Category Archives: True War Stories

A Hero Of France

A Hero Of France by Alan Furst is a novel of the dark days of France in the winter of 1941, when the Nazis controlled Europe  and the Allies were losing the war.  Mathieu is a leader in the French Resistance, trying to help downed British pilots escape back to England.

A Hero Of France by Alan Furst

A Hero Of France by Alan Furst

A Hero of France is the latest in a series of novels by Alan Furst about the French  Resistance. Although the characters are fictional, the facts about the war and the Resistance are well documented. The bravery of the French resistance is truly remarkable.

Hitler in Paris 1940

Hitler in Paris 1940

A Hero Of France shows how the people in the French Resistance were not young trained soldiers, which makes their bravely more remarkable.  Before the war Mathieu owed a small newspaper. Now in German Occupied Paris, his resistance cell consists of people he hopes the Nazis will not suspect as a threat. His Resistance “organization” consists of an elderly professor, a young high school girl, a bar owner, a woman who sells religious statues and an assortment of petty criminals. This is the group that has to try to outsmart German Military Intelligence, French Police, and various French paid informers.

Germany captures Paris while The United States remains neutral

Germany captures Paris while The United States remains neutral

Most people today have the wrong impression of French Resistance “fighters”. In fact, fighting was not the primary function of the French Resistance, for the simple reason that it was suicidal. The Nazis had a brutal system of reprisals. If any German soldier was killed in Occupied Paris, the Germans would immediately gather a minimum of 10 random French citizens and execute them.

Alan Furst, Author of A Hero Of France

Alan Furst, Author of A Hero Of France

A Hero Of France shows what the French Resistance really did in World War II. They saved downed airmen, hid escaped Allied POWs, and gathered intelligence about German troop movements.  Much of this was directed from London by British Intelligence, with which the French Resistance groups had a very tense relationship. On the one hand the French needed the supplies and money the British provided. On the other hand, it was quite obvious that British Intelligence considered the French Resistance groups as expendable commodities.

French woman with German soldier. Maybe she is a collaborator, maybe she is a spy working for the French Resistance

French woman with German soldier. Maybe she is a collaborator, maybe she is a spy working for the French Resistance

The British view was that if the French Resistance could be of help to the war that was good, but if French people got killed in the process it was no big loss. After all they were not “real” soldiers anyway.  However, Mathieu does care about the people in the group. He wants the Allies to win the war, but he also wants all the people in his Resistance cell to still be alive when that happens.

A Hero Of France is an excellent novel and we highly recommend it. It is a tribute the small group of civilians who stood alone in France against the might of the Nazis, while Americans stayed neutral and safe an ocean away.

 

 

Rogue Heroes – a fascinating book about the SAS in World War II

Rogue Heroes by Ben MacIntyre is a fascinating story  of the British unit in World War II which created an entirely new way of fighting the Nazis. It reads more like an action novel than a history book, except that all the characters and action sequences really happened.

The SAS (Strategic Air Service) was the brainchild of David Sterling, a young British Lieutenant who was more known for his  parties, drinking  and lack of discipline than his military skills. He felt that the middle ranks of the British Army had no imagination whatsoever, and were still trying to use tactics from World War I.

Jock McDiarmid and his SAS team o a raid in the North African desert

Jock McDiarmid and his SAS team o a raid in the North African desert

Lieutenant Sterling envisioned a small group of highly trained soldiers which would  strike the German air bases in North Africa using hit-and-run guerrilla  tactics. This concept may seem common-place on today’s battlefields, but at the outset of World War II, this was a brand-new concept. At the time, commanders were still relying solely on full scale frontal assaults.  As a result, the traditional Army men were very hostel  to Sterling’s concepts.

Author Ben MacIntyre (left) & SAS founder David Stirling (right)

Author Ben MacIntyre (left) & SAS founder David Stirling (right)

In fact, Sterling probably never would have gotten a chance to try out his ideas, except for one thing. David Sterling came from a very upper class British family, and in those days, class was still  important- even in the Army. Sterling got invited to dinners with various high ranking officers, where he used the opportunity to present his plan to command generals. He was able to skip the middle-rank bureaucracy which normally would have prevented any general from seeing such a wild scheme.

