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Behind the Lines (Hardback)

A Critical Survey of Special Operations in World War II


By Michael F. Dilley
Imprint: Casemate Publishers
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781612001838
Published: 21st September 2013



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The array of new technologies that came on the scene in the early 20th century resulted in widely varied new forms of military special operations once civilisation embarked on its greatest war. Suddenly, fighting men could be delivered by parachute, submarine, glider, jeeps, and fast amphibious craft deep into enemy territory to perform special tasks; yet others would continue to perform missions the same as their ancestors in previous wars—on foot using stealth, endurance and patience.This work contains discussions of the employment of various special purpose, special mission organisations during World War II. These units operated in Allied and Axis countries and in various theatres of war including Europe, North Africa, the Pacific, Asia, and the continental United States. Representing every major combatant, the operations include various kinds of raids, intelligence gathering missions, support to partisan/guerrilla groups, prisoner rescues, direct-action missions, and at least two where the object was simply to steal something. Some missions would have been officially denied if the operations had been caught in the act.The book is divided into two sections: Behind Enemy Lines and Behind Friendly Lines, to demonstrate that special-purpose organisations can be employed wherever needed, even in areas controlled by military units of their own or allied countries. Many of the units described run the gamut of special mission types, from commando to parachute units, reconnaissance to sabotage units, and partisan training units as well as those with combined missions. Many of the operations described in this book continue to serve as templates for modern Special Operations missions, while still others—the first attempts of their kind—continue to serve as examples of what not to try under the circumstances.Michael F. Dilley served for 20 years in the U.S. Army’s Military Intelligence branch, and for 25 years with the Department of Defense as a contractor in various fields of research, instruction, and investigation.

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