Wednesday, August 11, 2010

T-Force; The Forgotten Hero's of 1945

By Sean Longden

This book is about a British unit that was set up during World War Two originally by James Bond author, Commander Ian Fleming, then of British Naval Intelligence. Its purpose was to locate and secure German military technology, a lot of which was being destroyed and as the battle lines moved over the factories and test grounds of Nazi Germany. SHAEF came to realise that as the Allied forces were moving across Europe, they were destroying both valuable technical research and important evidence of Nazi crimes. The group which eventually became known as T-Force was created to prevent this, and to 'grab as much loot as possible'. The western Allies understood that the more they could salvage from the German's the better equipped they would be in the inevitable confrontation with Stalin.

Eventually T-Force was the only British unit to remain in action after the cease fire with Germany had come into effect. In order to prevent the Russians from getting there first, and possibly entering Denmark from the south, T-Force, with a force of 500 men sped ahead of the British front line to secure the city of Kiel, which was guarded along the way by two SS divisions and a city garrison of 20,000 guards. They succeeded. Thankfully.

From a war gaming perspective there is a lot of scope for skirmish games here. T-Force units were often small and fast, armed mostly with infantry weapons and occasionally armoured cars. The nature of their missions meant they seldom faced heavy resistance and each mission had a clear goal to secure an objective. There is also the Ian Fleming angle. According to Longden, Fleming based a lot of the ideas and characters of his Bond novels on his experiences with T-Force and his forerunners.

Unfortunately the book is not very well written. There is a lot of repetition and I suspect the author of padding to compensate for a lack of official records. Most of the book appears to be based on the memories of former T-Force personnel and as a consequence I never really got a good idea of T-Force as an operational unit. This may not be Sean Longden's fault however as most official records do not seem to have survived. Given how much of the latter half of the book deals with British forces looting Germany under the unofficial guise of 'war reparations', and putting one over the Soviets, that's probably no great surprise, but it doesn't change the fact that the book is confused, jumping back and forth between seemingly random facts and quotes.

The subject deserves a star all by itself though, so I'm inclined to be lenient.

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