Peter Wand-Tetley served in a wide range of British Special Forces units during the Second World War, starting with the Army Commandos, then the SAS in North Africa and ending with SOE in Greece. He went on to take part in the post-war re-occupation of the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia), a unusual period that saw his unit allied with re-armed Japanese troops to restore order. In the post-war world he worked in the Colonial Service, first in Nigeria, then in Kenya and East Africa, so we also see the end of Empire.
The approach take here is interesting - there isn't really enough material to write a straight biography of Wand-Tetley, and so instead the details of his career are woven into histories of the various organisations and agencies he worked for and the theatres of war he served in. This is especially valuable for his period in Greece (also the best documented period of his career), where a violent civil war (largely triggered by the Greek Communists who were more interested in preparing for the post-war world than in actually fighting the Germans) made his job almost impossible. This is an interesting approach to biography, and I find it rather successful, giving a picture both of Wand-Tetley and the world he operated in.
Many accounts of the Special Forces discuss the seemingly endless changes of structure, name and role of the various services, but this account is rare in that it gives us some idea of how disruptive all of this was for the individual soldiers. You could return from a successful mission only to find that your unit was about to be wound up, merged, renamed or in some other way disrupted, and Wand-Tetley had to change service twice to ensure that he remained within the Special Forces world. We also get a reminder of how expensive many of the Commando and SAS raids were, with entire squadrons captured or destroyed on a regular basis.
Prologue: Behind Enemy Lines
1 - A Martial Upbringing
2 - Army Commando
3 - SAS Officer
4 - SOE Agent
5 - Paratrooper
6 - Colonial Service
Author: Michael Scott
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military