This revealing World War II memoir tells the story of Jack Harte, who ran away from home to join the British army with just a penny in his pocket and served in Malta and the Middle East, as well as becoming a member of the Special Forces, the precursor to the SAS.
In the 1930s, Jack, like so many boys in the rough-and-tumble environment of inner-city Dublin, dreamt of adventure and foreign climes, as featured in the comic books and movies of the day. Unlike most people, though, he left his home behind to make a bolt for those distant worlds and daring adventures.
After one failed attempt to run away to join the British army, his second attempt succeeded, with him stowing away on the mail boat to Britain. Lying about his age, he was accepted into the army and, following his training, was posted to the strategically important island of Malta. The initial pleasures of the Mediterranean island and its beaches and entertainment areas gave way to the reality of unprecedentedly heavy air raids.
Harte would later be transferred to Palestine, where he and his comrades were involved in several clandestine raids. Such activities ultimately saw Harte being selected for the elite Special Boat Service — the forerunner of the SAS. Harte was captured, and many of his memoir’s most amusing – and occasionally disturbing – episodes cover his internment as a prisoner of war in a German POW camp.
Part coming-of-age memoir and part war story, Harte’s remarkable, often funny tale reads like a novel and serves to remind us of the vital role played by Irish men and women in the Second World War. Limits of Endurance is a testament to the immutability of one man’s spirit against extraordinary circumstance. Also included are previously unpublished photographs of the era.