Intelligence in Public Media

Learning from World War II Special Operations
Reviewed by JR Seeger

The Ariadne Objective: The Underground War to Rescue Crete from the Nazis
Wes Davis (Crown Publishers, 2013), 329 pp., photos, map.

Abducting a General: The Kreipe Operation and SOE in Crete
Patrick Leigh Fermor (New York Review of Books, 2015), 240 pp.

Kidnap in Crete
Rick Stroud (Bloomsbury USA, 2014), 288 pp., photos, maps.

Natural Born Heroes: How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance
Christopher McDougall (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), 337 pp., map.

This year, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, is also the 70th anniversary of the end of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) of the United Kingdom and its US counterpart, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Well documented SOE and OSS activities in the Eastern Mediterranean have provided source material for dozens of books written on operations in Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, and the islands off the coast of Turkey. Here, small numbers of special operations men and women collaborated with resistance armies against Nazi occupiers with little or no hope of an eventual invasion by conventional Allied armies. The SOE and the OSS sent a mix of combat and academic specialists into this complex military and political environment with the objective of disrupting Nazi occupation, forcing the Germans to maintain large combat forces throughout the region—forces they should have transferred to more strategic locations. These operations are true adventure stories that rival any fiction written by Ian Fleming, Graham Greene, or Alistair MacLean.

In the middle of this combat theater was the island of Crete, occupied by the Nazis in 1941 after a dramatic assault of the island by German airborne forces. German soldiers occupied the island until the end of the war.

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All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in this journal are those of the authors. Nothing in any of the articles should be construed as asserting or implying US government endorsement of their factual statements and interpretations. Articles by non-US government employees are copyrighted.

Posted: Feb 08, 2016 12:09 PM
Last Updated: Feb 08, 2016 12:09 PM