Behind Enemy Lines with the SOE (Hardback)
With his special forces training completed, Sergeant Roland Barker was allocated to Operation Arundel as its radio operator. Led by Captain Martin Smith MC, he was parachuted into the Dolomites in 1944. The team’s brief was to cause havoc in the area around the Italian border and to infiltrate into Austria.
Whilst attempting to evade German forces, Sergeant Barker and Major Bill Smallwood were navigating mountainous terrain when the Major fell injuring himself and thus was unable to move rapidly. Despite their best efforts, both Smallwood and Barker were subsequently captured by pursuing German troops who they were unable to outpace.
Barker provides a vivid account of being ‘interrogated’ by the SS and Gestapo and despite the threats and the terrible conditions, the true nature of their mission was never revealed to the enemy. Having survived these experiences, he was incarcerated in Stalag Luft XVIII in Southern Austria. Ever defiant, Barker escaped by having himself admitted to the camp hospital and made his way into Hungary, from where, as this account of his wartime service reveals, he was eventually repatriated to the UK.
After the war Barker opted to remain in the Army, at which point he took a commission. Promoted to Major, Barker became the Officer Commanding 22 SAS in Malaya. He was killed in a helicopter crash in Malaya in 1953, before he could see through his plan to have his memoir published.
There is so much we still don't know about the amazing exploits of the offiers of the S.O.E. during WWII - this account of the life and career of Major E C R Barker is one story, and is a stark reminder of the dangers they faced and the intense secrecy of their missions and undertakings.Books Monthly
Ernest Van Maurik, known to all simply as ‘Van’, joined the illustrious Artists Rifles regiment in the Territorial Army in 1936, but when war broke out he was commissioned into the Wiltshire Regiment. In the summer of 1940 the regiment was posted at Folkstone to defend the South Coast in the event of an invasion, during which time he undertook a course at Hythe Small Arms School and found himself involved with the SOE, the Special Operations Executive. This led to him to Scotland, first to the Commando Training School at Lochailort and then to Arisaig, where he became responsible for helping…By Ernest Van Maurik
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