault by the Dam Busters has been covered and although this raid was not repeated, 
it was a tactically and operationally significant development in the art of war. One difficulty is that 
there are special operations that become so common and large scale that they almost stand outside 
a review of special operations. British and US special units in Burma were major campaigns that 
differed only from other conventional campaigns in that they took place some distance from the 
'front line' and required air support to keep the forces supplied. 

The author has comprehensively covered the global nature of special operations in WWII and the 
book deserves great success in providing global scope of special operations.