Churchill's Last Wartime Secret by Adrian Searle

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Churchill's Last Wartime Secret
Author: Adrian Searle
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military Books


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Churchill’s Last Wartime Secret : The 1943 German Raid Airbrushed From History is a book by Adrian Searle which attempts to reveal the remarkable ‘truth’ regarding a German raid on an Isle of Wight radar station in 1943. Having never personally heard of this raid I was intrigued by this books claim to ‘expose the cover up that ensured it would remain a state secret for more than 70 years’. So, I did approach it rather cautiously mainly due to the fact that if this raid did in fact take place it would lead to the re-writing of our nations Second World War history.

The book is 180 pages long but is split into what I would describe as four essay studies. The first study ‘The Rumour Mill : Flaming Seas and Bodies on the Beach’ sets out to look at the rumours that perpetuated during wartime and thereafter about enemy raiding/invasion activity in Britain during World War Two paying particular attention to the Shingle Street incident. I found this section quite enjoyable to read as it definitely sets the scene for the background to the raid and also introduced me to the Shingle Street incident which I had previously never heard of.

The second study/section of the book goes into the details of the type of radar on the Isle of Wight and how it linked into the radar shield covering the south coast of England. I found this a little dry but for people interested in radar rigs, transmitters and frequency - a good knowledgeable study.

Following this we then find a section about Operation Biting which took place on the 27th/28thFebruary 1942 in Bruneval Northern France. This section details how ‘C’ Company of the British Parachute Regiment captured vital components of a Würzburg radar array and took a German radar technician back to the UK for interrogation. The reason we are guided to the Bruneval raid by the author, is to highlight that German hierarchy were aware of how a commando style raid could be done successfully. As illustrated by the British under the command of future Arnhem legend John Frost.

The final section is the bones of the book regarding the evidence that the author believes is compelling. He believes it points to a cover up over a German raid in 1943. This was what I was really looking forward to getting my teeth into and so I suspended all my preconceived thoughts about the truth behind the gripping headline of the book title and got stuck in.

Having emerged from the other side I have to say I wasn’t convinced at the ‘compelling evidence’ presented. In some cases, this evidence is provided to the author 3rd hand and there is no official acknowledgment of it ever having occurred from any reputable sources in my opinion.

With all that being said, it is not a bad book to read, if you are prepared to approach it with an open mind and a bit of a ‘War Stories for Boys’ enthusiasm. At the end of the day theories regarding failed German invasions and raids during World War Two on our small Island are ingrained in our national psyche - a leftover paranoidism from those dark days of the 1940’s.

With the publication of this book the author attempts to open the pages on what he considers a real raid that actually occurred. Pick up the book and see if you can be convinced… even though it never happened. Or did it?