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Hard Nosed Folks Both Good & Bad Leadership of the highest kind


Commonly known as the father of the modern U.S. Marine Corps sniper program, former NRA Secretary and retired USMC Major Edward James “Jim” Land Jr. has had a life full of significant accomplishments, challenges
and change.

Edward James Land, Jr. was born in 1935 and was raised on a farm in Lincoln, Nebraska. Land graduated at 17 from high school in 1953. He had a full scholarship to the University of Nebraska Agricultural College because of his work on his family farm with soil conservation. “Most of the time when we sat down for a meal, the only thing at the table that didn’t come off the farm was salt and pepper,” said Land. A few days after he graduated high school, Land changed course and enlisted in The Marine Corps.

Planning on serving his country and then using the GI Bill, Land was transferred to Marine Barracks 8th & I which is where he met his wife. They were married and welcomed a daughter while stationed there. Somewhere along the way he changed his plans and wanted to become a Marine Corps officer. He started taking college courses and reenlisted for recruit training to become a Drill Instructor (DI). In 1957, Land went to Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego for Drill Instructor School and upon completion of their 9-week school became a DI. After 22 months Land was selected for Officer Candidate School (OCS).

Land was raised on a rural farm in Nebraska and is pictured here as a young boy with two of his farm dogs .

After 12 weeks of training at OCS, located at Marine Base Quantico, Land was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. He had 9 months of training at The Basic School (TBS) and was transferred to the 4th Marine Regiment in Hawaii. After being a platoon commander at Marine Corps Base Hawaii for a year, Land began to grow restless. “Mrs. Land pointed out that I had achieved my goal to become an officer. She said ‘You need a new goal, that’s your problem.’” Land said it made a lot of sense to him since he had always had goals to aspire towards, so he set a new one. To get his college degree.

Land was scheduled to go to Marine Corps Reconnaissance Company that was attached to the Brigade in Hawaii. Before joining Recon Company, he had orders to Panama for Jungle Warfare School. Ten days before his departure, Land was informed by his battalion commander that his orders had been canceled and he was now going to Division Matches. “I had no idea what the division matches were, and I had never shot competitively,” said Land. They won the Pacific Division Match Team Championship his first competition. He was then selected to join the FAF PAC Rifle & Pistol team.

General Leonard E. Fribourg, presents Maj. Gen. W.P.T. Hill mess award trophy to Major Edward J. “Jim” Land, Jr. of Weapons Training Battalion.

Land worked with CWO Arthur Terry to found the Corps’ first modern sniper course. “We decided you can only give the commanding general so many pot medal trophies…we needed to provide a service,” said Land.
“So we were trying to find something that could provide a service.” Land got the idea from an Army shooter who attended a Canadian sniper school. “So that got me started on the sniper business.”

“My mom used to have a saying ‘If you want to hear God laugh just tell him your plans.’ Because I was going in one direction and he took me somewhere else,” said Land.

Land went to Vietnam as Officer in Charge (OIC) of the 1st Marine Division Sniper Teams. It was in Vietnam that he was the Commanding Officer of legendary Marine Corps sniper, Carlos Hathcock.

Land in Vietnam

After his time in Vietnam, Land was Inspector-Instructor (I&I) for a reserve unit. In 1973 he was sent back to Washington, DC, this time to Headquarters Marine Corps Henderson Hall to be a briefing officer for the Commandant. Due to the high-stress environment of the position, briefing officers were only given a 6-month billet. Land was then assigned as the Marksmanship Coordinator for the Marine Corps, making him responsible for all the marksmanship training across the Corps. Unfortunately, the sniper program had been canceled in 1972. Through his efforts and the help of several fellow Marines, Land managed to get the sniper program started again.

Land was able to reestablish the MOS (military occupational specialty), got the table of organization (TO) and the table of equipment (TE). And finally, the Commandant approved the first permanent Marine Corps Scout Sniper School in Quantico, Virginia. It is still in full operation today.

“The good Lord gave me the contacts that helped me make this possible,” said Land. “I had no idea how to function at that high level of bureaucracy of the Marine Corps. I had many help and guide me along the way.”

When Land retired from the Marine Corps in 1977, he had finally achieved his goal that was set back in Hawaii. He graduated with a Bachelor of Political Science from George Washington University in 1976 and upon his retirement he found himself unemployed and again, without a goal. 6 days later he was hired by the National Rifle Association (NRA), and he would start the second career path that would lead him to be the Secretary of the NRA for 21 years.

