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Devils Guard by George Elford

Auld-Yin

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Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
Sent in by @sirbhp I feel this is the best place for it and any discussion it may generate. Not the first time round for this book but worth a read. Auld Yin

Condemned to death for the bloodbaths of World War II, they served their sentence—on the killing fields of Vietnam. The fascinating, true story of the French Foreign Legion’s Nazi battalion

WHAT THEY DID IN WORLD WAS II WAS HISTORY’S BLOODIEST NIGHTMARE.

The ashes of World War II were still cooling when France went to war in the jungles of Southeast Asia. In that struggle, its front line troops were the misfits, criminals, and mercenaries of the French Foreign Legion and among that international army of the desperate and the damned, none were so bloodstained as the fugitive veterans of the German S.S.

WHAT THEY DID IN VIETNAM WAS ITS UGLIEST SECRET—UNTIL NOW.

Loathed by the French, feared and hated by the Vietnamese, the Germans fought not for patriotism of glory but because fighting for France was better than hanging from its gallows. Here now is the untold story of the killer elite whose discipline, ferocity, and suicidal courage made them the weapon of last resort .

For those of you who haven't yet read this book it was first published in 1971 when I was a young SAPPER aged 18 in Osanatraz. You might ask why am I reviewing now after all this time? Well the reason is quite simple; When I first read this book it left a great impression in my mind and since it has been reprinted 13 times at least it should be well known by squaddies all over the world. I picked up from somewhere that it was in the top ten books taken by US servicemen and women to GULF 2 and in fact it was the only warry book in that top ten . This sparked off some nostalgic memories and I wondered if it was as good now as I thought it was way back when. I'd also be very interested to know if its still being read by today's Army especially by the troops who served in AFGAN.

Well I am pleased to report that it was just as gripping now as in 1971, although I see it now about the U.S. involvement in Viet Nam rather than the French, a bit like MASH being based in the Korean War but in reality being written about the Viet Nam war. It is marketed as a true story as dictated to the Author by a German SS officer who served in the FFL and thence to the security services of Turkey .

The story is basically a war romp and I rather suspect it appeals to Soldiers because of the unfettered way that the heroes go about their business, for example loading the outside of their transports with the relatives of the Viet Cong from the area in which they were travelling, the attacking of bases over the boundary of China and forcing the Viets to move their stores and troop further than a few days march from the action zone. My favourite part was the dropping off of silenced snipers before the troops passed an enemy village and when the Civipop turned into Insurgents they were picked off one by one by the snipers. This at the time seemed to be a fantastic tactic, today I think it must have been adopted my most troops in a similar position. Do units have six or ten snipers to spare ? I don't know. Being Germans the troops are tough loyal and able to put up with all sorts of crap from upon high, I guess that feeling never gets old in any man's army and the reader will feel a lot of empathy for these men. Just imagine what we could have done if the gloves were off in Northern Ireland for example; I recall many a debate in the Squadron Bar on this very topic .

This story was promoted as factual and yes after the war a lot of Germans did join the French Foreign Legion so much so that German became the lingua franca (see what I did there ) in truth though it is a work of very good fiction that makes its readers wish that it was true which is a good sign of a great book. There is a lot of covering up for the excesses of the actual SS by situating the Germans fight against Russian Partisans , which during the cold war and to a 18 year old seemed quite valid however that is something that changed with age and more worldly knowledge. The anti communist rhetoric is about right for the British Army , obviously I cant speak for others, to the extent that you can still see these tropes posted on Facebook every day by veterans aimed at today's Labour Party. So all in all this ripping yarn still has full appeal and validity some 50 years later. As far as Soldiers still serving I guess it is still as valid as the first time it was published, we still think of the Legion as some sort of superhuman army (forgetting the bedding storemen, clerks and cooks of course) we still like to to think that that we would massacre insurgents but release the one who who we promised to after we gave our word and yes most of us would rather poison the village water supply rather than have to battle with the adoo . So I believe this book was well worth the £3.50 that it cost me on Amazon its as good a read today as it ever was . remembering that in a work of fiction anything goes . I must have a look at Edge and Sven Hassel again or even JT Edison for that matter . Four and a half mushroom heads .

devils guard.jpg
 
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Sent in by @sirbhp I feel this is the best place for it and any discussion it may generate. Not the first time round for this book but worth a read. Auld Yin

Condemned to death for the bloodbaths of World War II, they served their sentence—on the killing fields of Vietnam. The fascinating, true story of the French Foreign Legion’s Nazi battalion

WHAT THEY DID IN WORLD WAS II WAS HISTORY’S BLOODIEST NIGHTMARE.

