Churchill's Folly: Leros and the Aegean
The Last Great British Defeat of World War Two
Anthony Rogers

‘Churchill’s Folly’ is a book published very recently, dealing with the British operations in the Aegean in the autumn of 1943. These are interesting both in a strategic sense, showing Churchill at his worst as an interfering politician with a difficult to understand feeling that the key to victory is in the eastern Mediterranean theatre, and in a tactical sense, because the campaign saw the last combat drop of German paratroopers in WW2.

The book is a detailed account of the fiasco that destroyed the Long Range Desert Group, and severely weakened British forces in the Mediterranean at a time when the struggle for Italy was getting underway. There is a day-by-day account of the battle for Leros, and a very detailed account of flight and naval operations in the battle.

Rogers has gone to great length with his research, finding German veterans, going through German primary sources, and trying to splice together the story giving equal weight to both sides. That he could walk the ground on a Greek holiday island must have been a bonus.

The book has some great, previously unpublished pictures, and a good array of maps. In the appendix there are various primary documents, and the whole book is superbly documented and annotated. In my opinion it is a shining example of how battles should be researched – balancing veteran accounts, primary sources, and secondary sources, with a good understanding of the lay of the land. What is particularly interesting is his attempt to confirm claims for downed aircraft from the opposing side’s war diaries.

This book is a must read for anyone interested in Commonwealth WW2 history.

(Reviewed by Andreas Biermann)

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