One June day in 1944 the Nazis descended on Dun-les-Places and in a long & agonising orgy of violence the soldiers murdered the men, raped the women, and burned many houses to the ground.
It was a war crime to rank Dun-les-Places alongside Lidice, Maillé and Oradour-sur-Glane, yet the devastation wrought on this picturesque village is barely known outside central France, certainly not in Britain, despite the fact its fate was inextricably linked to the guerrilla activity of the SAS.
The Bond begins on the night of June 6th when two SAS soldiers parachuted into the Morvan to select a suitable base for guerrilla operations. They chose thick woodland close to Dun-les-Places.
The rest of the squadron followed, battle-hardened men who had fought their way across North Africa, Sicily and Italy. They were commanded by the legendary Bill Fraser, a daring officer whose homosexuality was an open secret, and their orders were to wage a guerrilla war against the Nazis heading north to reinforce their comrades in Normandy. The SAS undertook their orders with relish, wrecking 21 railway lines, destroying 66 vehicles, blowing up an oil plant and a fuel factory & killing 200 Germans over the course of 3 months.
Barely able to catch sight of the British guerrillas who attacked them, the Nazis took out their fury on the civilian population who they knew gave succour to the soldiers. Civilians were deported to concentration camps, livestock was slaughtered and villages razed, but it is the fate of Dun-les-Places that forms the heart of The Bond
The book describes how the village paid a terrible price for refusing to betray the SAS in the summer of 1944. It is a story of unspeakable evil but also of the inspiring friendship that was forged between a squadron of elite British soldiers and a village of simple French peasants.
When the SAS left the Morvan they promised they would return to honour the loyalty and sacrifice of the villagers. They were true to their word, presenting the regimental flag to Dun-les-Places in an emotional ceremony in July 1945 as soldiers wept in the arms of the bereaved.
The bond forged that day has never been broken. In 1994, to mark the 50th anniversary of the destruction of Dun-les-Places, the modern SAS recreated their forefathers' parachute jump in front of President François Mitterrand. That evening veterans from the SAS and the Maquis drank wine from bottles engraved with their emblems and the words, "We'll Never Forget".
Drawing on unprecedented access to the SAS Regimental archives, as well hundreds of hours of interviews with SAS veterans, Maquisards and villagers, Gavin Mortimer brings to life the horror and humanity of that summer of 1944 in a fast-paced and action-packed narrative. A war story with a difference, The Bond reveals the SAS not as one-dimensional soldiers but as young men burdened with guilt and as old men brimming with love for the village that sacrificed itself for them.
Gavin Mortimer is a writer, historian and television consultant whose versatile narrative non-fiction books have been published in Britain and the United States. In addition he writes regularly for The Spectator about France and its politics, and is also a regular contributor to magazines including BBC History, the History of War and History Revealed.
Gavin's first book, the critically-acclaimed 'Fields of Glory: the extraordinary lives of 16 warrior sportsmen' was published in 2001 with the Sunday Telegraph describing it as "inspiring reading". His next book, published by Weidenfeld &...
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