‘I loved this book, as I love any good adventure story sublimely told . . . a gloriously exciting high, followed by a crushing realisation of war’s enormous waste’ Gerard deGroot, The Times
‘Absorbing . . . The extraordinary bravery of the participants shines out from the narrative’ Patrick Bishop, Sunday Telegraph
FROM THE AUTHOR OF BRIDGE OF SPIES: A dramatic and colourful new account of the most daring British commando raid of World War Two
In the darkest months of the Second World War, Churchill approved what seemed to many like a suicide mission. Under orders to attack the St Nazaire U-boat base on the Atlantic seaboard, British commandos undertook “the greatest raid of all”, turning an old destroyer into a live bomb and using it to ram the gates of a Nazi stronghold. Five Victoria Crosses were awarded — more than in any similar operation.
Drawing on official documents, interviews, unknown accounts and the astonished reactions of French civilians and German forces, The Greatest Raid recreates in cinematic detail the hours in which the “Charioteers” fought and died, from Lt Gerard Brett, the curator at the V & A, to “Bertie” Burtinshaw, who went into battle humming There’ll Always be an England, and from Lt Stuart Chant, who set the fuses with 90 seconds to escape, to the epic solo reconnaissance of the legendary Times journalist Capt Micky Burn.
Unearthing the untold human stories of Operation Chariot, Bridge of Spies author Giles Whittell reveals it to be a fundamentally misconceived raid whose impact and legacy was secured by astonishing bravery.
‘Enthralling . . . the heroism on display that night was unsurpassed, and Whittell is right to call his book The Greatest Raid‘ Simon Griffith, Mail on Sunday
‘A compelling page-turner, the work of a master storyteller. The drama of the March 1942 operation is cinematic in its sweep and detail — and Whittell’s detective work on the real reasons for the raid is extraordinary. Beautifully written‘ Matthew d’Ancona