The SAS in Occupied France
...1 SAS Operations June to October 1944, from Pen & Sword
Title: The SAS in Occupied France
Author: Gavin Mortimer
Publisher: Pen & Sword
I suspect that for many, thoughts of the work of the SAS in WW2 will jump first to their time in North Africa and maybe then in Italy. Less well known are their missions in NW Europe, behind the lines in France, and working with the Maquis, disrupting and delaying German reinforcements getting through to the Normandy front lines. This 202-page hardback is the first of two books which will correct that, with the detail of operations completed by 1 SAS in the period of June to October 1944. That's not all though, as there are battlefield guides for the tourer as well.
Following the guide for How to use this book and an Introduction, the rest is divided into 8 chapters plus some extra detail held in the 4 appendices. A chapter each explores 6 individual operations, and these are Titanic, Bulbasket, Houndsworth, Gain, Haggard & Kipling, plus others on some of the personal stories of Legends of the SAS and finally The Bond that Endures, the remaining links between those men and the people of France in the areas where they carried out their missions. The various missions had varying degrees of success, and while some of the team member survived, some others did not. Each of the individual operations adds the the accounts of the missions with a guide for the battlefield visitor who would like to visit the specific site and memorials where the SAS men fought. These are battlefield sites which are visited far less than the famous ones on the Normandy beaches, or of the Western Front. A book that would be good to take with you on a trip/holiday to France.
Some brave men took part in these missions, had varying degrees of success. They worked with local Maquis teams and in a number of these local areas. A number of them rest in their graves in the area, which are locally maintained. The tours are nicely described, accompanied by photos not only rare archive ones, but also with modern colour images showing what is there to be seen to this day. Just remember to read the guide notes about being in some of the forested areas if you are there in the 'Hunting' season. It made me keen to see the back of the current Covid restrictions on travel, and look forward to the day when we can get back out to France and start exploring again.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for our review copy.