• Author: John Durnford-Slater
  • Publisher: Greenhill Books (Pen & Sword, 2020. (first published 1953), 217 pages, 36 black and white photographs and 7 sketch maps.
  • Price: £13.99 (Softback)
  • ISBN:  9781784385606

Publishers’ blurb … John Durnford-Slater raised and trained the first Commando unit in 1940, became an outstanding leader of special operations and witnessed some of the most daring exploits of World War II. Commando is his remarkable story. 3 Commando sprang into being in 1940 in order to harry Axis forces in pinprick raids that were impossible for regular army units. In the summer of 1940 John Durnford-Slater led the men of 3 Commando in an exploratory operation on Guernsey. A raid on the Loften Islands, off Norway, followed in 1941 and, between 26 and 28 December 1941, the commandos launched their raid against Vaagso. 3 Commando took part in the raid on Dieppe and this was followed by operations in Sicily and Italy, France and, ultimately, Germany itself. The destruction wrought by the commandos was such that Hitler ordered all personnel captured in such raids executed. The commandos' spirit, however, remained undaunted and this is reflected in John Durnford-Slater's exciting and forthright memoirs. Now placed in context by David List's details of 3 Commando's operations, and David Buxton's notes on casualties and awards, this stirring book, long heralded as a classic, now makes its first appearance as a paperback. John Durnford-Slater was appointed 'to raise and command' 3 Commando in 1940. He was later responsible as Deputy Commander of the Special Service Group for all Commando companies taking part in the invasion of France.


This revised edition of Durnford Slater’s 1953 compelling story of No.3 Commando includes a new foreword by Neil Barber, but otherwise is unchanged. The story of Captain John Durnford Slater RA is a fascinating, boys own adventure from training to participation in many of the most famous Second World War commando operations. Durnford Slater has a good engaging writing style which makes this first-hand account of No.3 Commando top class. From the raid on Guernsey in 1940, the Lofoten Islands, Vaagso in 1941, Dieppe in 1942 and Sicily in 1943, and as brigade commander in Italy. He tells his story of his own experiences as a D Day planner and deputy commander of the divisional sized commando force in North West Europe (1944-45). It was not plain sailing for Durnford Slater and his unit, but with his hand picked officers and men he grew them from a motley crew of private’s and subaltern’s into one of the most effective commando forces of the war. Full of fighting, humour and booze ups, Commando is an absorbing memoir of this gallant band of green berets. Recommended reading.

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