Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Historically Significant WWII Documentation

Frogmen:  First Battles 

William Schofield and P. J. Carisella

Branden Books

ISBN: 0-8283-2088-8

192 Pages



Significant historical war information, reading almost like an exciting novel, has been written by William Schofield and P. J. Carisella . A “taste” of Frogmen: First Battles is immediately provided in the Foreword:


At the peak of World War II...a small band of daredevil Italian Navymen roved the Mediterranean Sea and raised devastating havoc...These were the “frogmen,” the pilots of human-torpedoes and self-exploding Eboats...a new type of warrior. (p. 5)


Loaded with fascinating pictures and explicit details, this book moves from a quick announcement by Prince Valerio Borghese of the Italian Royal Navy in Chapter 1 that New York was the target for these men. He was dining with the Commander-in-Chief of Germany’s untersee fleet. Borghese was the leader behind the activities of the Tenth Light Flotilla.


In the midst of every war, individualswho love their own country, must stop and salute the brave, patriotic, soldiers who willingly go into battle to support their respective countries.  Even those who were part of the Tenth Light Flotilla and who wondered about the decision to support the German efforts, nevertheless overcame personal questions and risked their lives over and over.


Indeed, those who were recruited and accepted assignment to this group were perhaps required to act on their own more than any other soldier fighting in WWII. For these men set out alone or with a partner to take on...Battleships! Cruisers! Destroyers! Merchant Ships! Aircraft! They invaded Gibraltar, Suda Bay, Africa, et. al., but nobody knew they were there until the frogmen were gone!


Weapons and tactics planned for Italy’s Tenth Light were started during WWI when they faced the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They wanted to invent and deploy a new weapon capable of breaking through harbor defenses. The war ended and instead of proceeding on with this important project, nothing was done during the 17 years of peace. It took Mussolini’s desire to invade Ethiopia in 1935 to nudge Prince Borghese to move forward in developing new, unforeseen weapons. From this new effort, the story of the invention, testing, training, and use of these weapons are thoroughly documented. Two men could soon approach and attack a target without ever showing themselves above the surface of the water. And then during WWII, the Tenth Light Flotilla ultimately succeeded in destroying all of Britain’s battleships!


However, instead of proceeding to move further in this direction, military authorities moved in a different direction.  This bit of historical news certainly forces readers to wonder what might have actually happened in this War if Italy had been permitted to further use these brave warriors against Britain and the United States!


Frogmen: First Battles is well written and documented coverage of a part of our WWII history.  If you are interested in history and, in particular, weapons and details on specific actions against the enemy, this book is for you!  You may have realized that this group never did attack New York...but I found it chilling just how close they were to that particular maneuver! 


Like I said at the beginning, this book reads almost as a novel.  If I were describing it as fiction, I would call it an exciting adventure story...But this was real and what I found most thrilling was the individual, personal stories about the warriors who risked their lives routinely on behalf of their country. 


A final wonderful touch to this book was a personal interview with Sergio Denti, the only remaining frogman, who was 80 at the time this book was published. Mr. Denti was not recognized with the Medal of Honor until 1993!  I enjoy these special little touches that are often added by publisher Adolph Caso (also Colonel, USAR Retired) to enhance books he publishes. He has many times illustrated his commitment and love for his heritage! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to all interested readers!


G. A. Bixler For IP Book Reviewers


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