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Robert Lyman’s Operation Suicide
The cockleshell raid on Bordeaux is one of the finest and Robert Lyman’s Operation Suicide (Quercus, £18.99) gives us the blood, guts and glory of an event that at the time Churchill predicted would shorten the war by six months.
This was an amazing endeavour against all the odds as 12 commandos trained in frozen waters to deliver limpet mines to freighters in the French harbour, with the prospect of navigating 60 miles up the Gironde estuary even before attaching the mines to the vessels.
Two of the canoes were ripped apart as they prepared to launch from a submarine; two other crew members drowned and six were captured and executed, leaving just Major “Blondie” Hasler and Marine Bill Sparks to reach their destination.
The result was a morale boost for the British in the darkest days of the war.