‘Landed. Killed Germans. Fucked off.’

How a post-commando raid report really should be written.

13 thoughts on “‘Landed. Killed Germans. Fucked off.’”

  1. I’ll be adding that book to my Christmas list, for this story alone:

    A n SOE agent, Richard Lippett, persuaded the wife of a prominent German resident to hold a spectacularly drunken dinner party for the German and Italian officers on shore. The alcohol flowed freely and while the ships’ officers were thus engaged, March-Phillipps, Lassen and co broke the German and Italian ships out of the harbour and discreetly towed them to British-ruled Nigeria.

    It was a flagrant act of piracy, and a dangerous breach of neutrality, which Britain steadfastly denied. That was the whole point of the SSRF, to leave behind no tangible proof of British involvement. Churchill was thrilled.

  2. Brilliant, will be adding to my Christmas list too.

    Along with No Good Men Among the Living by Anand Gopal, which contains this nugget (showing how SF can also get it wrong, as if we didn’t know):

    Gopal, a Wall Street Journal and Christian Science Monitor reporter, investigates, for example, a US counterterrorist operation in January 2002. US Central Command in Tampa, Florida, had identified two sites as likely “al-Qaeda compounds.” It sent in a Special Forces team by helicopter; the commander, Master Sergeant Anthony Pryor, was attacked by an unknown assailant, broke his neck as they fought and then killed him with his pistol; he used his weapon to shoot further adversaries, seized prisoners, and flew out again, like a Hollywood hero.

    As Gopal explains, however, the American team did not attack al-Qaeda or even the Taliban. They attacked the offices of two district governors, both of whom were opponents of the Taliban. They shot the guards, handcuffed one district governor in his bed and executed him, scooped up twenty-six prisoners, sent in AC-130 gunships to blow up most of what remained, and left a calling card behind in the wreckage saying “Have a nice day. From Damage, Inc.” Weeks later, having tortured the prisoners, they released them with apologies. It turned out in this case, as in hundreds of others, that an Afghan “ally” had falsely informed the US that his rivals were Taliban in order to have them eliminated. In Gopal’s words:

    The toll [amounted to] twenty-one pro-American leaders and their employees dead, twenty-six taken prisoner, and a few who could not be accounted for. Not one member of the Taliban or al-Qaeda was among the victims. Instead, in a single thirty-minute stretch the United States had managed to eradicate both of Khas Uruzgan’s potential governments, the core of any future anti-Taliban leadership—stalwarts who had outlasted the Russian invasion, the civil war, and the Taliban years but would not survive their own allies.

    Gopal then finds the interview that the US Special Forces commander gave a year and a half later in which he celebrated the derring-do, and recorded that seven of his team were awarded bronze stars, and that he himself received a silver star for gallantry.

    I think my favourite line (showing how crass and juvenile the Yanks can be – at times*, it’s like letting twelve-year-olds loose with the world’s most fearsome technology) is and left a calling card behind in the wreckage saying “Have a nice day. From Damage, Inc.”

    To people with more than a passing interest in Afghanistan it won’t be too surprising. But I loved this (not sure whether to laugh or cry, probably both):

    Dr. Hafizullah, Zurmat’s first governor, had ended up in Guantanamo because he’d crossed Police Chief Mujahed. Mujahed wound up in Guantanamo because he crossed the Americans. Security chief Naim found himself in Guantanamo because of an old rivalry with Mullah Qassim. Qassim eluded capture, but an unfortunate soul with the same name ended up in Guantanamo in his place. And a subsequent feud left Samoud Khan, another pro-American commander, in Bagram prison, while the boy his men had sexually abused was shipped to Guantanamo….

    Abdullah Khan found himself in Guantanamo charged with being Khairullah Khairkhwa, the former Taliban minister of the interior, which might have been more plausible—if Khairkhwa had not also been in Guantanamo at the time…

    *At other times, they are exceptional.

  3. Looking at the comments under the Mail piece, one of the “highest rated” is “Now we need someone to do that in Leeds and Bradford” – now say what you like about CIF, the Mail comments seem to attract a higher grade of nutter (or spoof).

  4. By the way, the (really) interesting thing about this stuff eg the raid in which the governor was killed is that it is actually already widely known, and has been reported in esoteric outlets like Time. I can’t work out why it hasn’t been picked up more, as with the recent announcement that the US did find WMD, and lots of it, in Iraq.

    In that case the truly weird thing is that the very Bush regime which used WMD as its pretext for the war then ordered the military to hush up the WMD finds at the same time as the very same Bush regime was being widley excoriated for the (perceived) failure to find WMDs.

    Truly a head fuck.

  5. Leaving behind a ‘calling card’ is an old tradition, which frequently figures in accounts of WW1 trench raids. One that I’ve seen mentioned a couple of times in German after-action reports is a sign reading ‘Made in Germany’ (in English) placed prominently in the wreckage.

    In one amusing incident I came across while writing my book (Fighting the Kaiser’s War: The Saxons in Flanders 1914-1918), the junior officer leading one of the raiding parties brought along a caricature of a Tommy sketched on a piece of board and hung it over the entrance of one of the dug-outs his group had cleared. Another junior officer, unaware of this, saw this fine piece of ‘trench art’ hanging up and (assuming it to be of British origin) took it as a souvenir. This was only discovered once all of the raiding parties had returned to the German lines.

  6. Don’t know why it’s not available in Kindle on United States, and I don’t buy physical books anymore…

  7. What’s with the breach of neutrality thing? One of the plot points in “Das Boot” surrounds a German military vessel impounded in Spain. Or did some neutral companies let German and British warships moor up next to each other provided they both paid the fees? That would make for a fascinating story, with the officers sharing drinks and canapés, the ratings sharing fags and whores, then sailing out 12 miles and blowing chunks off each other.

  8. Interested . . . are you French?

    That’s an appalling thing to accuse someone of without proof – men have been killed in duels for less.

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