The Brandenburger Commandos

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Random_Task, Jul 23, 2007.

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  1. Amazon Link
    Recently in a moment of extreme weakness and under the influence of red wine,I ordered the above.

    Not been 100% impressed with it so far,it's very interesting,but it needs a good editor,for example,the author makes references to 'Great Britian' & 'the English Army'.
    However,the reason I'm posting in thus, in the chapter named 'Trouble Spot Afghanistan:The Afghan Company' reference is made to an airborne counter attack by the British in July/August 1940.

    Following several close calls/ambushes/contacts with British forces,once when resting up,their 'village' (disguised as a tribal village) was spotted by a British recce aircraft. Fearing the British would return to bomb the village (apparently oweing to a lack of livestock/women/children it didn't look convincing) the unit pressed on.

    I wasn't aware the British were using paratroopers at this time,especially on the NW Frontier,anyone able to shed any light on this?
  2. The whole thing does seem weird RT, Certainly orders for the formation of a parachute unit came from Churchill/CoS in June 1940 as part of the formation of the Commandos. That was the original role of No.2 Cdo. Without rechecking, I’m pretty sure that the training centre set-up at Ringway was on a ‘from scratch’ basis, Ringway previously just an airfield. I don’t recall mention of any ‘old hands’ being drafted in and I think they collared an aerial entertainer as an instructor? Texts site the first op not till early ’41 in Italy (Colossus), and that very much on a try-out basis.

    Your book seems to state/imply the men were dropped into mountains. I’m sure paratroop posters will comment, but I would have though there’s a lot of problems with this, even for experts? Hitler attacked the Soviets in what, June of ’41, and they had a Para capability, so maybe it was the Soviets? I’m not putting anything on it though. Like my maths teacher used to say checking my homework, it don’t add up.

    [Edited because just noticed I typed 'Ringwood' when everybody knows it's 'Ringway'! - bloody mong]
    [FFS, edited again because I couldn't edit fully the first time!!!!! - long walk, short pier time]

  3. The whole book sounds a bit waltish and far-fetched - the Germans certainly did send "scientific" expeditions to try and stir up insurrection in Afghanistan, but I seem to recall that they were completely ineffective. In the accounts I've read, there were no mentions of actual armed action, and I've not heard tales of "firefights" between German SF and British/ Indian troops. The time-frame pre-dates any British parachute operations that far east.
  4. I'd agree with that, it seems a couple of years too early for what's being described. The author,Franz Kurowski,was apparently a reporter during WW2 in the German Army.

    No footnotes either,I may just ship it back!
  5. I don't doubt the Abwehr's likely appetite for such escapades,but their capability to mount them,I'd imagine,would be completely different.

  6. All activities of the Irish Walting Regment squadron ( Daft Eddie's Own~ Panshir Valley) of 49 Para remain covered by D Notice and the 100 year rule.

    Suggest MoDs delete this thread on OPSEC grounds.
  7. Looked through some books dealing with the Brandenburger’s, but nothing on this incident. In the slightly ponderous ‘Canaris’ (Heinz Höhne) however, it refers to a plan to incite anti British action in Afghanistan/India as Operation TIGER.

    It names the Abwehr II agent, (or V-Mann : Vertrauensmann – ‘Trusted person’), in Kabul as Oberregierungsrat Wöhrl, and the originator of the plan. The plan was; ”……to reinstate Afghanistan’s pro-German ex-King Amanullah by means of a coup and stage an anti British revolt by mountain tribes on the Afghan-Indian border.” Author states this information coming from the diary of Lt. Col. Erwin Lahousen of the Austrian Defence Ministry. Also states Canaris put this plan (among others) to Hitler on 6th Sept 1939 as 'Wöhrl project'> Presume became Op TIGER when adopted.

    In his book ‘Kommando’, for July 1940, James Lucas places the BBs in; ”Preparations for the invasion of Great Britain.”

    Re this Para drop, six planes was the number used on COLOSSUS to deploy 36 men. And, would the British really respond in this way when, even as your book states, they had a patrol on the job? 8O

  8. Interesting stuff No.9, thanks for cross referencing.

    As you seem to indicate, I don't think the British would respond in such a manner,especially with such a precious,very new, resource as airborne forces.

    The bibliography on this book is impressive,but as he's written it without footnotes,it's hard to tell what has come from where.Shame really,be nice to be able to know a bit more about the origins of this 'episode'.
  9. Cannot shed any light on the validity of the incident but only point out.

    From Slims biography (at work so no access to title, may be standard bearer, publisher or exact words) it is said that when he was an instructor at the Indian Staff College he wrote a paper on the use of air in military operations. Not just CAS but assault and resupply. Not sure if he was in the area at the time, I have a vague idea that he was in Iran heading towards the Soviet border in 40/41.

