Book Review – ‘Secret Flotillas: Volume 2: Clandestine sea operations in the western Mediterranean, North Africa and the Adriatic, 1940–1944’ by Brooks Richards
Sir Francis ‘Brooks’ Richards, was a British diplomat and, during the Second World War, a director of operations for the Special Operations Executive. He was personally involved in some of the operations he here describes as official historian and took part in running agents across the Channel, winning the first of his two DSCs for gallantry under enemy fire. In 1943 he moved to the Mediterranean and soon began a distinguished diplomatic career, culminating in several years as ambassador in Athens in the 1970s. He then went on to work in the Civil Service, including the writing of Secret Flotillas, the Official History of clandestine operations. It was first published in a single volume in 1996 by HMSO. A revised edition was published by Frank Cass in 2004 in two volumes (two years after his death). This division into two volumes had as one of its justifications the somewhat whimsical notion that it would allow tourists and sightseers in northern France to more readily identify the locations of operations. Volume 1 covered operations from UK ports, while the second volume covered the Western Mediterranean, North Africa and the Adriatic and in particular was expanded to cover the very substantial number of operations – almost 400 – in and around Italy, many using Italian vessels and crew. This volume is now reprinted by Pen and Sword in a sturdy and serviceable paperback edition. It can safely be described as a bargain, priced at approximately 20 per cent of the price of the 2004 hardback….