Every major military in the world has its special operations forces like the American Navy SEALs, Army Rangers and Special Forces and British SAS. It is not widely know outside these elite units that the first special operations force originated during WWII with the Italian Navy. Their Decima MAS unit pioneered the concept of small, specially trained units that did damage to their enemies far beyond their size.
At the beginning of World War II, Prince Junio Valerio Borghese, dashing Italian nobleman, assembled the famous Decima MAS naval unit- the first modern naval commando squad. Borghese's "frogmen" were trained to fight undercover and underwater with small submarines and assault boats armed with a variety of destructive torpedoes. The covert tactics he and the Decima MAS developed, including the use of midget submarines, secret night-time operations, and small teams armed with explosives, have become a standard for special forces around the world to this very day. It was also this elite Italian unit that carried out one of the most disturbing surprise attacks experienced by the British during World War II by sinking or neutralizing over a quarter of a million tons of their ships. Most of these ships belonged to the Royal Navy, including the Queen Elizabeth, Valiant, York, and Durham.
In every case these ships suffered at the hands of human torpedoes, incredible courageous and tenacious men of the Italian Navy, the first to use and develop frogmen techniques, human torpedoes, and explosive boats. Their story is told by the men who commanded them and joined them in many of their desperate exploits. The success of these men in attacks on Gibralter, Algeciras, Alexandretta, Algiers, Alexandria, and others, caused Winston Churchill to express his gravest concern at a secret Cabinet meeting in April 1943.
Blending his accounts with those of his men, Borghese offers valuable insight into both the successes and failures of the Italian Sea Devils in a style worthy of the best writers of suspense and intrigue. This is a fascinating account detailing one of World War II's fiercest but often neglected units by English-speaking historians. From the detailed insights given into this formidable Italian fighting unit as well as first-hand accounts into the political and logistical challenges that the Italian commandos faced during its involvement in the war, the reader can finally learn about the many episodes of Italian victories which never made it into English print.
Publisher: Naval Institute Press
Number of pages: 290
Weight: 363 g
Dimensions: 209 x 140 x 23 mm