New Book: Churchill's Shadow Raiders

Discussion in 'Books, Films, TV, Radio' started by Ann Pryor, Jul 2, 2020.

  1. Ann Pryor

    Ann Pryor New Member

    Award-winning British author and war correspondent Damien Lewis used salvaged British War archival material to create the thrilling narrative of his new nonfiction book CHURCHILL’S SHADOW RAIDERS: The Race to Develop Radar, WWII’s Invisible Secret Weapon (Kensington Books; May 2020; HC, $27.00). This is the true story of a daring parachute-and-sea raid – executed shortly after Dunkirk - to capture the Germans’ advanced Wurzburg radar, using what Churchill called “ungentlemanly warfare”. The Shadow Raiders undertook the first operation to seize the German radar in Operation Biting – the Allies’ first successful airborne raid, claiming a top-secret weapon that changed the course of history, and left Hitler incandescent with rage.

    Lewis has spent over two decades reporting from war, disaster, and conflict zones around the world, winning numerous awards. He has written more than a dozen books about WWII, including The Ministry for Ungentlemanly Warfare, The Dog Who Could Fly, SAS Ghost Patrol, and The Nazi Hunters. His work has been published in over forty languages, and many of his books have been made, or are being developed as feature films, TV series, or as plays for the stage.

    Lewis knew a little about Operation Biting, the British plan to capture the Germans’ Wurzburg radar. An elderly gentleman approached him after a lecture and explained that this little-known story of the war might have been lost, had not the records been rescued from destruction, languishing and rotting in an old war hangar. Using thousands of declassified archival documents and photographs from Britain’s Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE, for short), Lewis reconstructed the story of this mission, integral in defeating Nazi Germany’s radar and other vital technologies.

    The British were known for their unparalleled skill in photographic intelligence-gathering and dangerous reconnaissance work. In the winter of 1941, intrepid pilots had taken aerial photographs of something unusual atop the chalk cliffs of Normandy. A crack photographic interpreter, Claude Wavell immediately confirmed this mysterious paraboloid - a “Wurzburg Dish” – as a new form of radar technology. Ultra-compact and highly precise, it was pointing directly across the English Channel. Britain’s experts found it hard to believe the Germans had mastered such groundbreaking technology. But Wavell knew that more sophisticated radar would spell disaster for the Allies.

    Capturing the radar on film had been an amazing coup. Stealing it away from under the noses of the Nazis would be remarkable.

    Listen to Lewis on The World War II Podcast here:
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  2. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Little known story? This is, surely, a very well known story - covered in all the many books about the Parachute Regiment in WW2, and going back to RV Jones' and George Millar's books in the 1970's.

    "changed the course of history" is a little strong as well - OK for a publisher's blurb I suppose. :whistle:

    I do wish Damien well with his book though.:D


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  3. JDKR

    JDKR Member

    Damien Lewis might have known a little about Op BITING but a great number of others know alot! For instance Paul Oldfield, who wrote an excellent book on the raid published by Pen & Sword in 2013: Bruneval

    I don’t know about anyone else but for some reason I find book titles based on names, such as ‘Hitler’s...’, ‘Churchill’s...’, ‘Monty’s...’ rather cringeworthy. Anyhow, good luck with the book Damien.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
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