Osprey's The SBS in WW2


Gavin Mortimer


Osprey Publishing


$15.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 256 pages, softcover, photos
ISBN: 978-1-4728-1113-4

Before reading this book, I had never heard of the SBS. Well, think of it as a combination of the Long Range Desert Group and the SAS on the water. These men were a very tight knit group of volunteers that was formed in 1943 to perform clandestine operations in the eastern Mediterranean, Aegean and Adriatic as well as in the Levant, Greece, Balkans and Italy.

Never having more than 200 men in service, the unit was quite close-knit and often worked behind enemy lines. The types of missions were always carried out by small groups and involved reconnaissance as well as standard commando work in terms of destroying bridges, supply dumps and the like.

The work these men performed was extremely hazardous and often meant working with members of the resistance in areas where they operated. Later in the war, the unit also had to perform tasks for which they were not trained and that was when the Germans left Greece and they had to help prevent a take-over of the country by communist led forces. They were also not welcome in Yugoslavia by Tito's partisans who did not want any British involvement in their country, even though they were fighting the same enemy. At the very end of the war, they were used as standard troops in northern Italy, again, a task for which they were not trained.

The author has done a superlative job of telling the story of these men and is able to project the personalities of those involved in the various missions, making this more than a simple history. We get to see how they interacted with each other, something that often does not get portrayed in your standard historical prose. It does read like a novel where one is swept along with the prose from event to event.

It is a super read and one that I am sure you will find just as fascinating as did I. Highly recommended.

July 2020

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