Commandos’ war in a small corner of Croatia: Island of Terrible Friends, by Bill Strutton

KomisaOn holidays on the island of Vis a few years ago I came across a memorial to British commandos in the harbour of Komisa. I found this book after I got home, a non-fiction novel told from the perspective of the real British doctors who worked on the island, in and around Komisa, when it was one of the few bits of Croatia unoccupied by the Germans.

Komiza CommandosThe author, himself a veteran of the war in the Eastern Mediterranean, had clearly taken the time to visit the island as the accounts he gathered are precisely rooted in the geography of the island – its possible to find and follow the roads described in the story and find the locations of many of the incidents. And, while the story is told from the perspectives of the allies and based on the accounts of allied combatants, particularly the doctors on the island, it does not shy away from the nastier aspects of the war: the beautiful island I could see from the window of my holiday apartment, for example, is identified as the place that the Partisans took both German prisoners and their own people judged guilty of infractions to execute them.

Overall a facinating and engagingly written story of deeply likeable people in a bloody but forgotten corner of the bloodiest of wars.

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