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The british commandos took samples from the beaches of Normandy before the D-Day

By kayak to war

Foto: National Army Museum

Everyone knows the existence of the SAS or Special Air Force, the British special forces, founded in 1941, in the middle of World War II, as an elite force to infiltrate the German lines. In fact they were born in the desert to face Erwin Rommel, known as the Desert Fox, and his troops.

What fewer people know is that there were several branches of special forces, and one of these was the Special Boat Service (SBS). Historian Saul David has published the history: “SBS–Silent Warriors: The Authorized Wartime History”. There is no translation into Spanish yet.

James Holland, another great British historian -with classics on the Battle of Britain, the Wehrmacht or the landing in Sicily- has already said that it is “one of the best stories I have read in many years”.

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Saul David (born 1966) is an award-winning British historian who already has other specialized works on the Battle of Okinawa (Crucible of Hell) and the Entebbe operation (Operation Thunderbolt), among others. David is Professor of Military History at the University of Buckingham.

The SBS was the first command specialising in maritime operations. Created in 1940, it started with a small group and its first mission was the reconnaissance of the island of Rhodes during the spring of 1941.

Then, as Aspects of History magazine explains in one of its latest issues, in a review written by also the historien Rupert Hague-Holmes, other missions fell to the SBS “in the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the Channel or the Far East”.

One of these was Operation Frankton, the attempt to sink ships in the port of Bordeaux after kayaking up the Gironde. Only two of the ten men who were landed by the submarine survived: six shot by the Germans and two died of hypothermia.

But, without a doubt, one of the most curious missions was for Operation Overlord (D-Day) when they were landed at Gold Beach, one of the beaches chosen for the landing, fifteen days before the operation. Technically they were thus the first allied troops to set foot in Normandy.

The objective, was to take samples to confirm whether, explains the magazine, "the sand was firm enough to allow the landing of Allied vehicles."

The British Admiral Bertram Ramsay, head of the naval forces during D-Day, explained that “the final success of Operation Overloard depended to a great extent on this mission”./ A report by Xavier Rius.

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6 Comentaris

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#5 Tabarnés puro, Barcino, 26/01/2022 - 19:19

Churchill y la Gran Bretaña, entes sobrevalorados totalmente. Mandan a 10 tipos a Burdeos y solo sobreviven dos. Si hubiese sido otro país dirían que son un auténtico desastre pero son hijos de la Gran..
La Historia de España tiene golpes de mano, heroicidades y victorias en inferioridad de condiciones que darían para mantener 3 Hollywoods.

#4 Marc de Vich, Vich, 26/01/2022 - 16:29

Churchill was an egocentric and out of date character, who was lucky for England, who found himself in the exact place and time for it to be something, outside of that moment it would have been a total disaster, like many things in his life

#4.1 Tabarnés puro, Barcino, 26/01/2022 - 19:15

Totally agree.

#3 Pan con tomate y jamón ibérico, II*II The world looks at us, 26/01/2022 - 14:29

Now let's imagine two "Spanish green berets..." crossing the Strait of Gibraltar by kayak to intervene in Perejil...

The difference is that in Spain the photo above would be the general debauchery, but in Perfidious Albion they take these things seriously... even when they're drunk.

#2 Onofre de Dip, Barcelona, 26/01/2022 - 11:51

Las operaciones especiales tan caras a Churchill eran, en cierta manera, un fiel reflejo de su personalidad romántica y aventurera. Sin dejar de reconocer el mérito de algunas de estas iniciativas, hay que decir que en no pocas ocasiones dieron pobres resultados y privaron de efectivos muy cualificados a otras unidades militares.

#1 Excellent article!, Barcelona, 26/01/2022 - 10:36

Congratulations Mr. Rius.
Very good & entertaining article. Worth reading.

Allow me, please, to point out that, needless to say due to a well calibrated analysis, you successfully started writing editorials in spanish and articles in french and english, opening up to the world.

Realism, pragmatism. Catalan language is very limited & local.