The ashes of World War II were still cooling when France went to war in the jungles of Southeast Asia. In that struggle, its front line troops were the misfits, criminals, and mercenaries of the French Foreign Legion and among that international army of the desperate and the damned, none were so bloodstained as the fugitive veterans of the German S.S.

WHAT THEY DID IN VIETNAM WAS ITS UGLIEST SECRET—UNTIL NOW.

Loathed by the French, feared and hated by the Vietnamese, the Germans fought not for patriotism of glory but because fighting for France was better than hanging from its gallows. Here now is the untold story of the killer elite whose discipline, ferocity, and suicidal courage made them the weapon of last resort .

For those of you who haven't yet read this book it was first published in 1971 when I was a young SAPPER aged 18 in Osanatraz. You might ask why am I reviewing now after all this time? Well the reason is quite simple; When I first read this book it left a great impression in my mind and since it has been reprinted 13 times at least it should be well known by squaddies all over the world. I picked up from somewhere that it was in the top ten books taken by US servicemen and women to GULF 2 and in fact it was the only warry book in that top ten . This sparked off some nostalgic memories and I wondered if it was as good now as I thought it was way back when. I'd also be very interested to know if its still being read by today's Army especially by the troops who served in AFGAN.

Well I am pleased to report that it was just as gripping now as in 1971, although I see it now about the U.S. involvement in Viet Nam rather than the French, a bit like MASH being based in the Korean War but in reality being written about the Viet Nam war. It is marketed as a true story as dictated to the Author by a German SS officer who served in the FFL and thence to the security services of Turkey .

The story is basically a war romp and I rather suspect it appeals to Soldiers because of the unfettered way that the heroes go about their business, for example loading the outside of their transports with the relatives of the Viet Cong from the area in which they were travelling, the attacking of bases over the boundary of China and forcing the Viets to move their stores and troop further than a few days march from the action zone. My favourite part was the dropping off of silenced snipers before the troops passed an enemy village and when the Civipop turned into Insurgents they were picked off one by one by the snipers. This at the time seemed to be a fantastic tactic, today I think it must have been adopted my most troops in a similar position. Do units have six or ten snipers to spare ? I don't know. Being Germans the troops are tough loyal and able to put up with all sorts of crap from upon high, I guess that feeling never gets old in any man's army and the reader will feel a lot of empathy for these men. Just imagine what we could have done if the gloves were off in Northern Ireland for example; I recall many a debate in the Squadron Bar on this very topic .

This story was promoted as factual and yes after the war a lot of Germans did join the French Foreign Legion so much so that German became the lingua franca (see what I did there ) in truth though it is a work of very good fiction that makes its readers wish that it was true which is a good sign of a great book. There is a lot of covering up for the excesses of the actual SS by situating the Germans fight against Russian Partisans , which during the cold war and to a 18 year old seemed quite valid however that is something that changed with age and more worldly knowledge. The anti communist rhetoric is about right for the British Army , obviously I cant speak for others, to the extent that you can still see these tropes posted on Facebook every day by veterans aimed at today's Labour Party. So all in all this ripping yarn still has full appeal and validity some 50 years later. As far as Soldiers still serving I guess it is still as valid as the first time it was published, we still think of the Legion as some sort of superhuman army (forgetting the bedding storemen, clerks and cooks of course) we still like to to think that that we would massacre insurgents but release the one who who we promised to after we gave our word and yes most of us would rather poison the village water supply rather than have to battle with the adoo . So I believe this book was well worth the £3.50 that it cost me on Amazon its as good a read today as it ever was . remembering that in a work of fiction anything goes . I must have a look at Edge and Sven Hassel again or even JT Edison for that matter . Four and a half mushroom heads .