The SAS in World War II

The SAS in World War II

At the time, the war was not going well for the British in North Africa. Rommel was beating back the British forces and it looked like the Germans would soon drive the British out entirely. The British generals sanctioned the SAS and gave Sterling men and equipment. The British high command did not really think the idea would work, but at this point they were willing to try anything that could possibly hurt Rommel. If the SAS  worked it would be great. If it did not, then the few men lost (killed) was very considered very minor.

The SAS did succeed beyond everyone’s wildest dreams.  The men worked in small teams that lived far out in the desert. The Germans were not expecting attacks to come from the desert since they did not think it was possible for any troops to stay in the desert for long periods of time.

With small teams of men, the SAS was able to sneak onto the German airfields and plant bombs on planes. Over the course of a few months, the SAS has destroyed hundreds of aircraft.

Rogue Heroes gives fascinating details. For example the very name “SAS” had started out as the name of a fictitious unit, long before there was an actual group. A British intelligence officer had been giving the task of creating false intelligence reports to confuse the Germans. He came up with the impressive sounding  name “Strategic Air Services”, and started rumors that this was a gigantic force which would be parachuting in to attack Rommel’s men. This larger than life fictitious unit existed long before there were any real soldiers to go along with it. Throughout the war British Intelligence continued to create false reports to make the SAS appear many times larger than it really was.

In fact,  the psychological impact of the SAS on the German troops was one of the main successes of the group.  The SAS hit and run tactics behind German lines made the German troops worry that they were never safe no matter where they were.

When the war in North Africa was won, the SAS moved to Europe and continued its work. This is where the war became even nastier.  They were so successful that Hitler himself had taken notice of them. He issued his infamous “Commando Order”. This directed that anyone found operating behind German front lines was to be immediately executed, even if in uniform and surrendering. In addition, the Gestapo carried out reprisal executions of French civilians every time there was an SAS raid.

There is one shameful period in SAS history that Ben MacIntyre left out of the book. In the 1970s-1980s the British used the SAS in Northern Ireland as murder squads to kill members of the IRA without trial. On the one hand, the British claimed that all people in Northern Ireland were British citizens. However, the SAS was given instructions to “shoot on sight” any leaders of the IRA even if they were unarmed. No capture or trial. On other occasions, the SAS did not do the killings itself, but provided intelligence to Ulster Loyalists who then carried out attacks on Catholic civilians. Even today, this period of SAS history has been conveniently swept under the rug.

Ben MacIntyre is an excellent writer, and makes history come alive. He focuses on the individual men of the SAS and we get to know these unique personalities on a first name basis.  Of course, this makes parts of Rogue Heroes very sad. War is not a game, and a high percentage of SAS men were killed due to the large amount of combat they were in.  Rogue Heroes is a real tribute to these men. It has the respect to treat these men not as superhuman, but as real people who made extraordinary sacrifices.

We highly recommend Rogue Heroes, and hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

 

 

 

Did The CIA Plan Turkey’s Coup? – 5 Reasons Why that Theory Might Be True

Most Turks now believe that America’s CIA planned and helped stage the failed coup in Turkey. Americans, of course, think this theory is ridiculous. However, here are 5 reasons why the CIA might have planned the coup in Turkey.

  • The CIA has a long history of toppling foreign  leaders. Take a look at Vietnam,  South America, and Cuba’s Bay Of Pigs Invasion, and it is obvious that the United States is not shy about using the CIA to get rid of leaders it does not like.
Did the CIA plan the Turkish Coup?

Did the CIA plan the Turkish Coup?

  • President  Tayyip Erdogan has been working against U.S. efforts to fight ISIS. The United States has been very happy with the success the Kurds have been having against ISIS. The U.S. has been funding, training and supplying weapons to Kusdish groups to fight ISIS.  At the same time. President Erdogan has been ordering air strikes and military attacks against the same Kurdish groups the U.S. is funding. Erdogan considers them terrorists and does not want the Kurds to establish a Kurdish state on the Turkish border.
Female Kurdish fighters celebrate victory against ISIS

Female Kurdish fighters celebrate victory against ISIS

  • With only a few months left in office, Barack Obama needed to move now to get rid of Erdogan. Whoever the next U.S. president is, he or she might not agree with the idea of a coup against Erdogan. Since the CIA had Obama’s blessing, it needed to move now before the U.S. election.
Putin and Erdogan friends again. Is this why the CIA potted to remove Erdogan?

