T-force: The Race for Nazi War Secrets, 1945

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Constable, 2009 - 379 pages

In 1945, as the Allied forces approached the German border having fought so bravely following the successful Normandy landings, it was decided that an elite unit was needed to work alongside the frontline soldiers as they headed east: they were called Target-Force. Until now their story has never appeared in any histories of the period.

Through extensive archival work and after interviewing many of the soldiers who tell their story here for the first time, historian Sean Longden can finally reveal the previously unknown story of the men who were sent into Germany to seize and secure highly developed Nazi military technology, key factories and scientists.

T-Force was born out of the chaos of war torn Europe in 1945, and it is no wonder the story reads like a spy thriller: the unit was top secret and originated from a plan belonging to the Naval intelligence officer, Ian Fleming, later the creator of James Bond. The unit was selected from the remnants of the infantry after Normandy and included drivers, sappers, bomb disposal experts, commandos and teams of expert scientists, specialists and engineers. What they discovered would not only shock the allied army but also play a huge role in the opening years of the Cold War.

Between March and summer 1945, the unit was constantly at work seizing targets in towns such as Bremen, Celle, Hamburg and Hanover, where they uncovered a secret laboratory hidden beneath a straw covered floor of a barn, vast blast furnaces in Ruhr Valley steel works that were dismantled and shipped back to England, and a fully functioning aircraft factory operating in two miles of underground tunnels. They went in search of codebooks that could decrypt the enemy's signals; new technology such as jet propelled engines, and mini submarines. They also hunted down the men behind these extraordinary feats: nearly 1,000 top scientists, some smuggled out of the Soviet Zone in unmarked lorries, including Werner Von Braun, the brains behind the V1 and V2 rockets who was to become a key figure in the American space race, Otto Hahn, Germany's foremost expert in nuclear fission and Helmut Walther, the man who inspired Ian Fleming's Moonraker.

Sean Longden's riveting history will change the story of how the second World War was won and how the first battles of the Cold War were fought; it reads like the finest espionage thriller of the era.

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User Review  - ten_floors_up - LibraryThing

This book is not quite what the title suggests, though no doubt that final subtitle was chosen to sell more copies. It is a studied and human view of the man and operations of a rather unconventional ... Read full review


The Birth of an Idea
Normandy and Beyond
The Birth of TForce

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About the author (2009)

Sean Longden is, in the words of the Guardian, "a rising name in military history, and is able to uncover the missing stories of the Second World War." He is the author of three previous books which retell the history of the second world war: Dunkirk: The Men they Left Behind, uncovers the lives of the 41,000 who were left behind in May 1941; Hitler's British Slaves, reveals a new perspective on the harsh realities of life in Nazi POW Camps; To the Victor the Spoils explores what life was really like in the allied ranks from D Day to VE Day.

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