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The East Surreys were in near continuous action from November 1942, when they landed in North Africa (Operation TORCH) through to the end of hostilities in May 1945. During these three years of bitter fighting they cleared the Germans from Tunisia, took part in Operation HUSKY, (the invasion of Sicily) and fought up through Italy as far as the River Po.
Trained as mountain troops, the East Surreys saw set piece and patrol action in the Atlas Mountains, on the slopes of Mount Etna and Monte Cassino, and in the countless unforgiving hills and valleys of the Apennines. They were called upon to cross many rivers, often opposed by a determined enemy, culminating in the River Po with its vast waterlogged valley.
Veterans' graphic personal accounts describe the hardship and action and vividly illustrate the magnitude of the East Surreys' task.
Of special interest is the part played by Lieutenant John Woodhouse who commanded the Surreys' Battle Patrol. His experiences during this period were to be invaluable when, during the 1950s and 1960s, it fell to him to revitalise special forces' training and tactics for the SAS in Malaya and Arabia. Indeed he is widely credited with saving the post-war SAS when in grave danger of being disbanded.
This superbly researched record of the East Surreys' contribution demonstrates how a single battalion can make a huge difference.
It is more than a regimental history as it gives the reader a real feel for the campaigns involved, particularly the gruelling and costly slog up Italy which has been too often neglected.
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