Land at a charity bird hunt for Semper K9 Assistance Dogs in Hustle, Va.

In 2015, at the age of 80, he retired from the NRA after being there for 31 years. Shortly after his retirement, his wife of 60 years passed away. “When I was on I&I duty in 1976, I was a Casualty Assistance Officer,” said Land. “I knocked on 211 doors for casualty notifications to families, and one of the things I always told them was not to make any major decisions for at least a year.” He took that advice after his wife, Elly, passed and tried to come up with a new plan.

He purchased a small farm in rural Virginia that he says was “the only thing that kept me going at the time.”

Land starts each day as he always has, with his “plan of the day.” He works on projects out at the farm, hunts and encourages other veterans, many of them his former Marines, to continue living life to the fullest. He has a bucket list of items that he checks off as he completes them and has no plans of slowing down.

Also on his list of projects are motivational sayings that he has come up with and used over the years:
“Establish your priorities and get to work.”
“Nothing will work unless you do.”
“Done is better than perfect.”

He looks at this every day to keep him on track and encourages others to do the same.

Not too bad for a “friendly drill instructor.”


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The Curious Origins of the Ghillie Suit by WILL DABBS

This scumbag guy becomes eligible for release from prison in 2038.

In May of 2017, a father of three named Troy Johnson donned a ghillie suit and stalked a 12-year-old girl as she was heading to school in New South Wales, Australia. The 31-year-old abducted, subdued, gagged, and raped the child. Police searched his home and seized several items of evidence that supported the resulting charges. There were allegations of other assaults and attempted assaults as well. This freaking loser supposedly suffered some kind of medical episode after his arrest and was subsequently hospitalized. He appeared in the Wyong Local Court after his discharge and was ultimately sentenced to 28 years in prison.

Behold the face of the monster.

I struggle to comprehend what could drive a person to do something like that. Not meaning to sound uncharitable, but whatever his “medical episode” was, I can only hope it was something fairly agonizing. Most anything involving a power drill, a propane torch, or an intractable intestinal blockage would be OK with me. What makes this whole sordid tale pertinent to today’s discussion, however, was his attire. The ghillie suit has a long and fascinating military history.

Origin Story

The Gille Gubh was some sort of primitive Scottish forest spirit.

Gille is a Scots Gaelic term that describes a young man who works outdoors. Gille Dubh translates to “Black-Haired Youth” or “Dark-Haired Lad.” The Gille Gubh is some kind of bizarre earth spirit adorned in moss and leaves that figures prominently in Scottish mythology. The general understanding is that ghillie is a poorly-translated version of this term.

The yowie is the Australian version of our own Sasquatch. I find this image surprisingly disquieting.

Our Australian comrades call their ghillies “yowie suits.” This is a reference to the yowie, a mythical aboriginal creature akin to the Sasquatch. While there are a dozen or more local names for this thing, they all describe a hairy ape-like hominid that stands and walks upright. I rather suspect the yowie accounts for more than a little lost sleep among Australian children.

Factory-made ghillie suits will reliably transform a human being into a big pile of sphagnum moss. This one sells on Amazon.

The ghillie suit is simply a camouflage outfit designed to meld a sniper into the background vegetation and leave him essentially invisible on the battlefield. In years past, ghillie suits were handmade as part of sniper training. Traditionally, this involved sewing strips of burlap of various colors onto an old camouflage uniform until the end result was adequately leafy and bulky.

The original Lovat Scouts were formed from a cadre of skilled woodsmen.

The first recorded use of the ghillie suit in combat was by the Lovat Scouts during the Second Boer War. This Scottish Highland Regiment was mustered by Simon Fraser, the 14th Lord Lovat. The first batch of troops for this motley band was drawn from gamekeepers, professional stalkers, and similar men of the earth who toiled on Scottish estates.

The Lovat Scouts established a well-deserved reputation for effectiveness in combat.

The Lovat Scouts were initially commanded by the Honorable Andrew David Murray with Lord Lovat as 2IC. After 17 months in action, Murray was killed and Lord Lovat took command at age 29. He served until the end of the war in 1902.

Changes to warfare at the dawn of the 20th century were fairly transformational. These 1900-era Lovat Scouts look like a fairly manly group of guys.

