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Commando (Paperback)

Memoirs of a Fighting Commando in World War Two

WWII Greenhill Books Greenhill: WWII

By Brigadier John Durnford-Slater
Greenhill Books
Pages: 240
Illustrations: 32 black and white
ISBN: 9781784385606
Published: 28th July 2020

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Commando is the real and exciting story of one of the most important units of World War II. The Commando unit played an important role in Britain’s successes and, here, Durnford-Slater gives his first-hand and unique point of view on everything that happened.

Brigadier Durnford-Slater raised and trained the first Commando unit in 1940, and Commando tells the brilliant story of an outstanding leader and some of the most courageous exploits of the Second World War.

In 1940, 3 Commando was created to harry opposition forces in raids impossible for regular army units. Durnford-Slater led No. 3 Commando on an exploratory operation in Guernsey in summer 1940, and never looked back after that. From there, No. 3 Commando orchestrated raids on the Loften Islands and Vaagso in Norway and Dieppe, as well as operations in Sicily, Italy, France and Germany.

The commandos were so effective at creating destruction that Hitler personally ordered that all fighters captured during these missions be executed. Despite this immense threat, the commandos’ spirit remained undented and extremely high.

This excellent, first-hand account explains the creation of Commando, the nature of their operations, the high level of camaraderie between the men and the effect that they had on the course of the War. It is an exciting and instructive guide to what really went on with Commando.

This is a reprinted book by Greenhill Books, which tells the stories of the No.3 Commando unit and how it came about and how it participated in a number of raids and missions from Norway throughout the war and to the D-Day Landings. This book was first published in the 1950’s, it was an exciting book then and it’s still an exciting book now after all these years. In fact it’s very reminiscent of the old Commando comics of years gone by. Written by John Durnford-Slater, this is his first-hand account of the creation, development of the unit where we have a unique in-sight in to its missions and raids.

A couple of good things that stand out in this book is the great telling of the stories and adventures the unit went through considering everything was new. But the other good thing to come out of it is the comradery, team-work and respect not just between the officers in the unit but right down to the ordinary. This unity I would say is why the unit did so well and forged a positive way for it to work in future years and the commando’s to become such a successful unit. This was a thoroughly good read, and written well as I don’t normally prefer these types of book when they’re written by the person in charge. A book I would definitely recommend, a good blast from the past.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read the full review here

UK Historian

This work has much to offer anyone studying leadership and command. Durnford Slater sought intelligence, initiative and a sense of humour in his officers, perhaps recognising that sense of humour is the seventh core value of the Army. Every officer joined his unit as a subaltern, and every soldier as a private. He turned down Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat who would not relinquish his captain’s rank. His approach to paperwork and discipline will strike a chord with many ARRSE readers.

One glorious aspect of the memoir are the tales from the margins of military history, The punch-ups with Irish navvies and Royal Marines, the plot to blow up the German embassy in Dublin, booze ups in enemy territory, and the staged visits for VIPs to patrol no man’s land in Normandy against a controlled enemy. It turns over a corner of the rug under which much history is swept.

This book that should be of interest to any thinking soldier.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

The book, republished by Greenhill Books, is still as fresh in 2020 as it was in 1953, at the time of its first release. I loved the humor and the tight narrative of war action, as well as the description of real Commandos legends, such as Lord Lovat or Mad Jack Churchill, a guy going into battle with bow and arrow and a claymore sword. David Niven, an intelligence officer in the Commandos, also peeps into his stories.

Read the full Italian review here

On The Old Barbed Wire

Durnford-Smith's account of the extraordinary contribution commandoes made to warfare, particularly in WW2, is the kind of story I was reading in my Lion and Tiger comics in the 1950s. Enthralling stuff, the stuff of legend!

Books Monthly

For each generation of those with an interest in military history, this is a seminal work. A must read. Police officers with an interest in their past, will learn of the large numbers of their predecessors who met the challenge and served in this very early special forces’ unit.

Robert Bartlett, September 2020

Putting the initial "Special" in SF is the story of John Durnford-Slater and Commando 3 and the integral part they played in harassing German forces and giving a glimmer of hope early in the dark days of WW2 for the allies.

NetGalley, Ranger Harper

I Enjoyed everything about this book there was nothing I didn't like about the book.

NetGalley, Nicole Bannister
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