View attachment 404884

They all bring back youthful memories - Devil's Guard was a "must read" when I was also in Osnabruck in the early 80's. One of my corporals later described it (somewhat disturbingly , with hindsight) as "the bible". There has long been speculation as to whether the character was real, or based on someone real. Another popular book at the time was "The Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer, this time about a Frenchman in the German Army (and also the subject of much historical debate over what was fact and what was fiction).

I also read Edge and Sven Hassel when at school, dog-eared copies of which were permanently in circulation. I remember the Edge books in particular for their gratuitously detailed descriptions of violence and for the often inappropriately amusing puns, usually by Edge himself, that accompanied them. Gilman also made frequent use of anachronism; perhaps the archetype of the series is "Rhapsody in Red", which combined all these themes to (very) darkly comic effect.
 
It is a work of fiction but a good read never the less. There were a lot of Germans serving in the FFL at the time of Dien Bien Phu, but no German battalions or regiments.

The Forgotten Soldier is an ace read. I must have read it a dozen times in the last 30 odd years
 
I read it f
Sent in by @sirbhp I feel this is the best place for it and any discussion it may generate. Not the first time round for this book but worth a read. Auld Yin

Condemned to death for the bloodbaths of World War II, they served their sentence—on the killing fields of Vietnam. The fascinating, true story of the French Foreign Legion’s Nazi battalion

WHAT THEY DID IN WORLD WAS II WAS HISTORY’S BLOODIEST NIGHTMARE.

The ashes of World War II were still cooling when France went to war in the jungles of Southeast Asia. In that struggle, its front line troops were the misfits, criminals, and mercenaries of the French Foreign Legion and among that international army of the desperate and the damned, none were so bloodstained as the fugitive veterans of the German S.S.

WHAT THEY DID IN VIETNAM WAS ITS UGLIEST SECRET—UNTIL NOW.

Loathed by the French, feared and hated by the Vietnamese, the Germans fought not for patriotism of glory but because fighting for France was better than hanging from its gallows. Here now is the untold story of the killer elite whose discipline, ferocity, and suicidal courage made them the weapon of last resort .

For those of you who haven't yet read this book it was first published in 1971 when I was a young SAPPER aged 18 in Osanatraz. You might ask why am I reviewing now after all this time? Well the reason is quite simple; When I first read this book it left a great impression in my mind and since it has been reprinted 13 times at least it should be well known by squaddies all over the world. I picked up from somewhere that it was in the top ten books taken by US servicemen and women to GULF 2 and in fact it was the only warry book in that top ten . This sparked off some nostalgic memories and I wondered if it was as good now as I thought it was way back when. I'd also be very interested to know if its still being read by today's Army especially by the troops who served in AFGAN.

Well I am pleased to report that it was just as gripping now as in 1971, although I see it now about the U.S. involvement in Viet Nam rather than the French, a bit like MASH being based in the Korean War but in reality being written about the Viet Nam war. It is marketed as a true story as dictated to the Author by a German SS officer who served in the FFL and thence to the security services of Turkey .

The story is basically a war romp and I rather suspect it appeals to Soldiers because of the unfettered way that the heroes go about their business, for example loading the outside of their transports with the relatives of the Viet Cong from the area in which they were travelling, the attacking of bases over the boundary of China and forcing the Viets to move their stores and troop further than a few days march from the action zone. My favourite part was the dropping off of silenced snipers before the troops passed an enemy village and when the Civipop turned into Insurgents they were picked off one by one by the snipers. This at the time seemed to be a fantastic tactic, today I think it must have been adopted my most troops in a similar position. Do units have six or ten snipers to spare ? I don't know. Being Germans the troops are tough loyal and able to put up with all sorts of crap from upon high, I guess that feeling never gets old in any man's army and the reader will feel a lot of empathy for these men. Just imagine what we could have done if the gloves were off in Northern Ireland for example; I recall many a debate in the Squadron Bar on this very topic .

