The Jedburghs: Background information when reading Dadland

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by Keggie Carew

Dadland by Keggie Carew X
Dadland by Keggie Carew
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2017, 432 pages
    Mar 2018, 432 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Barbara Bamberger Scott
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About this Book

The Jedburghs

This article relates to Dadland

Print Review

The Jedburghs were highly trained guerilla warriors who operated behind the scenes, under the radar, and out of the headlines during World War II. In Dadland, we learn that the book's central character, Tom Carew, was part of Jedburgh commando teams, first in France and then in Burma.

The Jeds were recruited from military personnel who were specifically seeking a dangerous mission, were willing to train as parachutists, and preferably, had knowledge of foreign languages. The American Office of Strategic Services and British Special Operations Executive combined strategies and manpower in forming the small physically fit Jedburgh teams. In France, where civilian resistance to the Nazis was a significant factor, the Jeds joined the determined underground resistance known as the Free French.

Jedburghs in front of a B-24 Liberator prior to departure According to intelligence lore, there is no certainty about where the name Jedburgh came from, although one theory stands out as most likely: there is a town in Scotland with that name, where resistance to the English in the 12th century was fierce and terrifying. This accords well with the Jedburghs' macabre motto: "Surprise, kill, and vanish."

The teams, usually comprising 2-4 men, were dropped behind enemy lines to liaise, assist, equip and instruct the local allies in guerrilla actions against occupying enemies. The intention was to weaken and wear down the opposition through small but potent strikes designed to frustrate and discourage the offenders in situations where open warfare wasn't an option.

Besides British officer Tom Carew as described in Dadland, one of the best known Jedburghs was William Colby, who would later become Director of the CIA.

Pictures of Jedburghs from U.S. Office of Strategic Services

Filed under People, Eras & Events

This "beyond the book article" relates to Dadland. It originally ran in March 2017 and has been updated for the March 2018 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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