Osprey's Operation 'Archery'
The Commandos and the Vaagso Raid-1941
80 pages, 7¼ x 9¼
Right after the 'miracle of Dunkirk', which was actually pretty much a disaster for the British Army, there was a need to do something more than just a few pinprick raids against the Germans. It was obvious that nothing major would be done in Europe for many years so something had to be done.
As mentioned, there were a few rather poorly coordinated raids on various parts of the coast, but these did little to really hurt the German war machine. The benefit of these somewhat bungled events was they it let planners know what did and what did not work. It also taught the importance of proper planning as one coastal raid happened during high tide and it was a miracle that anyone got ashore.
It was decided that Norway would be a good place to stage a major operation. It was where the Germans got their supplies of iron ore to make steel and there was a lot of coastal shipping traffic that was relatively safe behind the numerous coastal islands that dot Norway.
A two pronged attack was planned with troops invading the Loften Islands to the north and Vaagso to the south. The northern raid was supposed to keep troops on the islands for several days while shipping was interrupted and facilities destroyed. The Vaagso raid was to destroy the German infrastructure and destroy the fish oil plants as fish oil was an important ingredient in a number of processes from ammunition to lubricants.
The Royal Navy was not fond of the idea of having so many ships involved, but there was no getting around that warships were needed. The largest ships were cruisers with most being destroyers as well as the required transports for the commandos and other troops.
The plans were made and troops were trained to where everyone knew their job. It was important to have local air superiority so the RAF was to do their part by bombing gun emplacements and airfields nearby to prevent the movement of the Luftwaffe. It was one of the first combined services operations and as such, went particularly well.
I won't ruin the book for you, but to say that the Vaagso raid went quite well and the northern raid on the Loften Islands was a failure would be the jist of things. However, this book concentrates on the Vaagso raid. It covers the units involved, the plans, the dispostion of the German defense and finally the raid itself. We are graced with a number of photos taken during the raid and that really helps to get a feel for how the raid progressed.
It is an excellent book that delves into small unit operations as few have in the past. It is a book that will keep your interest to see how things worked out and provides insights into the first really successful commando operation held by the British. It is a book that I can highly recommend to you.
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