Get Rommel!

Yes, I read 'Get Rommel' last year. I have to confess that prior to reading it my only knowledge of the real 'Raid on Rommel' came from watching the opening scenes of the movie 'The Desert Fox' (1951) starring James Mason. In it I recall a captured British soldier after the raid asking a German officer (played by American actor Richard Boone) if they got him (Rommel). Boone answers him with a disdainful "English, you weren't even close!"

While you say that Asher did a B20 job on the events of the raid, I would suggest that he held the events up to some real hitherto unknown scrutiny. I found it extremely interesting that over 60 years later there is still no real knowledge of what actually occurred during the raid, even from the surviving participants. I agree that it doesn't show some of the participants in a very good light at all, particularly Keyes, however Asher seems determined to show the participants as they were, warts and all.

I think Asher did a good job of laying out a series of well researched and well thought points for the reader's consideration about what happened on that lonely desert night so long ago, but I don't think he did it to be malicious or for sensationalism. Personally I believe that Asher feels, as do I, that the raid, whether a success or failure, was an act of extreme bravery carried out under very dangerous conditions. The valour shown by those who were there cannot be diminished by the raid's poor planning, preparation or execution. In short the truth, no matter how damning, cannot tarnish the achievements of it's participants.

I would recommend it as a good read. It shows the heroes as humans and that humans have flaws. I think it should be remembered that this was an early raid and it is in the first operations that the mistakes are made. The mistakes that were corrected as the war continued. I would also suggest that perhaps the published story of the raid was put forward to bolster a war-weary British population desperately in need of positive news of the war. Maybe this was the reason the real story was so hard to discover and so tightly held all these years.


PS: Consider what future historians might be finding out about the 'Raid on Pebble Island' 40 years from now?
Excellent work by Asher, perhaps more poignant if the reader is familiar with some of the ‘Boy’s Own’ thumbnails which surround the episode. If not, I would think this work is far more suited to take as a benchmark with which to test other accounts against.

Asher sets out his reasoning, conclusions and theories clearly, so for any conducting their own research it shouldn’t be difficult to identify areas where you agree or disagree and why. As a former officer in the modern SAS, Asher brings military knowledge and understanding from a SF perspective to the research, coupled with logic and deduction.

He deals with a number of issues other than the raid itself which, for example, question several accounts of the SAS formation and it’s pioneers. It’s also an illustration of the disintegration of Layforce and attempts of some to preserve their individual SF identity. Nothing alters factual events, rather some glamorous stories of the circumstances. It’s a serious endeavour in real history and IMHO, an essential one.


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