Operation Codicil

A new novel follows the Paras during the Second World War, starting with D-Day and ending with the crossing of the Rhine.
Members of the Paras during D-Day
Home » Articles » Operation Codicil

Operation Codicil, is the first instalment of The Manner of Men series – which is to be a three-part series based on the Parachute Regiment in the Second World War. The series will follow a group of elite pathfinders from D-Day until war’s end, where they see action in Normandy, Arnhem and the Rhine crossing (Operation Varsity) in March 1945.

Operation Codicil introduces the reader to Sergeant Sean Harris, an ex-Lancashire Fusilier and veteran of five years of war; a ‘hard as nails’, no-nonsense soldier. Although somewhat aloof and tough on those under his charge, Harris feels a deep responsibility for each of his men. Has this sense of concern been brought about due to what happened to him at Dunkirk, four years ago?

Led by the capable Lieutenant Christie Walsh, the unit is tasked with setting up a drop zone in the early hours of D-Day, 6th June 1944. Following behind them is a company of paratroopers – their mission: to capture a vital bridge across the River Orne and hold it until land forces relieve them, after the beach assault that is to come that morning.

With half the group thrown off course, the unit is split. Lieutenant Walsh leads one small group with Sergeant Harris commanding the other. On discovering he is on the wrong side of the bridge, Harris meets up with Resistance leader, Camille Toussaint, who tells him an SS unit has recently arrived in the area that the top brass was unaware of. Realising there is now a danger the company will be caught between two groups of battle-hardened German units, Harris leads his men to the bridge to pass on this intelligence to senior officers.

The action in the novel is relentless. Attack follows counterattack as the men hold on desperately to the bridge hard fought for.

With an array of characters including the mysterious cold-blooded killer, Len Dunleavy; fearless corporal, Harry McGuinness; ex-professional footballer, Henry Carter; foul-mouthed scouser, Ian Massam and the ‘calm as you like’, pipe-smoking Captain Tom Rea, the novel brings to life the camaraderie and brotherhood that can only be found in men thrown together in combat.

Of course, this is a work of fiction. The places and characters are purely of my own imagination. However, they are inspired by events that actually took place (e.g. Pegasus Bridge, Merville battery, etc.). The novel is a homage to all the men of the airborne forces of World War Two, especially those of the Parachute Regiment. I had an immense amount of fun writing the book but at the same time wanted to treat the memories of those who fought with the respect they all so richly deserve. I hope I have done them justice.

Book Two in the series will hopefully be released next year and will take place in Arnhem, during Operation Market Garden. (The plot will take into account the fact that those who fought on D-Day (6th Airborne Division) did not fight at Arnhem (1st Airborne Division)).

John McKay is the author of Operation Codicil.