Barrie Pitt on special forces

Discussion in 'Special Forces' started by Len Trim, Jan 5, 2020.

  1. Len Trim

    Len Trim Senior Member

    In his book Western Desert 1941 Pitt is very damning of certain special forces that sprang up. He singles out raids code named Rookery, Nook and Cuckoo as especially farcical. Which units were responsible for these I wonder?
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  2. Simon_Fielding

    Simon_Fielding Withnail67

    Looks like Layforce and / or early SAS

    SAS Zero Hour: The Secret Origins of the Special Air Service
    By Tim Jones

    rook nook.png
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  3. Len Trim

    Len Trim Senior Member

    Thanks for your reply. Suspected it might have been Layforce but could not find a reference.
    Just finished rereading The Crucible of War, Western Desert 1941 and as I mentioned above Barrie Pitt is pretty scathing towards special forces except the LRDG. Reckons they were amateur set ups for well connected rich young men who would have been better employed as 'normal' regimental officers.
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  4. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Well, the SAS did straighten up, and destroyed a lot of aircraft. I think Popski's Private Army did some useful things too. I'm not sure about any others.
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  5. Simon_Fielding

    Simon_Fielding Withnail67

    Powerful argument - Barrie Pitt was a great writer - wasn't he one of the editors of the Purnell History of the Second World War partwork?
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  6. wibs12

    wibs12 Well-Known Member

    According to wiki, yes....... article here.
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  7. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    An interesting gentleman and writer (Barrie William Edward Pitt, 1918 - 2006). I have always enjoyed his writing.

    Obituary from Telegraph below, hopefully of interest for folks who've not seen it before.

    I did look into the POW side of things upon his death in 2006 but other events took over and enquiries fell by the wayside (the two possible I found at the time were "E W Pitt, Bombardier R.A. 1509349, and W E Pitt (Iinitials transposed on records maybe?) Corporal, The Gloucestershire Regiment 5179470", both (coincidently?) in Lamsdorf. All too thin for me and priority of other events at the time pushed it off the back burner.

    Kind regards, always,


    Last edited: Jan 6, 2020
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  8. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    There are three records within the British Army Casualty Lists 1939-1945 database on FindMyPast:

    First name(s) B W E
    Last name Pitt
    Year 1940
    Service number 7360447
    Rank Corporal
    Rank as transcribed Cpl
    Regiment Royal Army Medical Corps
    Regiment as transcribed Royal Army Medical Corps
    Theatre of war France
    Archive reference WO 417/19
    Listed as missing on 15/6/1940 (

    2. He is listed as a Prisoner of War (

    3. In which he is listed as Previously reported as a Prisoner of War now repatriated (
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  9. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Thank you so much for posting this BFBSM, very much appreciated.

    Back in 2006 I looked in the copy of "Prisoners Of War British Army 1939 - 1945" that I had, and I didn't find the above (which is not to say it isn't there, just that I could have missed it at the time!).

    His branch of service being RAMC explains much.

    Again, thanks for posting.

    Kind regards, always,

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  10. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I don't have findmypast membership.

    What are the dates of reports 2) and 3)?
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  11. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything


    Kind regards, always,

  12. Len Trim

    Len Trim Senior Member

    Now into volume 11, Alamein 1942, and he is now quite enthusiastic about both Popski and the SAS. He seems to have reserved his ire for Layforce and Keyes' raids believing that they used up too many high quality men and valued resources to little effect.
    I have seen a similar argument used about the airborne forces and indeed I believe it goes on to this day. Not an argument I hold with. See avatar haha!
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  13. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Indeed the same criticisms were levelled at SOE. Twas ever thus, back in the eighteenth century amphibious raids on the French coast were condemned as 'throwing golden guineas to break windows'.
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  14. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    Jim, 2 is 1940, and 3 is 1943.

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