Private Army

PENIAKOFF, Lieutenant-Colonel Vladimir ['Popski']. Private Army.

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PENIAKOFF, Lieutenant-Colonel Vladimir ['Popski']. Private Army. London, Jonathan Cape, [1950].

8vo. Original cloth with dust-wrappers (not price clipped); pp. 512; with portrait frontispiece, title in red and black; photogravure plates and 4 large fold-out maps, printed in three colours; very few faint spots only here and there; a near-fine copy in unclipped dustwrapper, the latter chipped at spine ends and mildly sunned at backstrip.
First edition. Of White Russian descent, Peniakoff (1887-1951) was born in Belgium before his family emigrated to Britain at the outbreak of the First World War. He subsequently returned to mainland Europe to serve in the French army before settling in Egypt in the 1920s. After the outbreak of the Second World War Peniakoff was commissioned into the British army, leading the No. 1 Demolition Squadron as part of the Libyan Arab Force. Commonly known as Popski's Private Army, it was purportedly the smallest independent unit in the British army, containing just 120 soldiers. This book, published a year before his death, provides the author's personal account of that campaign.