New book – Operation Colossus: The First British Airborne Raid of World War II.

As well as my book on Luftwaffe Maritime Operations (Seaforth Publishing), which is well underway, I’ve just contracted to do another new book, this time for Greenhill Publishing, with whom I am lucky to have worked many times already. This time it is about British forces, telling the story of the first British parachute operation of the Second World War. Seven officers and 28 men from the newly formed 11 Special Air Service Battalion under the command of Major Trevor Allan Gordon Pritchard (of the Royal Welch Fusiliers), dropped on the Tragino Aqueduct during the night of 10 Feb 1941 in order to sabotage the supply of water to southern Italy.

It’s a very interesting story and took place about two hours from where I now live. The book will encompass the beginnings of the SAS and the British Parachute Regiment as well as the operation itself – full of bravery and tragedy – and its aftermath.

For years I have found the battle of Arnhem in 1944 absolutely fascinating. Among the many books I’ve  accumulated on Operation Market Garden, is Anthony Deane-Drummond’s ‘Return Ticket’ which my parents bought for me when I was about 12 as part of a ‘Three Great War Stories’ collection. Deane-Drummond was an incredible soldier who was a member of the Royal Corps of Signals before volunteering for airborne service in time to be part of 11 Special Air Service Battalion at the rank of Lieutenant. Twice he was captured – once after Operation Colossus and once after fighting in Arnhem – and twice he escaped. It is my privilege to be writing about this man and the others that took part in Colossus.