    It was just to add that some one in the area was very much into the use of air assets for other tasks beside bombing villages.
  10. Slim commanded a brigade in the invasion of Italian East Africa in 1940, and then 10th Indian Division in Iraq and Syria, 1941.
  11. There were no British Paratroopers in April 1940 and they did not start to form the Para's till a few months later. The Indian Parachute Regiment was not formed until 1941 and it was set up a British Officer Pat Munroe
  12. Going back to the ‘Kommando’ book I mentioned by James Lucas, I noticed there’s nothing really about the author. Checking several other books of his, much the same. Looking on the web I found one reference which had to be retrieved from a cached image as the Greenhill Books site didn’t work? Anyway, turned out to be an obit with reference to another military author whose been around for years, Ian Hogg.

    [align=center]James Lucas [/align]
    We record with sadness the death of James Lucas, on 19th June. Jimmie wrote books on World War Two, in which he participated. He was a Londoner by birth, and served during World War Two in Tunisia, at the Salerno landing and in Northern Italy. At the conclusion of hostilities, he was part of the Army of Occupation in Austria, where he met the person who was to become his wife.
    Professionally Jimmie was for many years Deputy Head of the Department of Photographs at the Imperial War Museum, and was involved in the supply of the photographs to the major part works in the 1960s and 1970s, such as Purnell's History of World War Two, and where he met and worked with many military historians of note.

    Lionel Leventhal first worked with Jimmie soon after he founded Arms & Armour Press, and commissioned his first writing which led to his career in authorship. It was a translation from the German of the book which became German Tanks of World War Two: The Complete Illustrated History of German Armoured Fighting Vehicles 1926-1945 by F. M. von Senger und Etterlin, which became the classic in its field and the standard work for many years.

    Lionel Leventhal's Arms & Armour Press subsequently published books by him such as Last Days of the Reich, Kommando: German Special Forces of World War Two, and War in the Desert: The Eighth Army at El Alamain, the last being a particularly evocative book because of Jimmie's experiences of 'going into the blue'.

    Greenhill Books have published his War on the Eastern Front: The German Soldier in Russia 1941-1945, Rommel’s Year of Victory and his contribution to the best-selling Hitler Options, the chapter on Operation Wotan about the Panzer thrust to capture Moscow in 1941.

    Typical of his kindness was when his agent Sheila Watson celebrated a special birthday not so long ago, although he lived in the South of London and Sheila lives in North London, in Hampstead, he hired a car for the journey, being unable to take public transport, and the car waited for the short while he was able to be part of the celebration, and then took him home.

    Together with Ian Hogg, who died recently, Jimmie Lucas was one of the major popularisers of twentieth-century military history.

    Respect :salut:

  13. I did my PhD thesis on the establishment and initial development of British airborne forces, and AFAIK there were no British paratroopers in existence at the time of the incident described. They didn't start to even think about forming them until late June 1940, and were not fully operational at the time of the Tragino Raid in February 1941. Airborne forces in India came even later, altho I came across a very interesting Boy's Own type story about a fictional Indian Army parachute unit published in the late 1930s.

    Oh, and there was nothing precious about the British airborne force in the first year or so of its existence. The RAF saw it as a needless waste of resources and tried to sabotage it behind the scenes, while the Army was happy to leave it on the back burner until they's sorted themselves out after Dunkirk. That's why the War Office folded into the Commando raiding effort at first, because it was easier admin wise.

    Ref the book, I'm naturally suspicious of books that don't provide at least some clue as to where their info came from, and I have to say on the strength of what you've posted thus far it sounds like a load of balls. :)

    all the best,
    Ex Mercian
  14. Ref Kommando by James Lucas:
    I found this book in a secondhand bookshop and thought it looked interesting. Whilst there were some interesting pictures and it did bring to light various German activities that I had been unaware of (mini-subs etc.) I thought it was very badly written aside from being just plain wrong in places. I don't have it now as I thought it not worth keeping and left it at a holiday cottage we were staying in. Incidentally, considering how I hoard books that is a really savage indictment in itself!
    You can get an idea of it by reading the opening pages here:
    Very much sixth form essay style. It gets worse too!
  15. Lucas and Hogg (as far as I'm aware), have never been lauded as 'investigative' or 'mush have' historians. Hogg particularly compiled and/or edited a number of large format colour books on such as tanks and guns, which no doubt pleased boys and novice/casual interest adults. However, these books served many as gateways to 'hardcore' history and as rough guides in general.

    None of their books I have make my top shelf, but some go back to back to my early study days and had a hand fostering considerably more serious interest.

    For this reason I have more respect for these authors than many latter day ‘cobblers’ who have cobbled some poorly researched book together to spin out a few quid. Those that just ‘lie’ to gain promotion and market are utterly beyond contempt of course.