Books

TSFC websitepicTales from the Special Forces Club

A unique and poignant record of a club created for heroes.

There are just a small number of men and women alive today who served in the special forces during the Second World War, and most are members of the Special Forces Club in London.

The Club was created at the end of the Second World War so that those who served in units such as the SAS, the Long Range Desert Group, the Special Operations Executive and Popski’s Private Army, could relax and reminisce amongst friends and colleagues. For years their tales of derring-do remained secret – until now.

My book tells the story, through their own words, of 10 members of the club who are all still alive today. The Special Forces Club closely guards its secret and in order to write this book I had to become a member.

These heroic tales include those of soldiers such as Captain John Campbell, MC and Bar and the last surviving officer of ‘Popski’s Private Army’, whose triumph over being wrongly labelled a coward led him to serve with distinction and bravery behind the lines in Italy. Also amongst those recalling their war-time tales is the story of Noreen Riols, who worked under the legendary Colonel Maurice Buckmaster of the Special Operations Executive. Noreen helped train operatives in the art of counter-espionage and counter-surveillance. Then there is Mike Sadler, who served in the LRDG and later with the SAS taking part in an attack on a German airfield near el-Alamein in 1942 in which 34 aircraft were destroyed. Harry Verlander, who served with the legendary Jedburghs, a highly secret element of the Special Operations Executive, recalls his service during D-Day and subsequent operations in Burma. The book covers all theatres of operations and provides a unique glimpse into why the members of the Special Forces Club are truly exceptional.

Reviews

Rayment uncovers astonishing depths of courage and resourcefulness.

Sarah Sands, Evening Standard

Sean Rayment has gathered wartime experiences that have an extra resonance. For his veterans served in the Special Forces … [a] brilliant and often deeply moving book.

Sinclair McKay, Sunday Telegraph

An outstanding book offering a vital insight into the wartime adventures of that small community of Britain’s war heroes who rarely speak publicly.

Chris Hughes, Daily Mirror

A cracking read, couldn’t put it down.

Neil Chandler, Daily Star Sunday

The overall impression created is of almost unimaginable heroism … it presents us with page after page of extraordinary courage.

Daily Mail

BombHuntersPB-2Bomb Hunters

Afghanistan is just like Iraq – hot, dusty and full of people who want to kill you

Staff Sergeant Simon Fuller, Royal Engineer Search Advisor.

In 2010, I became the first British newspaper journalist to be embedded with an Army bomb disposal team in Afghanistan. These extraordinarily brave men and women are the Bomb Hunters.

My book tells their story and the fight against the deadly Improvised Explosive Device – the weapon of choice for the Taliban. Hard to detect and easy to trigger, the IED is the ultimate psychological weapon.

Bomb Hunters work in 50-degree heat as they take the ‘long walk’ into the kill zone, defusing as many as 15 bombs a day. Skill, cold courage and inevitably pure luck play a huge part in the survival of these men and as the British public have already seen – a single lapse of concentration can result in instant death.

This book is not an easy read. The soldiers I interviewed spoke from the heart, graphically describing the effect an IED can have on the human body. They talk about the war, the politicians and generals who sent them into battle and how they deal with the relentless pressure of operating in the centre of the world’s most hostile combat environment.

Reviews

A vivid and absorbing portrayal of a unique and dedicated group of soldiers.

General Sir Mike Jackson, formerly Chief of the General Staff

[a] scintillating book

Short List

This is a powerful piece of reportage

The Financial Times

The great merit of Bomb Hunters, Sean Rayment’s study of the British bomb disposal units in Afghanistan, is that it lets us hear the true voice of the soldier.

The Financial Times

Bomb Hunters is highly recommended

The Daily Star

(the book)…amply demonstrate(s) why we should be just as interested in Afghanistan as ever… it is no longer enough merely to depict action for action’s sake – now the action must be there for a reason.

The Telegraph

The authentic voice of the British soldier is irresistible: unforgettably funny, realistic and brave. One in 10 soldiers are killed or injured in Afghanistan.

London Evening Standard

In Bomb Hunters, ex-paratrooper-turned-war-correspondent Sean Rayment joins some of the Army’s top Ammunition Technical Officers (ATOs) on tour to find out what their daily life is like, and how they deal with the stresses of undertaking such dangerous work.

Legion magazine