New book tells story of Wisbech Second World War hero’s role in daring Operation Biting raid
- Credit: Archant
THE extraordinary story of the Second World War raid on Bruneval and its unlikely Wisbech hero has been retold in a new book.
Night Raid, by Taylor Downing, tells the story of flight sergeant Charlie Cox, who was awarded a Military Medal for bravery for his leading role in Operation Biting, a daring plan to parachute behind enemy lines and steal vital German radar components which held the key to unravelling the secrets of Hitler’s early warning system.
Charlie, who died in 1997 aged 84, had the critical job of identifying and removing the parts which were essential to identifying how the radar worked, a task that normally took half an hour but he was expected to complete in a scarce few minutes while under heavy German fire.
Taylor said: “Of all the brave men who behaved so well that night, poor old Cox stands out because he wasn’t trained for anything like this.
“But, by some strange twist, he finds himself in the front-line, at the centre of one of the most critical operations of the war, and yet somehow he pulls it off.
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“What he achieved was remarkable, an absolutely brilliant feat. There’s no other word for it.”
Charlie found that his tool kit did not have a screwdriver long enough to reach the screw securing the pieces he wanted so he resorted to using cold chisels, big hammers and crow-bars.
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The job completed, the raiders made a hasty exit to the beach only to find the Navy was not there to pick them up. When the Navy did arrive everyone crowded aboard the landing craft and sailed for home.
Not only had they proved the merits of airborne warfare to a sceptical military hierarchy, they had also captured equipment that would allow scientists to unravel the secrets of the German radar system, transforming the crucial bomber campaign against Hitler’s Reich.
Night Raid, by Taylor Downing, is published by Little, Brown, priced £20.