Review: SAS Shadow Raiders – The Ultra-Secret Mission that Changed the Course of WWII, by Damien Lewis

One thing I loved about this book is that it tells a much bigger story than one might imagine. At the heart of Lewis’ tale is the heroic raid by British paratroopers in early 1942 to capture a German radar installation on the French coast. That story alone could have been the entire book. But instead, the author has chosen to put it into context, by initially telling the story of an earlier airborne raid by British soldiers in Italy — one which was mistakenly branded as a failure. He correctly sees this later raid, Operation Biting, as a vindication of the use of airborne troops. But he also doesn’t close the book with the raiders returning home successfully. Instead he follows up with what happened next, explaining clearly the significance of what the raiders did, and how by improving Britain’s own radar defences, and implementing a tactic to circumvent German raider, the raid allowed Bomber Command to do its work much more effectively, and with far fewer losses. The paratroopers described here really did change the course of the war.