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Storming Hitler's British Fortress (Hardback)

The Commando Raids on the Channel Islands in World War II

Military > Frontline Books > Frontline: WWII Military > SAS & Special Forces WWII > Hitler & the Third Reich

By John Grehan, Simon Hamon
Frontline Books
Pages: 240
ISBN: 9781473893771
Published: 2nd June 2023

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In 1940 British forces were withdrawn from the Channel Islands, allowing the Germans to occupy British territory. Hitler was determined to hold onto what he saw as a valuable prize, and the islands were heavily fortified.

However, despite being extensively defended, the occupied Channel Islands remained vulnerable to commando-style raids. Indeed, a total of nine such operations were conducted between 1940 and 1943. Many others were planned but never executed.

Each one was a bold and dangerous expedition, with small groups of men daring to trespass on Hitler’s cherished British stronghold. The first of these attacks, Operation Ambassador, took place on the night of 14/15 July 1940. The second ever raid undertaken by the Commandos, it was focused on the island of Guernsey. Though the mission failed to achieve any of its objectives, valuable lessons were learnt.

In the weeks, months and years that followed, raids were also undertaken against Jersey, Sark, Herm, Burhou and the Casquets lighthouse off Alderney. The final attack, Hardtack 22, was one of the three carried out against the German garrison on Sark. After the second mission, Hardtack 7, had to be aborted, the Commandos returned to the island on the night of 26/27 December 1943, tasked with undertaking a reconnaissance and capturing prisoners. This too was a failure after the raiders entered a minefield; two men were killed and most of the others wounded.

Compiled from official reports and first-hand accounts, each of the raids is packed with intrigue and drama – including the fear of reprisals being taken against the islanders. Each of the missions are explored on the ground today by the authors, with the routes taken and all key locations relating to each attack photographed and described. The planned but never executed raids are also explored. Never before have these stories been told in such detail, and never before in the words of those that took part in the raids and those who ultimately, were most affected.

"The authors have compiled official reports and first hand accounts to provide details of each planned mission."

Wargames Illustrated – Issue 423, March 2023

As featured in

The Bookseller, Jan 23

As featured in

The Bookseller, Jan 23

About John Grehan

JOHN GREHAN has written, edited or contributed to more than 300 books and magazine articles covering a wide span of military history from the Iron Age to the recent conflict in Afghanistan. John has also appeared on local and national radio and television to advise on military history topics. He was employed as the Assistant Editor of Britain at War Magazine from its inception until 2014. John now devotes his time to writing and editing books.


 Simon Hamon
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