Publication Date: 17/03/2022 ISBN: 9780241508572 Category:

The Greatest Raid

Giles Whittell

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication Date: 17/03/2022 ISBN: 9780241508572 Category:




FROM THE AUTHOR OF BRIDGE OF SPIES: A dramatic and colourful new account of the most daring British commando raid of World War Two

In the darkest months of the Second World War, Churchill approved what seemed to many like a suicide mission. Under orders to attack the St Nazaire U-boat base on the Atlantic seaboard, British commandos undertook “the greatest raid of all”, turning an old destroyer into a live bomb and using it to ram the gates of a Nazi stronghold. Five Victoria Crosses were awarded — more than in any similar operation.

Drawing on official documents, interviews, unknown accounts and the astonished reactions of French civilians and German forces, The Greatest Raid recreates in cinematic detail the hours in which the “Charioteers” fought and died, from Lt Gerard Brett, the curator at the V & A, to “Bertie” Burtinshaw, who went into battle humming There’ll Always be an England, and from Lt Stuart Chant, who set the fuses with 90 seconds to escape, to the epic solo reconnaissance of the legendary Times journalist Capt Micky Burn.

Unearthing the untold human stories of Operation Chariot, Bridge of Spies author Giles Whittell reveals it to be a fundamentally misconceived raid whose impact and legacy was secured by astonishing bravery.

Publisher Review

A compelling page-turner, the work of a master storyteller. The drama of the March 1942 operation is cinematic in its sweep and detail -- and Whittell's detective work on the real reasons for the raid is extraordinary. It is also beautifully written -- Matthew d'Ancona A spellbinding account of one of the most astonishing episodes of the whole war. Thrilling and tragic in equal measure, it is a story of self-sacrifice, comradeship and courage on an unimaginable scale -- Julia Boyd, author of Travellers in the Third Reich Churchill called St Nazaire "a deed of glory intimately involved in high strategy." This vivid and moving book shows why -- David Reynolds, author of Island Stories: An Unconventional History of Britain Giles Whittell's crisp, tight, prose is perfectly suited to record one of World War 2's great moments of heroism: his journalistic skills tease apart the flaws in the plan, while expertly bringing back to life the rich cast of protagonists -- Charles Spencer, author of The White Ship World War Two's Operation Chariot against Nazi Germany's battleship repair facility is the greatest commando raid of all time. So bravo to Giles Whittell for this meticulously researched and utterly gripping account of the heroism at St Nazaire. The Greatest Raid does great justice to its subjects -- Dr Amanda Foreman

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