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The SAS in Occupied France (Hardback)

1 SAS Operations, June to October 1944

WWII Photographic Books SAS & Elite Forces Military

By Gavin Mortimer
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 216
Illustrations: 120 b/w & colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781526769626
Published: 9th November 2020

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In the world of military history there is no brand as potent as that of the SAS. They burst into global prominence in 1980 with their spectacular storming of the Iranian Embassy, and there have been hundreds of books, films, documentaries and even reality TV shows about them. But what there hasn't been is a guide to the scenes of some of their most famous Second World War operations. That is why Gavin Mortimer’s vivid two-volume account of their daring missions in German-occupied France in 1944 is such compelling reading.

SAS actions in France delayed German reinforcements reaching the battlefront in Normandy, later sewing confusion among the Germans as they withdrew. The SAS trained the French Maquis and helped to turn them from an indisciplined rabble into an effective fighting force. Their exploits inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans, and they left a trail of destruction and disorder in their wake.

This first volume focuses on 1 SAS and describes in graphic detail operations Titanic, Houndsworth, Bulbasket, Gain, Haggard and Kipling, all of which were carried out in northern and central France. Using previously unpublished interviews with SAS veterans and members of the Maquis as well as rare photographs, Gavin Mortimer blends the past and present, so that readers can walk in the footsteps of SAS heroes and see where they lived, fought and died.

If you are the type of person who likes battlefield tours then this book is a real goldmine of specific information, in fact, its format should be used more in my opinion. It uses Google maps to give you exact locations by typing in decimal degrees. A very interesting and well put together book, a must for any battlefield tourist interested in the SAS.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

I was one of the millions of people who sat, enthralled as the SAS stormed the Iranian Embassy in 1980 and brough about an abrupt end to the siege. I had little knowledge of the SAS before that, despite reading war stories in comic strip form from the early 1950s. Gavin Mortimer's book traces their history back further and examines the role they played in key operations during WWII. Fascinating!

Books Monthly

I loved this book and its tour guide approach but also from a narrative point of view.

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On The Old Barbed Wire

The tours are nicely described, accompanied by photos not only rare archive ones, but also with modern colour images showing what is there to be seen to this day. Just remember to read the guide notes about being in some of the forested areas if you are there in the 'Hunting' season. It made me keen to see the back of the current Covid restrictions on travel, and look forward to the day when we can get back out to France and start exploring again.

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Military Model Scene, Robin Buckland

About Gavin Mortimer

Gavin Mortimer is a writer, historian and television consultant whose ground-breaking book Stirling's Men remains the definitive history of the wartime SAS. Drawing on interviews with more than sixty veterans, most of whom had never spoken publicly, the book was the first comprehensive account of the SAS brigade. He has also written histories of the SBS, Merrill's Marauders and LRDG, again drawing heavily on veteran interviews. Gavin was the historical consultant on the 2017 BBC documentary about the wartime SAS and he has guided several serving members of the SAS around the sites in France where their predecessors operated in the summer of 1944.

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