Ian Fleming's Commandos: The Story of 30 Assault Unit in WWII, Nicholas Rankin

Ian Fleming's Commandos: The Story of 30 Assault Unit in WWII, Nicholas Rankin

30 Assault Unit was a specialised commando unit, formed to capture enemy technology during larger Allied offensives. Ian Fleming, then a senior officer in Naval Intelligence, was largely responsible for forming the unit, and supported it throughout the war.

This is the second book on this topic published recently (following The History of 30 Assault Unit: Ian Fleming's Red Indian by Craig Cabell, published 2009). The two books are rather different in tone. Rankin's book is twice the length of Cabell's, but Cabell covers some topics that are missing here, in particular the unit's involvement in the campaign against the V Weapons. On the other hand Rankin provides more of a context to the activities of the unit, including the wider activities of Naval Intelligence and the importance of technology in the war.

The author makes fairly frequent connections between Fleming's wartime experiences and the Bond novels, some more convincing than others. Some incidents and names in Bond are too close to reality for their not to have been a connection, and in some cases, such as the Italian style mini-submersibles featured in Thunderball, the debt was made clear in the novels.

Of the two books, this one provides much more background detail, but focuses on events that are well documented, while Cabell includes some speculative material, backed up by his own research. This is the more accessible of the two, and I would say that they complement each other nicely.

1 - Day Trip to Dieppe, 1942
2 - The Godfather
3 - Technology at War
4 - The Philosophy of the Pinch
5 - Doing Deals
6 - The Commandos Get Cracking
7 - Mapping the Future
8 - Mayhem in the Maghreb
9 - Testing the Waters
10 - Invasion of the Islands
11 - Freeing the French
12 - Breakthrough
13 - Operation Plunder
14 - Getting the Goods
15 - Aftermath

Author: Nicholas Rankin
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 397
Publisher: faber and faber
Year: 2011

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