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George Jellicoe (ePub)

SAS and SBS Commander

Maritime > Naval Military > Biographies > Military Biographies Military > Memoirs Military > SAS & Special Forces P&S History > British History P&S History > By Century > 20th Century WWI > Battles & Campaigns > Jutland WWII > Battles & Campaigns > North Africa WWII > Naval Warfare WWII

By Nicholas Jellicoe
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 30.6 MB (.epub)
Pages: 384
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399009454
Published: 4th June 2021


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George Jellicoe, son of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, commander of the British Grand Fleet at Jutland, was never compromised by his privileged upbringing. In this insightful biography, his son describes a life of action, drama, public service and controversy.

George’s exploits with the newly formed SAS, as David Stirling’s second-in-command, and later commanding the SBS, make for fascinating reading. Over four years it embraced the North African and Mediterranean campaigns and culminated in the saving of a newly-liberated Athens from the communist guerrillas of ELAS.

The brutality of Stalinist communism led him to join the post-war Foreign Office. In Washington he worked with Kim Philby and Donald Maclean in the cloak and dagger world of espionage. Resigning in 1958 so he could marry the woman he loved, he turned to politics. Although his ministerial career ended in 1973 after unwittingly become entangled with the Lambton scandal, he continued to sit in the House of Lords becoming ‘Father of the House’. He held numerous public appointments including President of the Royal Geographical Society, Chairman of the Medical Research Council, President of the SAS Regimental Association and the UK Crete Veterans Association.

Thanks to the author’s research and access, this is more than a biography of a significant public figure. It provides fascinating detail of Special Forces operations and the characters of the countless figures with whom he mixed.

Book review: https://www.ijnhonline.org/book-review-george-jellicoe-sas-and-sbs-commander/

Highlight: '...an excellent addition for the bookshelves of those interested in the first generation of modern special operations leaders and organizations.'

International Journal of Naval History

George Jellicoe by Nicholas Jellicoe was probably the best military biography of 2021. It is an intimate and insightful study of a complex yet charismatic character, a rare and frank study of a father by his son. George Jellicoe was the son of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, commander of the British Grand Fleet at Jutland in 1916, yet he was never compromised by his privileged upbringing.
In this work his son, Nicholas, who has come late in life to write three extraordinary good books, describes his father's exploits in action and public service, as well as controversial episodes.
George Jellicoe was recruited in 1940 from the Scots Guards into the early SAS and later commanded the Special Boat Section (SBS) in the Mediterranean and the Aegean. His culminating wartime service was to save Athens from communist led guerrillas. Post-war Jellicoe served in the Foreign Office, and later in the House of Lords as a Tory minister, but the major part of this book gives amazing detail about British and Greek Special Forces during their amphibious campaign in the Mediterranean during WW2. There is an earlier biography of this British Achilles, but Nick Jellicoe's biography - focusing much more on George Jellicoe's career in Special Forces, on the SBS during the Greek campaign and on how this influenced his subsequent diplomatic career, and via anecdotes from George's life - makes a much more interesting book.
Thanks to the son's research and his unique access to records and individuals, this is a first class biography of a significant post WW2 public figure - would that there were more like George! - and the men and women in his ambit. If you only read one recently published WW2-related biography, then make it this one!

Peter Hore, Warships International Fleet Review

The name of Jellicoe is most frequently associated with the Admiral who commanded the Grand Fleet during the First World War, but in 1940 his son took an entirely different path, joining the fledgling Commandos before serving as Second-in-Command of the SAS, and then leading the SBS from early 1943 onwards. As the author of this biography is Jellicoe's son, there can be few who are better placed to provide so detailed a portrait of the man, but it is equally the story of these pioneering special forces units and sheds fascinating light on their organisation and tactics. The book is divided into four parts; the final two summarising his post-war career in the Foreign Office and the House of Lords, but the bulk of the narrative focuses on his wartime exploits, beginning with the formation of the SAS, its early operations, and the devastating raids of 1942 in which Jellicoe played an active role, while the SBS section describes their numerous operations across the Aegean in 1943 and 1944, culminating in their important role in the liberation of Greece.

