When Shall Their Glory Fade? (Book) Review

by Richard Gough - Military Author and Historian
When Shall Their Glory Fade?

Released: 24th August 2016
RRP: £14.99
Publisher: Frontline Books
Author: James Dunning
Type: Paperback
ISBN: 9781848329249
Pages: 304

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The Commandoes - first of our present day special forces, was formed in 1940: a crumb of an idea by Winston Churchill. In his youth, forty years earlier, he was in South Africa during the Boer War. At that time Dutch settlers formed an irregular mounted military force known as Commandos. Punching above their weight they attacked British regular troops causing heavy losses and damage. In the process taking Winston Churchill prisoner.

In 1940 ,Germany was on the verge of invading Britain and there was very little the country had to stop them, never-the-less Churchill decided to get-in the first blow. He formed a new special unit of volunteers to strike hard, fast and withdraw. He gave it the title Commandoes. Their exploits was a morale raiser at home, and were the tip of Churchill's sword in the fight back to defeat the country's enemies Germany,Italy and later Japan.

In his book 'When Shall their Glory Fade' James Dunning a Commando veteran, describes thirty eight battle honours: a catalogue of personal accounts by survivors. For many of a certain age the roll call of Honours will bring back many memories, the Lofoten raid in Norway, the suicidal raid at St Nazaire, Dieppe, the bloody stalemate on Anzio beach-head to just mention a few. The Commandoes were in the fore on each occasion.

The Commandoes were highly trained, lightly armed, averse to risk with fire in their bellies. Special trained for a specific role: but often senior officers not appreciating their value used them simply as infantrymen. The author brings out the gritty side of war: on D Day bodies of soldiers in the sea wallowing in the shallows, body parts, friends shot down alongside you, trekking miles in the pouring rain carrying one's personal weapon and a back pack of 100lbs then leading an assault on an enemy position. Both success and failure had its cost which could be almost 50% causalities, dead, wounded and missing. These vacancies were replaced by reinforcements from the Commando Training Centre at Achnacarry in Scotland.

An absorbing work supported with maps and photographs.


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