Putin and Erdogan friends again. Is this why the CIA potted to remove Erdogan?

  • The U.S. was nervous about an alliance between Erdogan and Putin. Having Turkey and Russia as enemies is the “natural order” as far as the United States is concerned. This helps U.S. interests and keeps Turkey in NATO. However, recently there has be a rapprochement between Putin and Erdogan. When we started seeing  pictures of Erdogan and Putin shaking hands and acting like buddies, the CIA decided to move ahead with coup plans.
  • If Fethulla Gulen was behind the coup, he would have needed CIA help to contact groups in Turkey. Fethulla Gulen lives on an estate in rural Pennsylvania which is constantly monitored by U.S. security agencies. There is no way he could have gotten any messages to Turkey without U.S.  help.

It may be years or even decades before we know what really happened in Turkey. Many believe that the entire coup was a fake staged by Erdogan. Certainly Erdogan went into the coup a weak leader and came out of it a dictator.  Maybe the world will never know what really happened  or who was behind it.  As United States Senator Hiram Johnson said in 1918, “the first casualty when war comes is truth.”

Was Turkey’s Coup A Fake? 4 Reasons it looks like a fake.

Was there ever really a coup in Turkey, or was it a Wag The Dog scenario, in which President Tayyip Erdogan staged a fake coup for his own political purposes.  Here are 4 reasons it looks like a fake:

  • The Coup did not capture President Tayyip Erdogan. In fact, Erdogan he was on vacation in the seaside Turkish resort of Marmaris at the time of the coup.  Throughout the world, rule number 1 in any coup is to capture or kill the leader you are trying to dispose.  Security at Erdogan would have been lower than in Ankara, yet the coup was unable to get Erdogan.
Seaside villa in Marmaris Turkey where President Erdogan was during the coup

Seaside villa in Marmaris Turkey where President Erdogan was during the coup

  • Erdogan claims that Fethulla Gulen somehow orchestrated the coup from rural Pennsylvania. This is a ridiculous claim which no one believes. Although Fetulla Gulen is living a private life in the United States, there is no doubt that his communications are being monitored by the FBI and the NSA. There is no way he would have been able to coordinate with the Turkish military without the United States finding out abut it. Erdogan is using the failed coup as an attempt to extradite Fetulla Gulen to Turkey, where he no doubt would be imprisoned and possibly executed.
Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania September 24, 2013. Born in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Gulen built up his reputation as a Muslim preacher with intense sermons that often moved him to tears. From his base in Izmir, he toured Turkey stressing the need to embrace scientific progress, shun radicalism and build bridges to the West and other faiths. The first Gulen school opened in 1982. In the following decades, the movement became a spectacular success, setting up hundreds of schools that turned out generations of capable graduates, who gravitated to influential jobs in the judiciary, police, media, state bureaucracy and private business. Picture taken September 24, 2013. To match Insight TURKEY-ERDOGAN/GULEN REUTERS/Selahattin Sevi/Zaman Daily via Cihan News Agency (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. TURKEY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN TURKEY - RTX188UQ

Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania

  • Only “Pawns” died in the coup. Brave civilians and some soldiers died in the coup, but there were no mass killings of top government officials. Rule number 2 of any coup is to capture or kill all the top officials who are loyal to the leader you are trying to dispose.
Turkish soldiers accused of participating in coup

Turkish soldiers accused of participating in coup

  • Erdogan immediately used the coup to make himself a dictator. The speed with which he rounded up and imprisoned 60,000 “supporters” of the coup made many in Turkey believe that these lists were already prepared.

 

Turkish soldier being beaten by civilians

Turkish soldier being beaten by civilians

So was the coup real or did Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan plan it all? Maybe he is just a strongman taking advantage of the coup to consolidate his power.  On the other hand, maybe Erdogan is a chess-master who sacrificed Turkish civilians and military conscripts to make the ultimate power grab.

Whatever the truth, the people in Turkey deserve better. They want real democracy and for a brief time they thought that is what they had from President Erdogan. Unfortunately he had other plans.