A Brilliant Little Operation (Book) Review

by Becky Lawther
A Brilliant Little Operation

Released: 17th September 2012
RRP: 25.00
Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd
Author: Paddy Ashdown
Type: Hardback
ISBN: 9781845137014
Pages: 416

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The story of the legendary Second World War Cockleshell Raid (or as it is officially known: Operation Frankton) is a well-known one. Paddy Ashdown's new book on the subject A Brilliant Little Operation: The Cockleshell Heroes and The Most Courageous Raid of WW2, published to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the raid, consults previously unseen archives in France and Germany, as well as in Britain, to produce a definitive and gripping account of the history of Operation Frankton.

The way he describes the conditions on the night of the raid and throughout the book reflect Ashdown's extensive research and his use of alternative sources as well as already published works such as the memoirs of Corporal Bill Sparks, The Last of the Cockleshell Heroes. He has an excellent narrative style which builds an accurate picture of what the trip must have been like for the ten Royal Marines who actually took part in December 1942, of which only two men survived; Bill Sparks and Major 'Blondie' Hasler.

Ashdown does a good job of presenting the real story of the raid, putting it into context and following it from its conception and planning to the execution and the aftermath and implications. The book is complemented by photographs, illustrations and maps. Overall, a very readable account on a truly fascinating subject, this book is recommended for readers with an interest in military history and particularly in special forces operations.


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