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The Special Boat Squadron (SBS) was Britain’s most exclusive Special Forces unit, similar to the US Navy SEALS. Highly trained, highly secretive and utterly ruthless, the SBS was established as an entity in its own right in early 1943, having previously operated under the auspices of the SAS during the war in North Africa.
The SBS never comprised more than 100 men; mostly former commandos of guardsmen, cherry-picked by the unit’s leader Lord George Jellicoe for their daring, initiative, and proficiency in killing Germans. The new unit was first committed to action on the islands of Crete and Sardinia, before spending much of the war fighting in the islands of the Aegean.
Led by men such as the famed Victoria Cross winner Anders Lassen, the SBS went from island to island, landing in the dead of night in small fishing boats and launching savage hit-and-run raids on the Germans. They blew up a telegraph stations, cratered airstrips, or raided the barracks of sleeping soldiers, killing them.
By the end of the war they had served in Italy, the Balkans, and mainland Greece. Following the cessation of hostilities, their deeds were airbrushed out of history. Author Gavin Mortimer, with his access to the SBS and through interviews with the surviving members of the unit, has put together their story.