This WWII memoir gives the inside story of Britain’s legendary demolition squadron and their daring escapades in Italy and Norther Africa. During the Second World War, a Russian-born emigre named Vladimir Peniakoff emerged as a decorated officer of the British Special Forces in Cairo. Code-named Popski, he started the No. 1 Demolition Squadron—known as Popski’s Private Army—charged with thwarting Field-Marshal Rommel’s fuel supply in Northern Africa. This is the story of Popski's famous fighting unit as told by his second-in-command, Captain Bob (Park) Yunnie. As Britain’s Eighth Army advanced toward Tripoli, PPA set out in jeeps across the desert to mount raids behind the Mareth Line in Southern Tunisia. In his lively and intimate account, Yunnie describes the ensuing action at Gafsa and Kasserine, and vividly depicts the sorties which took the men straight across the German Line of Command. As Tunis fell to the Allies on May, 7th, 1943, PPA began raid operations for the Italian Campaign. Dropped into Central Italy by RAF gliders, they set about blowing up strategic targets while waiting for the Allied landings. Yunnie takes command of his own patrol, and through a series of daring missions, colorful characters flit in and out of the front-line action.
In October 1942, with the sanction of the army, Vladimir Peniakoff (nicknamed Popski) formed his own elite fighting force. By befriending and enlisting desert Arabs, he was able to penetrate deep into German territory without being detected - over the next year, 'Popski's Private Army' carried out a series of raids behind the German lines that were truly spectacular. A bestseller when it was first published in 1950, POPSKI'S PRIVATE ARMY is a classic account of the war in the desert, and later in Italy, as seen through the eyes of a maverick soldier, hailed as the Second World War's answer to T.E. Lawrence.
The designation Popski's Private Army was suggested by General Sir John Hackett when he was in command of Special Forces in the Middle East in 1942. And so was born one of the colourful units for operating in enemy territory.
In October 1942, Vladimir Peniakoff (nicknamed Popski) formed his own elite fighting force in the North African desert. Over the next year ‘Popski’s Private Army’ carried out a series of daring raids behind the German lines that were truly spectacular—freeing prisoners, destroying installations, spreading alarm. This, one of the classic memoirs of the Second World War, is their story. ‘A story of adventure...which has no rival in the literature of any war.’—DAILY EXPRESS ‘This is certainly among the best of war books...splendid writing.’—THE OBSERVER ‘One of the small handful of really first-class war books. A superb story of adventure told masterfully, brilliantly.’—EVENING STANDARD ‘His courage, resourcefulness and qualities of leadership deservedly gained him a high reputation. He has now shown that he also possesses unusual literary talent.’—THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
Popskis Private Army was a special service unit led by Major Vladimir Peniakoff (Popski). Signalman Leslie (Chalky) White was taken on strength in December 1943. The aim of the unit was to collect intelligence, inflict damage on the enemy, and, therefore spread unease.PPA was one of the smallest, colourful, and most daring units ever set up to operate behind enemy lines, first in Africa, then Italy.
A history of mercenaries explores the ways in which soldiers for hire have been an essential component of modern and privatized warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, describing the myriad ways in which they are viewed in different parts of the world while offering insight into their lesser-known military activities.