The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II

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					eign Legion opponents, who included former                stands its biases and limitations. Indeed, the book
Nazis and routinely patronized prostitutes, the           reflects how completely the FLN’s influence op-
author depicts Col Mesnière de Schacken, a                erations shape Algerian attitudes to this day.
French intelligence officer assassinated by the
FLN, as the epitome of a villainous Frenchman.                                     Lt Col Paul D. Berg, USAF
The colonel comes across as an archetypical,                                            Maxwell AFB, Alabama
monocle-wearing Nazi who condoned institution-
alized torture. Annoyingly, the book spells his
name two different ways—even on the same page
                                                          The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the
(p. 176). Mr. Boudiba’s vilification of the French
                                                            Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Res-
Air Force for using napalm to deforest the scenic
                                                            cue Mission of World War II by Gregory A.
landscape may remind readers of American use
                                                            Freeman. Penguin Group (http://www.penguin
of Agent Orange to defoliate Vietnam.
                                                            group.com), 375 Hudson Street, New York,
    Mr. Boudiba’s narrative reflects airpower’s
                                                            New York 10014-3657, 2007, 336 pages, $23.95
prominent role in the Algerian War during rou-
                                                            (hardcover).
tine operations and the occasional combined-
arms “steamroller” operations conducted by the
                                                             It might not be too difficult to find books
French. His remark “True pointer dogs of the
mountains, the [T-6] Piper-Cub became the parti-          about the Balkans in World War II. One could
san’s bugbear in this war” (p. 45) illustrates the        probably locate quite a few of them—but not
importance of aerial reconnaissance. He makes             many that also cover special-operations aviation,
simple observations, such as how French aircraft          clandestine incursions, and Communist plots
flew only by day, prompting the FLN to operate            against the free world, as does The Forgotten 500.
often at night, and how insurgents quickly dis-           Author Gregory Freeman tells the story of Op-
persed after ambushes to ensure that French               eration Halyard, the largest behind-enemy-lines
aviation would not have enough time to inter-             rescue mission of World War II. Opening with a
vene. In one of his few elaborations on air opera-        description of downed Airmen making their way
tions, he lambastes the French for bombing towns          through the hinterlands of Serbia, he discusses
into rubble, either as collective punishment after        the route by which the Airmen had arrived in
FLN attacks or as a way to depopulate areas in            the mountains of that rugged land—specifically,
order to isolate the FLN from the population.             the bombing raids on the Ploesti oil facilities.
Not surprisingly, he compares these operations            Freeman then describes the beginnings of the
to the notorious German bombing of Guernica in            Office of Strategic Services, precursor of the Cen-
1937, during the Spanish Civil War (p. 101).              tral Intelligence Agency, and introduces some of
    Readers need to approach this work with cau-          the characters who play a role in the drama that
tion. It is an interesting social history of warfare in   unfolds in the following pages. The remainder of
the Ouarsenis from which military professionals     
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: The remainder of the book tells the story of the daring rescue of hundreds of downed Airmen from under the noses of the German army and the sacrifices made by Serbs in order to facilitate that rescue.
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