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Operation Biting

Operation Biting

by Max Hastings

Format
Paperback
Category
Non-Fiction
Publisher
Harper Collins
Publish Date
June 2024

Operation Biting was one of the most thrilling British commando raids of World War II, and probably the most successful.
In February 1942 RAF intelligence was baffled by a newly-identified radar network on the coast of Nazi-occupied Europe, codenamed WĂĽrzburg. The brilliant scientist Dr RV Jones proposed an assault to capture key components. The nearest accessible enemy set stood upon a steep cliff at Bruneval in Normandy. Winston Churchill enthused, as did Lord Louis Mountbatten, chief of Combined Operations. A company of the newly-formed Airborne Forces was committed to the operation, which took place on the night of 27/28 February. Amid heavy snow 120 men landed, some of whom were misdropped almost two miles from their objective. They nonetheless launched the assault, dismantled the German radar, and after three nail-biting hours in France and a fierce battle with Wehrmacht defenders, escaped in the nick of time by landing-craft across stormy seas to Portsmouth.

Max Hastings recounts this cliffhanging tale in a wealth of previously unchronicled detail. He portrays its remarkable personalities: the 'boffin' RV Jones; the peacock Mountbatten; the troubled husband of Daphne Du Maurier, Gen. 'Boy' Browning, who commanded the Airborne Division; 'Colonel Remy', the French secret agent whose men reconnoitered Bruneval at mortal risk; Major John Frost, who led the paras into action; Charlie Cox, the little RAF technician who stripped the WĂĽrzburg and became an unexpected hero; Wing-Commander Charles Pickard, a legendary bomber pilot who led the drop squadron. Seldom have so many fascinating personalities been brought together to fulfil a mission that became a front-page triumph in a season of British defeats.

Recounted in Hastings' familiar best-selling blend of top-down and bottom-up action detail, Operation Biting tells a story that has become almost forgotten yet deserves to rank among the epic tales of courage and daring that took place in the greatest conflict in history.

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