At the dawn of the 20th century military tacticians were still trying to define themselves in the age of long-range repeating rifles, high explosives, smokeless powder, and belt-fed machineguns. In the Lovat Scouts we find soldiers well informed in fieldcraft and marksmanship. When combined with some innovative leadership these rugged men ultimately changed the way wars were fought.

The Black Watch was a legendary Scottish combat unit.

The Lovat Scouts were attached for a time to the Black Watch, but that relationship ended in the summer of 1901. A year later the Lovat Scouts returned to England and were disbanded. With chaos on the horizon in Europe, the Lovat Scouts were reformed in 1903 as two regiments. From these troops were drawn a group of dedicated sharpshooters that became the British Army’s first operational battlefield sniper unit. The unit was dissolved and reconstituted another time or two before finally finding itself deployed as two separate regiments in September of 1915 to Gallipoli.

The First War to End All Wars

These WW1-era Commonwealth snipers were armed with a variety of precision rifles, most of which sported offset optics.

The WW1-era Lovat Scouts Sharpshooters were formed into ten platoons. Each platoon was led by a commissioned platoon leader and consisted of 21 soldiers and NCOs. That first sniper unit totaled 220 specially-trained men. In a fairly prescient bit if tactical acumen, each platoon was subsequently attached to a particular Army Corps to be tasked out to subordinate units as needed.

The Lovat Sharpshooters were skilled at collecting tactical intelligence.

These sharpshooters were indeed renowned for their facility behind a rifle. Their weapons were typically variations of the standard-issue Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) that equipped most of the British Army. The SMLE was itself exceptionally capable for its day. However, it wasn’t necessarily their facility as snipers that so endeared the Lovat sharpshooters to their supported units.

Early ghillie suits were improvised affairs.

These early snipers were highly esteemed for their covert intelligence-gathering skills. On a battlefield bereft of drones and spy satellites, the accurate establishment of enemy locations and dispositions made the difference between success and failure. While using little more than 20-power spotting scopes these skilled warriors could offer great detail on enemy movements within ten miles and still offer reliable insights out to twenty. Major Vernon Hesketh Prichard, a legendary soldier and adventurer whose story we will no doubt explore eventually in this venue, was quoted as having said of the Lovat sharpshooters, “Keener men never lived…if they reported a thing, the thing was as they reported it.”

The Guns

The SMLE is a capable bolt-action infantry rifle. The addition of a low power optical sight optimized the long-range effectiveness of these weapons.

When faced with the prospects of protracted trench warfare, the British set out to equip their sharpshooters with precision rifles worthy of their mission. At first, these dedicated marksmen were equipped with a motley array of repurposed scoped hunting weapons. However, by 1915 the British government began mounting 3x and 4x scopes atop SMLE and P14 Enfield rifles. During the course of the war roughly 10,000 rifles were thusly converted. The optics on these weapons were not standardized until 1918.

These awkward offset scope mounts were designed to allow access to the stripper clip guide. This optic is built by the Periscopic Prism Company.

Though the SMLE fed from a detachable 10-round box magazine, most loading was still undertaken by stripper clips from the top. As a result, early scopes featured offset mounts to allow access to the rifle’s action from above. Later versions were center-mounted to facilitate a more effective cheek weld. These weapons had to be either loaded from the bottom using magazines or loaded from the top one round at a time. A skilled rifleman was expected to fire between 20 and 30 aimed shots per minute.

The SMLE was a popular British infantry rifle.

The Short Magazine Lee-Enfield Mk I was first introduced in January of 1904. The SMLE’s 25.2-inch barrel represented the sweet spot halfway between that of the original Lee-Enfield rifle and the carbine version. The SMLE was distinguishable at a glance by the stubby little bayonet boss protruding just below the muzzle. The subsequent WW2-era Mk IV sported a small length of barrel at the nose. The definitive WW1 version of the rifle was the slightly-modified Mk III introduced in 1907. British Tommies affectionately referred to the SMLE as the “Smelly.”

The Suit

It is amazing how the guys in these staged wartime photos always look so happy. They seem to be saying, “Hot dog! Another fetid miserable day of crawling around in filth trying not to get our heads blown off.” These are WW2-era snipers armed with Lee-Enfield No4 Mk I (T) rifles.

