Secret Flotillas, Clandestine Sea Operations To Brittany 1940-1944, Vol 1

B1838

The operations to Brittany were of immense value to the Allied cause. While Britain stood alone against Germany, the frequent sailings to the enemy coast were a constant reminder to Germany that British forces would again land in Europe to liberate the occupied countries and that even alone, Britain was capable of striking back. A variety of British and French fishing boats were used in these operations, as were the seventy foot MTB and MGB fast attack craft, but many operations employed the much larger Fairmile A, B and D boats that were very heavily armed for their size and could be considered scaled down destroyers built in wood. Even by 1944, when these operations had been continuing for more than four years, the Germans still had only the most limited success in intercepting missions. For much of this time, the British clandestine sailings were of such frequency and regularity that they were like a marine bus service, taking covert operatives and weapons to and from occupied Brittany and exfiltrating agents, resistance fighters, evaders and POW escapees.

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NAME: Secret Flotillas, Clandestine Sea Operations To Brittany 1940-1944, Vol 1
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
FILE: R1838
DATE: 220613
AUTHOR: Brook Richards
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 372
PRICE: £30.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: MTB, MGB, MFV, sail boats, torpedo boats, gun boats, clandestine, agents, covert landings, infiltration, exfiltration, French Resistance, commando, intelligence gathering, Vosper, British Power Boats, Fairmile
ISBN: 1-78159-080-X
IMAGE: B1838.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/n56vd7r
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: In 1940, Germany controlled the coast of Europe South from North Cape to the border with Spain. Although Spain declared itself neutral, the political interests of the Spanish Government made the Spanish coast compliant with many German interests. However, Germany failed to defeat Great Britain and the British withdrawal at Dunkirk was only a temporary event. Inevitably, British troops would return to the European mainland and the only question was “When?”.

By evacuating British and French troops from the open beaches at Dunkirk, the BEF was forced to leave its equipment behind. Even the bulk of its small arms were abandoned. That left Britain initially without any significant armed force for self-defence at home, but war production was rapidly increased, new volunteers and conscripts taken into the Services and trained to fight. Significantly, Britain retained almost all of its fighter aircraft and a well-developed and advanced command and control system with radar to detect enemy aircraft in time to scramble a fighter screen. The challenge facing Churchill in 1940 was how to maintain contact with enemy forces and collect intelligence while the land forces were being rebuilt and shipping losses replaced. He immediately ordered the RAF to begin bombing raids and to match each German bombing development. That saw increasing numbers of increasingly powerful bombers flying deep into German territory, taking the battle to the enemy homeland and damaging enemy installations and resources in the occupied countries.

What was needed was a system of contact, attack and intelligence gathering from the sea. Britain was fortunate in having aggressive boat commanders and soldiers, prepared to engage in this form of fighting. Initially, some of this action was unauthorised and not directed by the commanders and politicians. During the Dunkirk evacuation, civilian and Navy manned small craft made their way to Dunkirk without orders. One such vessel was MTB 102. Her skipper, Chris Dryer, was tasked with developing tactics for the new fast patrol and attack craft that would be built in their thousands. Hearing about the possible evacuation, he took his craft across to offer what service he could. In the closing stages, MTB 102 became the Flagship for Admiral Wake-Walker who transferred his Flag after the destroyer Keith was sunk under him. Steadily, this aggressive instinct was harnessed under directed command.

The author was authorized to access classified records for the purposes of this book and for the second volume covering clandestine sea operations in the Mediterranean. The author has used this access, and his own wartime experiences, to write what must be the definitive account of these secret activities.

It is a gripping story than holds the reader’s attention.

The operations to Brittany were of immense value to the Allied cause. While Britain stood alone against Germany, the frequent sailings to the enemy coast were a constant reminder to Germany that British forces would again land in Europe to liberate the occupied countries and that even alone, Britain was capable of striking back. A variety of British and French fishing boats were used in these operations, as were the seventy foot MTB and MGB fast attack craft, but many operations employed the much larger Fairmile A, B and D boats that were very heavily armed for their size and could be considered scaled down destroyers built in wood. Even by 1944, when these operations had been continuing for more than four years, the Germans still had only the most limited success in intercepting missions. For much of this time, the British clandestine sailings were of such frequency and regularity that they were like a marine bus service, taking covert operatives and weapons to and from occupied Brittany and exfiltrating agents, resistance fighters, evaders and POW escapees.

When D-Day arrived, much of its success was down to the very brave people who had conducted clandestine sea operations to the area. These individuals had acquired vital information, spread false information to the Germans, assisted in the growth and training of the French resistance fighters, undertaken sabotage and measured the strength of German defences. The operations also formed a key part of the exfiltration process of bringing out downed airmen and escaping POWs. The return on investment was considerable and the damage to German morale was significant.

An outstanding and unique account of one of the least known but most important campaigns of the Second World War.

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