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Hitler's Spies (Hardback)

Lena and the Prelude to Operation Sealion

WWII Hitler & the Third Reich Military

By Mel Kavanagh
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 320
Illustrations: 16 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526768728
Published: 29th October 2020

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September 1940: Britain stands alone against the might of the advancing German Army and the spectre of invasion looms.

Using a wealth of primary material including sources previously designated secret, this is the first book, written in English, dedicated to the story of the first four German spies who successfully arrived in the south of England.

Using the codename Operation Lena, it was the initial undertaking to necessitate Hitler’s invasion of England, itself codenamed Operation Sealion.

These men were to be the pathfinders, the scouts, the eyes and ears that would help the first invasion of England for several hundred years.

This extraordinary story stands as evidence of the only part of the invasion actually to arrive, of the abysmal quality of their selection and training, of the extraordinary fair-mindedness of a British jury, especially when Britain was gripped by spy paranoia.

This is possibly one of the most audacious and least known episodes of the Second World War.

Hitler's plan to invade Britain was thwarted at every turn, thankfully, but it would be naive to suppose that spies were not involved in the planning and organisation of what would have been the end of the world as we knew it. Mel's book follows the fascinating exploits of four of Hitler's spies - real-life Spooks!

Books Monthly

I love it when I get to review a ‘spy’ type book for Pen & Sword Books because it’s often a book full of stuff that hasn’t been revealed very often before. It’s often information not long revealed or items that have been hidden purposely for a number of years. This book is great because it follows 4 different stories of German spies and plans such as Operation Sealion, and what is good about this book is that the author has heavily relied on primary source materials such as documents, diaries, plans and letters. Credit should go to the author who has re-written this evidence well to write an extremely engaging book that keeps you interested and wanting more from it. Also we shouldn’t forget that this was at a time when Britain was having to fight Germany on its own. The photographs are good and add quite a bit to the book which is usually the case as these are very often never before seen photos. A really good book I would certainly recommend to others with a 4.5 star rating.

Read the full review here

UK Historian

The story of the first Nazi saboteurs is told in a thrilling new book, Hitler's Spies by Mel Kavanagh.

Daily Express 29/09/20

About Mel Kavanagh

Born in Hampshire, Mel Kavanagh spent his childhood in Surrey before joining the RAF in 1972.


He comes from a family steeped with military history. His father served with the army during WWII, serving overseas. Other relations served in the Royal Navy and RAF. His grandfather was at the Battle of Jutland during WWI aged just 16.


He spent many years in IT as a computer programmer and systems analyst before retraining as a teacher in 2003.


Hitler’s Spies: Lena, The Prelude to Operation Sealion is his first work in non-fiction.

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