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Operation Biting

The 1942 Parachute Assault to Capture Hitler’s Radar

Max Hastings

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English
HARPER360
05 June 2024
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THE INSTANT SUNDAY TIMES BESTELLER

'There are few things in life more dependable than a war story told by Hastings… He’s a master of drama, a writer intimately familiar with the mind of the soldier' THE TIMES

Operation Biting was one of the most thrilling British commando raids of World War II, and probably the most successful. In February 1942 RAF intelligence was baffled by a newly-identified radar network on the coast of Nazi-occupied Europe, codenamed Würzburg. The brilliant scientist Dr RV Jones proposed an assault to capture key components. The nearest accessible enemy set stood upon a steep cliff at Bruneval in Normandy. Winston Churchill enthused, as did Lord Louis Mountbatten, chief of Combined Operations. A company of the newly-formed Airborne Forces was committed to the operation, which took place on the night of 27/28 February. Amid heavy snow 120 men landed, some of whom were misdropped almost two miles from their objective. They nonetheless launched the assault, dismantled the German radar, and after three nail-biting hours in France and a fierce battle with Wehrmacht defenders, escaped in the nick of time by landing-craft across stormy seas to Portsmouth.

Max Hastings recounts this cliffhanging tale in a wealth of previously unchronicled detail. He portrays its remarkable personalities: the ‘boffin’ RV Jones; the peacock Mountbatten; the troubled husband of Daphne Du Maurier, Gen. ’Boy’ Browning, who commanded the Airborne Division; ‘Colonel Remy’, the French secret agent whose men reconnoitered Bruneval at mortal risk; Major John Frost, who led the paras into action; Charlie Cox, the little RAF technician who stripped the Würzburg and became an unexpected hero; Wing-Commander Charles Pickard, a legendary bomber pilot who led the drop squadron. Seldom have so many fascinating personalities been brought together to fulfil a mission that became a front-page triumph in a season of British defeats.

Recounted in Hastings’ familiar best-selling blend of top-down and bottom-up action detail, Operation Biting tells a story that has become almost forgotten yet deserves to rank among the epic tales of courage and daring that took place in the greatest conflict in history.
By:  
Imprint:   HARPER360
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 33mm
Weight:   280g
ISBN:   9780008642174
ISBN 10:   0008642176
Pages:   384
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Max Hastings is the author of twenty-six books, most about conflict, and between 1986 and 2002 served as editor-in-chief of the Daily Telegraph, then editor of the Evening Standard. He has won many prizes both for journalism and his books, of which the most recent are All Hell Let Loose, Catastrophe and The Secret War, best-sellers translated around the world. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, an Honorary Fellow of King’s College, London and was knighted in 2002. He has two grown-up children, Charlotte and Harry, and lives with his wife Penny in West Berkshire, where they garden enthusiastically.

Reviews for Operation Biting: The 1942 Parachute Assault to Capture Hitler’s Radar

EARLY PRAISE FOR OPERATION BITING: 'There are few things in life more dependable than a war story told by Hastings… He’s a master of drama, a writer intimately familiar with the mind of the soldier… Hastings unfolds this little drama at a delightfully leisurely pace. The Bruneval operation fell into the lap of Lord Louis Mountbatten, the newly appointed commodore of Combined Operations. Hastings, never one to suffer fools, is wonderfully acerbic, calling Mountbatten an “extreme narcissist” who was attracted to the glory that a successful raid might bring. Hastings is a superb military historian with a delightful talent for gossip… Operation Biting is not a typical war story. War histories are usually studies in failure. So many catastrophic mistakes. So many needless deaths. What a relief then, joy even, to be able to read about a battle with a happy ending and genuine heroes — a day that went well' The Times ‘Operation Biting is an important book, and proof that the detailed telling of a small piece of history can illuminate our understanding of a much greater whole. It’s one in a long line of Second World War books written by Hastings in an engaging and entertaining way. Now that almost all the veterans of the conflict are no longer with us, his work is especially valuable: all that remains is the history, and the historians who tell it' Daily Telegraph


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