Read the full review here

Pegasus Archive

In this book Nick Jellicoe has neatly retained the personal touch and yet remained objective about his father’s exploits throughout. Resourceful, brave and a proven leader, probably the most fitting testimony is the assessment that George Jellicoe was one of “Stirling’s finest officers”.

Peter Wykeham-Martin - Navy Books and Warship World

"...[Jellicoe's] son provides a fitting tribute to his father."

Read the review here


At 360 pages, this is a lump of a book but it’s put to good use by the author, Nicholas Jellicoe filling it with the most engaging accounts of the theatres of war in which his father participated, as well as the gathering of reminiscences from his contemporaries. All of George Jellicoe’s wartime associates – Stirling, Lassen, Tsigantes, et al – are introduced with a vignette, which is most interesting and helpful.

George Jellicoe was a Special Forces war hero, politician and an enormously complex and charismatic character.

Will other books be written about him? Maybe – but I venture to suggest that none will be as interestingly fact-filled and well written as this one.

Dick Kirby – author of The Brave Blue Line

Highlight: 'I enjoyed reading this book for a number of reasons, the first being that Nicholas covered more of his WW II activities, second he included LRDG references when they were appropriate (my primary interest) and third his writing style. Both books would be a great addition to anyone’s library.'

Full review available at:

Long Range Desert Group Preservation Society

Highlight: 'An exeptionally informative and enjoyable tribute to an important pioneer of Britain’s world-famous Special Forces and a stirring tale of a gallant young soldier who, through his strong sense of duty and obligation to society, went on to become a distinguished public servant in his quest to continue to serve his country.'

Full review available at: http://guardsmagazine.com/bookreviews/2021%20Autumn/02%20George%20Jellico.html

The Guards Magazine

As featured by Click here

Website of Forces Net - British Forces Broadcasting Service

This book is highly recommended as a good and extremely informative work. It goes at a pace and being the son of George Jellicoe, the work is enriched through access to people and documents others would be denied.

Robert Bartlett

Pen and Sword Military have pulled it off again: they have published yet another brilliant and readable military biography... This review can only skim over Jellicoe's career; buy the book and read it. It is probably the most interesting biography to appear so far this year.

5 mushroom-heads

Read the full review here

ARRSE (Army Rumour Service)

When researching my book, Churchill’s Folly, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing George Jellicoe, who, in the short time that we talked, struck me as a modest and yet colourful character, not untypical of his generation. Who better to relate the wartime experiences of the man than his son? Nick Jellicoe provides an insightful account, from his father’s early war service and later operations with the Special Air Service and Special Boat Squadron, and life post-war. Included are many tales about his father’s contemporaries, making this a most enjoyable read.

Tony Rogers, Author, Churchill’s Folly: Leros and the Aegean - The Last Great British Defeat of World War Two

An interesting history of the SAS and SBS during WW2. The author weaves not only the story of George Jellicoe into the book, but also many other figures from those organizations. There is a good balance of first hand accounts and stories of the various actions that took place. A very good read.

NetGalley, Ron Baumer

George Jellicoe. SAS and SBS Commander is not so much a traditional biography as a “life and times”-book. And what a life and what times! I don’t generally envy people who have been to war, but in George Jellicoe’s case I’ll make an exception.

Thomas Harder. Author of Special Forces Hero. Anders Lassen VC, MC

A hugely powerful tale of one of the most revered and inspirational Special Forces commanders of WWII

Damien Lewis, Best-selling author, SAS. Band of Brothers.

About Nicholas Jellicoe

Nick Jellicoe studied Chinese politics before working in advertising and running global communications for American Express and Rolex.
He has written two books on his grandfather Admiral Sir John Jellicoe who commanded the Grand Fleet at Jutland: Jutland – The Unfinished Battle and The Last Days of the High Seas Fleet, both with Seaforth Publishing.
His father George Jellicoe, the subject of this book, was a founder member of the Special Air Service. Later he went into politics and fittingly became the last holder of the office of First Lord of the Admiralty.
Nick has participated in numerous TV documentaries.
He is a Vice Patron of the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust and the Maritime Archaeological Trust.
He lives with his wife and one of his two daughters in Switzerland.

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