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Special Forces Hero (Hardback)

Anders Lassen VC MC**

Military > Biographies Military > SAS & Special Forces Military > Victoria Crosses

By Thomas Harder
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 416
Illustrations: 60 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526787514
Published: 16th February 2021



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Until the German occupation of his native Denmark in April 1940 Anders Lassen had no interest in the War. Yet over the next five years he became a highly decorated Special Forces legend and the only non-Commonwealth recipient of the Victoria Cross.

After taking part in a mutiny on board a Danish ship, he made his way to Scotland. He first joined the Special Operations Executive before serving with the Small Scale Raiding Force, Special Air Service and Special Boat Service. He took part in the daring Operation Postmaster, off West Africa, and raided the Channel Islands and the Normandy coast. He saw most action in Eastern Mediterranean, fighting in Crete, the Dodecanese, Yugoslavia, mainland Greece and finally Italy.

In April 1945, now a major aged 24, he was killed at Lake Comacchio, where his gallantry earned him his posthumous VC.

This superb biography is not just a worthy tribute to an outstanding soldier, but a superb account of the numerous special force operations Anders was involved in.

Book review available at: https://thomasharder.dk/en/special-forces-hero-reviewed-lars-baerentzen-athens-review-books

Thomas Harder

As featured in 'Books of the Year'

Highlight: 'Major Anders Lassen won the Victoria Cross and the Military Cross (with two bars) for his courage during the Second World War, dying aged 24 on a special forces operation in Italy in April 1945 while displaying heroism that genuinely defies belief. In Special Forces Hero: Anders Lassen VC MC (Pen & Sword) Thomas Harder writes about his short life with sensitivity and insight.'

History Today

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Read the full article at : https://thomasharder.dk/en/anders-lassens-middle-east-commando-knife?fbclid=IwAR3IkPc45vxXOEtJgN2PIn2Ln-ovNf2lR9LekkvkDqDSQJ9iiRZvgdgFB-w

Thomas Harder

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Medal News

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Centre for Maritime Historical Studies, University of Exeter

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Kathimerini Newspaper

Special Forces Hero is a magisterial account of a young heroic Dane at war. His story deserves to be illuminated for another generation, not least because in bringing Anders Lassen back to life Thomas Harder paints a vivid and compelling picture of an extraordinary tribe of irregular citizen-soldiers whose spirit, panache and élan still lives on amongst those to whom that wartime generation passed the baton. Who dares wins.

From the Foreword by General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith KCB CBE ADC Gen

Anders Lassen VC was the legendary WWII special forces commander almost without compare. His men would follow him to hell and back and this timely and exhaustively researched book does his story full justice. It is a gem, no less.

Damien Lewis, best selling author of Churchill's Secret Warriors: The Explosive True Story of the Special Forces Desperadoes of WWII

Review by Robert Bartlett

This is an excellent book. The depth of research is a tribute to the author as is his drive to ensure what he has written is balanced and fair not just to Lassen but his comrades. There are numerous pages of reference and notes, a bibliography and a detailed index all supporting the detailed and humbling story of this young man.

Oxford and Cambridge Club Military History Group

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BBC Radio Jersey with presenter Tony Gillham, 7/3/21

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BBC Radio Guernsey with presenter Claire Cathcart, 10/3/21

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Congedati Folgore Quotidiano

Thomas Harder's compendium of Anders Lassen's war skilfully blends the operational and recreational excesses of a man born for the role, alongside the multitudinous diverse and dangerous operations of the SBS during that time. (Readers should also look at SBS Silent Warriors - Saul David and Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare - Giles Milton).
Following the story of countless missions, countless risks, outstanding leadership in adversity and counterintuitive duties in civil governance later in the war as areas were liberated potentially into the hands of warring tribal factions, it is easy to forget that Lassen was only 24 when he was killed. His unorthodoxy and contempt for military bureaucracy, combined with his intuitive tactical and battlefield genius meant he was only (and sometimes only just) suited to a career in special forces and a large measure of SBS success on operations he was involved in can be attributed to him.
The book also highlights the blind mindset of officers and officials working at the policy level. Many, even late in the war did not appreciate the inestimable strategic value of special forces and gleefully disbanded them as soon as they could. And Lassen's VC was almost vetoed because he was not a member of Commonwealth forces, even though he was fighting with the allies. In fact, one is tempted to say that he was under-rewarded. For all the work he did as an acting Major in strategic military and civil administration he should have been awarded a DSO. Three MC's is unprecedented, but the range and scope of his gallantry suggest there should have been more. And, maybe controversially, one is tempted to ask whether he would have got the VC had he not been killed in that extraordinary final action.
These questions, and more, are for the reader of this incredibly well researched and structured book that will appeal to anyone interested in military history and in particular the genuine heroics of our nascent special forces.

Julian Patmore

About Thomas Harder

Thomas Harder is a Danish historian and literary translator. He is the author of twenty books on Italian subjects and four biographies.
He has translated works by numerous authors notably Salman Rushdie, Umberto Eco and most recently, Giovanni Boccaccio’s medieval classic Decameron. He also works as a freelance conference interpreter.
Thomas has received a number of Danish, Swedish and Italian awards for his historical research and writing and for his translations. He lives in Copenhagen with his wife. 

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