The basic ghillie suit changed very little for nearly a century. If properly executed such a contrivance was almost unnaturally effective. However, those traditional burlap ghillies had their downsides.

A traditional ghillie suit burns easily. Apparently, this one also attracts snakes.

Frayed burlap is notoriously flammable. On a battlefield contaminated with such vile stuff as white phosphorus, incendiary rounds, smoke grenades, and similar pyrotechnics the ghillie suit can be a simply epic fire hazard. Two snipers assigned to the 11th ACR burned to death during combat operations in Iraq when their ghillie suits were set ablaze. Additionally, burlap soaks up moisture like a sponge. Once a burlap ghillie suit gets wet it becomes unnaturally heavy. Wet burlap close to the skin for long periods in cool climes can precipitate hypothermia as well.

Thermal imagers cut through battlefield concealment day or night.

Modern sensors rely upon thermal detectors and IR imagers that can significantly degrade the effectiveness of traditional visual camouflage. While a generation ago such gear had to be mounted in the nose of an attack helicopter and cost as much as my hometown, nowadays thermal sights of surprising effectiveness are within financial reach of your typical middle-class pig hunter. As regards thermal technology, with each passing year the prices go down and the capabilities go up. Traditional ghillie suits don’t do much to conceal a person’s thermal signature.

A ghillie suit collects sticks and battlefield debris like lawyers attract money.

While this might not seem like a big deal, a ghillie suit also attracts burrs and twigs like some kind of magnet. Once you’ve rolled around in the brush in one of these things for a while it becomes a gigantic mass of prickly crap. Most normal people wouldn’t care, but it’s impossible to keep a field-worn ghillie suit tidy.

The Next Generation

The latest US Army ghillie suit is safer and more effective than previous versions.

We Americans have a well-earned reputation for smothering our problems in science and technology. In 2007 the US Army Soldier Systems Center undertook a program to develop an enhanced ghillie suit material. Where burlap or jute had all those detriments described earlier, this new stuff was purportedly water-repellent and fire-resistant. After extensive field testing at the Sniper School at Fort Benning, this new material was incorporated into the FRGS (Flame Resistant Ghillie System). Testing began in 2018 on the IGS (Improved Ghillie System), a modular design intended to be even safer, more comfortable, and more effective.

The ghillie suit is a critical component of modern sniper operations.

Though they have really changed very little over the past century, the ghillie suit remains an integral part of the modern sniper’s kit. Wherever men institutionally kill each other there will be precision marksmen decked out in fluffy earth tones creeping about in the brush visiting death upon their enemies. Born in South Africa in the late 19th century, the ghillie suit remains a timeless sniper tool even today.

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Silent Warriors: The SBS in World War Two by Saul David (Some very scary folks)

Saul David has written a new authorised history of the SBS and has uncovered some of the most extraordinary stories of World War Two.

Silent Warriors

Britain’s SBS – or Special Boat Service – was the world’s first maritime special operations unit. Founded in the dark days of 1940, the SBS started as a small and inexperienced outfit that leaned heavily on volunteers’ raw courage and boyish enthusiasm. It went on to change the course of the Second World War – and has served as a model for special forces ever since.

The fledgling unit’s first mission was a daring beach reconnaissance of Rhodes in the spring of 1941. Over the next four years, the SBS would carry out many more spectacular operations in the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the Channel and the Far East. These missions – including Operation Frankton, the daredevil attempt by the “Cockleshell Heroes” to paddle up the Gironde River, deep behind enemy lines, and sink Axis ships in Bordeaux harbour – were some of the most audacious and legendary of the war. 

Paddling flimsy canoes, and armed only with knives, pistols and a few submachine guns, this handful of brave and determined men operated deep behind enemy lines in the full knowledge that if caught, they might be executed. Many were.

Yet their many improbable achievements – destroying enemy ships and infrastructure, landing secret agents, tying up enemy forces, spreading fear and uncertainty, and most importantly, preparing the ground for D-Day – helped to make an Allied victory possible.

An Unlikely Partnership

The acknowledged “father” of the SBS is Roger “Jumbo” Courtney, a 38-year-old former big-game hunter with a “bashed-in kind of face” and a “blunt, no-nonsense manner”, who in October 1940 came up with a new way to take the fight to the enemy: using two-man folding canoes (known as folbots) to deliver teams of highly trained commandos deep behind enemy lines. Having provided his superiors with proof of concept – by paddling up to and then sneaking aboard a heavily guarded ship in Inveraray harbour in the Scottish Highlands – he was given permission to form the Folbot Troop, later renamed the Special Boat Section (or SBS). Thus was born “a new style of warfare: a Special Force who came from the sea”.