This story was promoted as factual and yes after the war a lot of Germans did join the French Foreign Legion so much so that German became the lingua franca (see what I did there ) in truth though it is a work of very good fiction that makes its readers wish that it was true which is a good sign of a great book. There is a lot of covering up for the excesses of the actual SS by situating the Germans fight against Russian Partisans , which during the cold war and to a 18 year old seemed quite valid however that is something that changed with age and more worldly knowledge. The anti communist rhetoric is about right for the British Army , obviously I cant speak for others, to the extent that you can still see these tropes posted on Facebook every day by veterans aimed at today's Labour Party. So all in all this ripping yarn still has full appeal and validity some 50 years later. As far as Soldiers still serving I guess it is still as valid as the first time it was published, we still think of the Legion as some sort of superhuman army (forgetting the bedding storemen, clerks and cooks of course) we still like to to think that that we would massacre insurgents but release the one who who we promised to after we gave our word and yes most of us would rather poison the village water supply rather than have to battle with the adoo . So I believe this book was well worth the £3.50 that it cost me on Amazon its as good a read today as it ever was . remembering that in a work of fiction anything goes . I must have a look at Edge and Sven Hassel again or even JT Edison for that matter . Four and a half mushroom heads .

View attachment 404884
I read it first in the early 80s or thereabouts, and saw someone mention it on here last year. So like the OP bought it for coppers from ebay, and I agree, still a great read, thanks for the review AY
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
I read it f

I read it first in the early 80s or thereabouts, and saw someone mention it on here last year. So like the OP bought it for coppers from ebay, and I agree, still a great read, thanks for the review AY
The review ain't mine - the credit all goes to @sirbhp
 

syrup

LE
I read it f

I read it first in the early 80s or thereabouts, and saw someone mention it on here last year. So like the OP bought it for coppers from ebay, and I agree, still a great read, thanks for the review AY


You done well getting it for copper I saw a copy on Amazon for £80 and that was one of the cheap ones
 
There were a few similar themed novels around like this - I recall one called The Last Carpathian Wolf or something like that, which iirc was about a German combat unit trying to fight/evade its way back to Germany after the capitulation in 1945 and there only being one bloke remaining. Details are very vague now as it’s almost 40 years since I read it probably


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk, possibly whilst on the throne
 
You done well getting it for copper I saw a copy on Amazon for £80 and that was one of the cheap ones
I was going to say the same. I loaned my copy to my brother in law about 25 years ago when they were rarer than rocking horse evacuations and fetching £200+.

I'm still waiting for its return.
 
There were a few similar themed novels around like this - I recall one called The Last Carpathian Wolf or something like that, which iirc was about a German combat unit trying to fight/evade its way back to Germany after the capitulation in 1945 and there only being one bloke remaining. Details are very vague now as it’s almost 40 years since I read it probably


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk, possibly whilst on the throne

Yes, the Last Carpathian Wolf was by Heinz Konsalik - another one I remember reading in that era. There was also The Willing Flesh by Willi Heinrich, on which the screenplay for Cross of Iron was based. Interestingly, when talking with Bundeswehr colleagues who had seen the film; most had thought the action scenes good, but its portrayal of German soldiers less so; especially the climate of cynicism; which they felt was based more on the American Army in Vietnam.
 

Bollox

War Hero
I read and loved it when I was a teenager, is this the book where they destroy a vc camp by putting poison in the camps water supply?
 
I read it because my boxhead mum's brother ended up in the FFL after he finished his time as a POW. He was one of Hitlers Werewolves as a 14 year old, was caught and got banged up. He went to work in a post war factory and ended up kicking the crap out of his foreman so badly he thought he had killed the bloke so did a runner. Next thing the family heard was when they got a postcard from Indo China (Vietnam) 18 months later, he spent another 18 months there before catching a couple of rounds in his legs when his patrol was ambushed. He finished his time in a military hospital in Marseilles going through physio for a couple of years.

I have a very old copy of Devils Guard and try to remember to read it every couple of years along with another book called The Corsican, by William Heffernan. Both jointly top my favourite book list.
 

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