The SBS in World War II - An Illustrated History, Gavin Mortimer

The SBS in World War II - An Illustrated History, Gavin Mortimer

The main focus of this book is on the period after the formation of the SBS as an independent unit in mid-March 1943. It's earlier history, first as a small independent unit and then as part of the SAS, is the subject of chapter one, where the earlier incarnations exploits in North Africa get a brief mention. From March 1943 until the end of the war the level of detail is very impressive, with 17 chapters covering just over two years. The small size of the unit means that most (if not all) of its operations are dealt with, many in some length.

I must admit I was surprised by several features of the SBS's wartime career, including its small size, limited area of operations (effectively just the Adriatic and the waters around Greece and Turkey) and by the disastrous nature of several early SBS raids, with several ending with the destruction of the force involved. The SBS never contained more than 100 men, making it a tenth of the size of the SAS.

Reading this book one soon becomes aware just how risky most SBS missions actually were. In most cases things went well, the small raiding force attacked and was gone before the Germans could respond in strength, but on several occasions an SBS force was simple overwhelmed, and the small size of each raiding party could leave them vulnerable.

This is a fascinating history of one of the most daring of the many small special forces units that proliferated in the Mediterranean during the Second World War, illustrating both the risks and the advantages to be gained from deploying such high quality units.

1 - Birth of the Boat Service
2 - From Service to Squadron
3 - Sick in Sardinia
4 - A Close Call in Crete
5 - Armistice and Uncertainty
6 - The Germans Fight Back
7 - Defeat in the Dodecanese
8 - New Recruits for a New Year
9 - Piracy on the High Seas
10 - Turkish Deceit for the SBS
11 - Caught, Questioned, Vanished
12 - Vengeance
13 - Germany on the Run
14 - Into the Balkans
15 - The Nazis' Greek Tragedy
16 - Adriatic Offensive
17 - Andy Lassen's Big War
18 - The End of the Odyssey

Author: Gavin Mortimer
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 256
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2013

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