By Rex Woods
Published by William Kimber & Co. Limited, London
When Robert Wilson, then a Second-Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, returned from the chaos
of Dunkirk he immediately answered Churchill’s call for shock troops who would ‘set Europe
ablaze’. He volunteered for the Commandos that were being formed, little knowing that as a
foundation member of the Special Boat Section he, an army officer, would be going to war in
a submarine, with a folboat to carry him ashore — and, with luck, back to the waiting
By the middle of 1941 he was ‘setting Europe ablaze’ in no uncertain manner, thereby setting
the enemy’s nerves on edge along the coasts of Italy, Sicily, Greece and North Africa. His
daring feats brought him promotion to Captain and won him his first DSO.
In September 1942 Wilson embarked on his tenth and last folboat exploit, which earned him a
Bar to his DSO, but also landed him in an Italian prisoner-of-war camp. But for him the war
was not over. He made two ingenious escapes, in the company of other courageous and resourceful
officers, whose stories enhance Special Commando.
Wilson’s true and unusual story underlines the remarkable spirit of the submariners who conveyed
him and his folboat to the scene of his daring escapades, and with whom he shared the continual
risks of patrolling in hostile waters, including the inevitable retaliation from depth charges
that had to be endured.
There is also a chapter on Captain Desmond Haslehust of the Worcestershire Regiment and his
escape in Italy with Robert Wilson. After the war Desmond Haslehust was ordained as a Catholic