Deployed to the Middle East, Courtney quickly joined forces with Lieutenant Commander Nigel Willmott, a 30-year-old Royal Navy navigator who was convinced that secret beach reconnaissance was vital if the amphibious landings needed to defeat the Nazis were to succeed. Willmott’s conundrum was how to land on beaches silently; Courtney’s canoes provided the answer. It was an unlikely partnership. Courtney was a big picture person “with a flair for improvisation in a tight corner”, Willmott a details man. This combination of vision and precision would be the making of the SBS.

In March 1941, the two men were transported by submarine from Alexandria to a point off the coast of the Italian-held island of Rhodes. From there they paddled in by canoe and took it in turns to swim ashore and carry out a clandestine survey of the closely guarded shore as preparation for an amphibious assault.

The dangerous mission – undertaken with improvised equipment and at a time of year when the weather was wild and unpredictable – almost resulted in their capture or drowning. Yet, each time they returned safely to the submarine with vital information and proved, beyond doubt, that folbots could make a difference. Together they had pioneered a new technique – close beach reconnaissance – that would save thousands of Allied lives in the years to come.

The two men soon went their separate ways: Courtney to develop the SBS whose multiple roles included landing secret agents, assisting Commando operations, and destroying ships and coastal infrastructure; and Willmott to create, in December 1942, the brilliant maritime special operations unit known as COPP – or Combined Operations Pilotage Parties – that provided beach intelligence for the great amphibious landings in Sicily, Italy, Normandy and later the Far East. Both units are forerunners of the modern SBS.

The Men and Their Missions

Two of Courtney’s most effective operators were Lieutenant “Tug” Wilson and Marine Wally Hughes who would, over the course of eight months in 1941, execute a succession of extraordinarily daring and successful operations that made them the scourge of the Italian military. Yet, both were slight and unassuming types, “the complete opposite of the Commando of fiction, usually portrayed by post-war journalist-authors as rip-roaring, bloodthirsty thugs ever ready to slit a throat”. Hughes, a man of few words, was “short, lean, tough and ready to tackle anything”; Wilson his “suave, sophisticated opposite”.

Their nerve-wracking missions – carried out at night, deep behind enemy lines – involved their transport in submarines to the coasts of Sicily and mainland Italy where they paddled ashore and laid explosive charges that destroyed trains, railway lines and bridges.

On their last operation together, a failed attempt to use a limpet mine to sink an Italian destroyer in the Greek harbour of Navarino in December 1941, Wilson almost drowned in freezing water. “Wetsuits were in the future,” commented a submarine officer, “and Wilson was a skinny man; a plumper operator might have managed.”

Wilson’s long reign of terror was finally brought to an end in September 1942 when he and a new partner, Bombardier John Brittlebank, were captured after they tried to sink a ship in Crotone harbour in Southern Italy with mini hand-operated torpedoes. A hard man to replace, Wilson has been a model for SBS operators ever since: small-framed but deceptively strong, a team player but capable of independent action, an intelligent problem solver, eager to embrace new technology and as brave as a lion.

Another prominent SBS man was Lieutenant Ted Wesley who, in late 1944, took part in a daredevil mission to destroy a railway bridge in northern Sumatra in the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia). Dropped off by submarine, four pairs of canoeists – two officers and six men – lost their way because of a faulty compass, blundered around in the dark jungle, and had to abort the first attempt. Undeterred, they tried again the following night and, having avoided a Japanese bicycle patrol, got to the bridge where they attached 400lbs of explosives and set off their pencil fuses.

Observed by some locals, they took one prisoner and attempted to force him into a canoe to be quizzed later. He resisted and thus began a comical struggle as Ted Wesley tried to subdue the captive by punching him, hitting him with the butt of his luger, and, in a final act of desperation, forcing him under the water ‘to drown some of the life out of him’. The captive responded by biting Wesley’s hand. It was the final straw. Exhausted by the struggle and unwilling to inflict any more harm on the local, Wesley let him go and ‘patted him on the back – a poor atonement for all that bullying!’

