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With the SAS: Across the Rhine (Hardback)

Into the Heart of Hitler's Third Reich

WWII Frontline Books Hitler & the Third Reich Frontline: WWII SAS & Elite Forces

By Ian Wellsted
Frontline Books
Pages: 248
Illustrations: 16
ISBN: 9781526745699
Published: 18th May 2020

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With the SAS: Across the Rhine is the story of the latter part of Captain Ian Wellsted’s military career with the Special Air Service, the first part of which was detailed in his well-received SAS: With the Maquis. This is a very personal account, revealing the many emotional as well as physical strains placed upon men in the fighting line.

The author takes us back to his time employed with the 79th Armoured Division (the famous ‘Hobart’s Funnies’) preparing for D-Day and his desire for more exciting action, which led first to the Parachute Regiment and then the SAS. Whilst we learn a little of his time with the maquis, the main focus of the story is his part in Operation Archway. A British special forces mission which involved the 1st and 2nd Special Air Service Regiments acting in support of the advance of Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery's Allied 21st Army Group in operations Varsity and Plunder, this crossing of the Rhine was one of the largest and most diverse operations ever carried out by the SAS.

In this offensive, the SAS teams were thrust deep into German territory, often having to battle their way through the enemy lines to get back to safety. ‘I quickly learned that there was no way to control an SAS battle,’ Wellsted wrote of his first major encounter in charge of a patrol. ‘The din was deafening – seventy odd Vickers and half a dozen Brownings all chattering together. The screech of ricochets and the fire of the enemy made my voice sound like the squeak of a mouse against a church organ. I was helpless.’

In one of these encounters, as the war was drawing to a close, Wellsted’s troop found itself surrounded. In the ensuing firefight, Wellsted was wounded, bringing his active front line career to an end.

... the reader is presented a human commander making due to the best of his abilities. Ultimately, the book is a reminder that war is a human business and special operations forces are comprised of men and women with the same burdens, strains, and fears as others.

Special Operations Journal

The SAS preserved their anonymity for decades but, after some memoirs were published, they have begun to attract the attention of historians. The SAS performed well beyond their actual strength during the final advance into Germany and on to victory. – Very Highly Recommended

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Firetrench

Wellsted comes across as a gritty no-nonsense type of guy, the type that the SAS are famous for having. This book is quite revealing about how the SAS used to go about their business and is definitely one for the SAS enthusiast. Some of the info about weapons and tactics will go down and how their influence on other units like the French and Belgium was strong. Overall this was a good book, certainly one for the enthusiast for sure and I would certainly recommend it to those people. A good read and one for those that like their gritty everyday soldier books.

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UK Historian

With the SAS Across the Rhine (155 pages) ends with a very modern take on what the WWII SAS was all about and lessons to be learnt from them. This part has been written by one of New Zealand´s greatest SAS history buffs, Terence Gardiner, a retired air commodore, and is in itself worth your time.

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Lars Gyllenhaal

Wellsted’s memoir reveals a hard-fighting man doing his duty, sometimes more, and it is a sobering and thought-provoking read.

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Beating Tsundoku

I must stress that this is a very good book about the SAS in the latter part of WW2. It contains a wealth of information of great importance to historians, scholars and the casual reader alike but, I had endeavoured not to include this in my simple overview. However, to give a couple of spoilers, and to whet the appetite of potential readers, within the book are details of the French and Belgian SAS, descriptions of weaponry and tactics, and men involved such as Reg Seekings, Paddy Mayne and other 'characters'.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

About Ian Wellsted

Having served with 'A' Squadron 1 SAS during 1944 and 1945, and being wounded in April 1945, after the Second World War Colonel Ian Wellsted OBE remained with the British Army for a further twenty-two years. He served in Palestine, Egypt, Europe and the Far East. He died in 2002 aged 83.

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