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Special Operations in South-East Asia 1942-1945 (Hardback)

Minerva, Baldhead and Longshanks/Creek

Military > SAS & Special Forces WWII

By David Miller
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 220
Illustrations: 30
ISBN: 9781783400638
Published: 9th November 2015



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Many books have been written about Second World War special forces operations in Europe and the Middle East. Much less has been said about such operations in South-East Asia – those launched against the Japanese in Sumatra and the Andaman Islands, and the Germans in Goa. These operations, and the exceptional men who took part in them, have been almost forgotten. David Miller, in this gripping account, sets the record straight. His book is based on extensive original research, including long-hidden family documents, revealing much information for the first time and his narrative is fascinating reading for anyone who is interested in special operations and the war against the Axis powers in South-East Asia. His history is the first general account of these operations - it is a landmark in the field.

This book is exceptionally interesting to read, and it is a tribute to these brave men. Their stories need to be told and it is a shame that it has taken all these years for their activities to be kept quiet. The film of the Goa operation has created a myth which when reading the factual evidence is hard to support in many aspects. At least this author’s work is now a mark of respect to these men - several of which died on active service.

Dr Stuart C Blank, Military Archive Research

When one hears "special operations during WWII" few will think of other continents than Europe and Africa. But special ops were of course also one method of fighting in Asia. David Miller´s book focuses on three special operations in Asia and especially one of them will surprise just about everyone - as the target was not Japanese but German. There is a Swedish connection, too.

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Lars Gyllenhaal

Stories of special operations in the Far East during World War ll have been largely ignored by writers of military history, in favour of well documented stories of the war in Europe. David Miller has made an attempt to fill this gap with Special Operations South East-East Asia 1942-45. During WW ll soldiers fighting in the jungles of Burma were known as The Forgotten Army, and equally today, little is known about special operation in that theatre. His well researched book Special Operations South-East Asia 1942-45, published by Pen and Sword, is based on archive and original family records of those who took part.

In 1942 the Japanese army routed the British military from its territories in Asia. Early attempts by Special Operations Executive's Oriental Mission to leave men behind to create an underground army, lasted a little more than six months as the men were captured, beheaded or died of jungle fever. In the early days, they lacked equipment and suitable wireless sets. David Miller describes 1000 mile journeys by submarine to land men in the Andamans Islands, in Sumatra and a Boys Own adventure to sail a dredger crewed by a group of middle-aged Territorials hundreds of miles from Calcutta to neutral Goa sink German and Italians vessels sheltering there.

A page turning introduction to secret missions behind Japanese lines.

Richard Gough, Military Author and Historian

The British war effort East of Suez during WWII has received more attention from script writers than historians, making this fine volume all the more welcome. The real-life story of the attack by aging businessmen on a German ship interned in Goa is every bit as exciting as the film, but differs in parts, as do the other operations covered by the author – Highly Recommended.

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Miller's style brings out the context and the courage involved. Each mission selected tells a story of bravery and resilience and is, individually, a great read; brought together into one volume, they make a superb collection. Miller brings each story to life as best he can with the sometimes limited resources available (some of the records are simply missing, others are still sealed and some things are simply unknown). His style is fluid and engaging and makes sometimes complex subjects simple and easy to follow.

I recommend this to anyone with an interest in this area of the war, be it the operational context or the region. For those looking for some of the lesser-known episodes of the war, this is a great book and well worth a read.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

"An excellent book full of newly uncovered detail that adds to the corpus of knowledge about irregular warfare that laid the ground for those specialist soldiers of today who operate in the secret but dangerous work of raiding and intelligence gathering."

Reviewed by

Rob Barlett

All three sections of the book are well researched, and provide a detailed and convincing picture of each of these operations (or at least as much as possible in the case of Operation Minerva). This is a useful addition to the literature on Special Forces Operations of the Second World War, and on the war in South-East Asia.

Read the full review here.

History of War

Although much has been written over the years about the special forces of the Second World War in Europe and the Middle East, little is known of their operations in south-east Asia - those launched against the Japanese in Sumatra and the Andaman Islands, and the Germans in Goa. This first-rate work describes each operation in vivid detail and recognises the courage, endurance and leadership of those involved in fighting Axis powers.

The Great War, July 2016 - Mark Marsay

As the first published factual account of these operations this book grips the reader from page one and will stand in tribute to the courage, endurance and leadership of those involved.

The Bulletin of the Military Historical Society No.264

An excellent book full of newly uncovered detail that adds to the corpus of knowledge about irregular warfare that laid the ground for those specialist soldiers of today who operate in the secret but dangerous work of raiding and intelligence gathering.

Military History Group - Robert Bartlett
 David Miller

About David Miller

David Miller has had seventy books published on subjects ranging from Richard the Lionheart, through the samurai, to U-boats and the Battle of Waterloo. His great love is the sea – his father was a naval officer – and this book is the outcome of many years’ study of Captain Langsdorff, one of the most admired officers of the German Second World War Kriegsmarine.

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