THE SBS in World War II
An Illustrated History


By Gavin Mortimer

Most World War II “Buffs” have heard of the exploits of the SAS and The Long Range Desert Patrol in Africa during the fighting against Italian and German forces in North Africa, but few know anything about the Special Boat Squadron. The SBS was an offshoot of the SAS organized in late 1942, which operated amongst the islands of the Eastern Mediterranean. This book gives a lively history of the operations of the SAS and its kindred groups in an area of World War II, that many histories ignore.

In October 1942, a new organization of the Commando units in the Eastern Mediterranean was proposed to General Harold Alexander by his chief of staff, General McCreery. This proposal was to expand the “L” Detachment of the SAS into a regimental sized unit encompassing the detachment, the Special Raiding Squadron, Special Boat Section, the French SAS Squadron, the Greek Sacred Squadron and the Folboat Section. The Folboat section was a commando unit that utilized folding canvas boats in their raids.

After this regiment was established, and further shake-outs occurred, they went on to begin making raids among the Greek islands of the Eastern med and the Aegean. While these raids were mostly of the “pin-prick” variety, they caused the Germans and Italians to station valuable troops on these isles to keep them out of British hands.

One of the big concerns of the German authorities was to keep the British and Greeks from establishing bases on these small islands to be used as an invasion point for the Greek mainland. While raids were conducted over the course of the war, the islands were not occupied by SBS, but valuable communication stations and supply dumps were destroyed keeping the Germans off balance.

At one point the Germans sent out landing parties to garrison these small islands because of the efforts of the SBS and their brethren. As typical of the British Commando organizations, the soldiers who volunteered for these groups were the misfits of the British regular services. Men who were labeled as malcontents and those who just “didn’t fit in”. This “devil may care” attitude made them just the right people to populate such a group.

I enjoyed this book immensely and learned a considerable amount about an area of WWII that is considered a “back water” of the war. I can recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the lesser known parts of the war, or just anyone who wants to read about a group of men who went into “harm’s way” on their own terms.

This book is available from Osprey Publications.

This book is available in three different formats and they are;

Hardback Book


ePub eBook


PDF eBook