Late for their rendezvous with the submarine, they were paddling furiously when a huge explosion heralded the destruction of the bridge.

Preparing for D-Day

Nigel Willmott’s Coppists did vital work throughout the war, losing several men in the process. But their finest hour was in preparing the ground for D-Day. First, during the night of New Year’s Eve 1943, two of Willmott’s best men – Major Logan Scott-Bowden and Sergeant Bruce Ogden-Smith – swam ashore in a highly risky mission to take samples from Gold Beach in Normandy to confirm the sand was firm enough for Allied vehicles to land. Narrowly avoiding detection by German sentries, they returned with the evidence that it was. “On these operations,” wrote Admiral Bertram Ramsay, commanding D-Day naval forces, “depends to a very great extent the final success of operation ‘Overlord’.”

A fortnight later, the same pair scouted Omaha Beach by swimming ashore from a midget submarine. Once again, they brought back vital intelligence, particularly on Omaha’s intimidating defences, and advised American commander Lieutenant General Omar Bradley that “this beach is a very formidable proposition indeed”.

Partly, as a result of the Coppists’ report, the number of invasion beaches was increased from three to five. But nervous about giving the game away, the Americans chose not to accept the Coppists’ offer to signpost their two beaches – Omaha and Utah – on D-Day. The decision had disastrous consequences. “They could have done with that offer of markers,” wrote one Coppist history. “With no inshore signal to guide them, the whole assault force set its predetermined course for the unseen shore from its start point twelve miles out to sea. Immediately the weather and the powerful tidal set took hold of the mass of boats and swept them steadily, innocent, and unknowing, to the east…The whole assault force on ‘Omaha’ had slipped sideways and was surging straight for catastrophe.”

Put ashore in the wrong place, weighed down by weapons and kit, the American troops were massacred. More than 2,000 died on Omaha on 6 June 1944.

Operation Gambit

The value of beach markers was demonstrated a short way to the east of Omaha where Coppist teams in two midget submarines – X20 and X23 – were tasked with guiding British and Canadian landing craft into their respective beaches. The mini-subs were needed for D-Day because the shallow depths and stormy seas off of Normandy were unsuitable for normal submarines and canoes.

The plan, Operation Gambit, was for the two mini-subs – just 50 feet long and each with a 5-man crew – to depart Portsmouth on the night of 2 June 1944, cross the Channel and wait submerged off their respective beaches until just before dawn on 5 June (the original date for D-Day) when they would surface and begin flashing signals.

It was the toughest and most important job on D-Day. To pull it off required perfect timing, nerves of steel and no small amount of luck. Failure was not an option: their premature discovery, they knew, would jeopardise the whole invasion.

Arriving off the Normandy coast in the morning of 4 June, they remained submerged for most of the next two days as bad weather forced a 24-hour postponement of the invasion. This meant another torturous 18-hour oxygen-starved stint beneath the waves on 5 June. From which, they finally emerged at 11.15 p.m. to the “worst hangover in the world” and the news that the invasion was a go for the morning of the 6th.

X23 surfaced off Sword Beach at 4:45 a.m. on Tuesday 6 June and its crew began rigging the signals that would guide the invasion fleet. These lights began flashing seawards at 5.07 a.m. With dawn fast approaching, it was only a matter of time before they were spotted by the shore defences.

Suddenly, recalled 22-year-old Sub Lieutenant Jim Booth, a Coppist on his first mission, the “light must have changed because we saw a huge host of ships coming towards us. Thousands of them. It was incredible. The landing craft came incredibly close to us.” Booth and the others cheered and yelled as the landing craft ploughed past them, a curious sight to the helmeted soldiers as, with most of the submarine underwater, it must have seemed as if they were walking on water.

Though it would not be acknowledged publicly for years, Willmott’s top-secret Coppists had played a key role in the success of D-Day. They were the first to set foot on the beaches, and their lonely and dangerous vigil in X-craft from 4–6 June 1944 would ensure that on the British and Canadian beaches, at least, the assault troops landed in the right place at the right time.

The success of the hazardous operation, wrote Admiral Ramsay, had “materially assisted the greatest landing of British forces on any enemy coast that has ever taken place in the history of the world”.

Saul David is an award-winning historian and the author of SBS: Silent Warriors, which is now out in paperback.

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