- 1 Who were the first members of the SAS
- 2 Who is the famous SAS guy
- 3 Who is the famous SAS soldier
- 4 Has the SAS ever failed a mission
- 5 Are there any original SAS left
- 6 How many SAS survived the first jump
- 7 Who is the oldest SAS soldier
- 8 Did Bear Grylls serve in the SAS
- 9 How old is an SAS soldier
- 10 Is SAS like Navy SEALs
- 11 Who were the real SAS Rogue Heroes
- 12 What happened to the man who started the SAS
Who were the first members of the SAS
The SAS (Special Air Service) is Britain’s elite special forces unit, formed in the summer of 1941 by two Scottish brothers, David and Bill Stirling, who were stationed in Cairo.
Who is the famous SAS guy
Lieutenant-Colonel ‘Paddy’ Mayne is a legendary figure in the history of the Special Forces. A celebrated sportsman with a turbulent character, he played a vital role in the early successes of the Special Air Service (SAS), becoming one of its most important commanders.
Who is the famous SAS soldier
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Born||25 April 1949 Stirling, Scotland|
|Died||26 August 2011 (aged 62) Thessaloniki, Greece|
|Service/ branch||British Army|
|Years of service||1969–1992|
|Unit||Royal Engineers 22 SAS|
|Battles/wars||Operation Nimrod Falklands War Operation Banner|
John Thomas “Mac” McAleese, MM (25 April 1949 – 26 August 2011) was a Scottish soldier who took part in several late 20th century conflicts with the British Army’s Royal Engineers and the Special Air Service, which is now within the umbrella organisation, United Kingdom Special Forces.
Has the SAS ever failed a mission
Operation Canuck, January 1945 operation in Northern Italy. Operation Cold Comfort, February 1945 failed SAS raid on railway targets near Verona.
Are there any original SAS left
Last survivor of SAS squad that fought the Nazis relives his time in the desert
- From the storming of the Iranian embassy to daring raids behind enemy lines in the Gulf War, the has become the stuff of legend.
- The – motto, Who Dares Wins – was founded in 1941 in the midst of the Second World War to undertake small-scale raids behind enemy lines.
- A drama series, SAS Rogue Heroes, by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight, starts tomorrow, charting the creation of the SAS.
- Mike Sadler, 101, is the last surviving member of the original SAS and today tells the Mirror what it was like to fight in the desert with the unit, which was the idea of Scottish aristocrat and mountaineer David Stirling.
- Stirling was training to climb Mount Everest when the war broke out, and volunteered for a commando unit in the Middle East.
- The 26-year-old, who suffered from partial paralysis in his leg after a parachute jump accident, came up with the idea of launching surprise attacks using small teams of soldiers.
Mike Sadler, with SAS founder David Stirling during WWII
- Mike was the navigator for the first SAS unit – then known as L-Detachment – guiding raiding columns for hundreds of miles behind enemy lines in North Africa.
- The elite troops operated by stealth, destroying aircraft, supplies – and enemy morale.
- In December 1941, the new SAS unit proved its worth when its second-in-command Irishman Robert Blair “Paddy” Mayne, led an attack on Tamet airfield in Libya.
- A small group burst into the officers’ mess and gunned down the Germans and Italians inside, then destroyed 24 aircraft, fuel tanks, an ammunition dump and a line of telegraph poles.
- In 15 months, the SAS put hundreds of enemy vehicles out of action and destroyed more than 250 aircraft.
- Stirling was dubbed the “Phantom Major” by German Field Marshal Rommel, and was rumoured to have personally strangled 41 men.
- He was captured by the Germans in 1943, but escaped before being recaptured by the Italians, spending the rest of the war in the notorious Colditz prison.
- In his absence, responsibility for the SAS passed to Mayne, who had been awaiting court martial for striking his commanding officer when Stirling recruited him.
Mike Sadler with historian Dan Snow The unit was disbanded after the war ended, but in 1947 it was re-formed as part of the Territorial Army, becoming a regular Army unit again in 1952. Mayne, who had survived some of the SAS’s most daring raids, died in 1955 after being hit by a farmer’s vehicle as he walked home near Bangor, Northern Ireland.
- Mike Sadler had been captured along with Stirling in 1943 while trying to cross the Tunisian desert to meet the British-American 1st Army.
- But while Stirling spent the rest of the war in Colditz, Mike managed to escape with another SAS soldier and an Arabic-speaking Frenchman.
- He guided the group on a five-day, 100-mile trek, without a map, or any food provisions, to link up with the 1st Army.
In 2018, Mike was awarded the Legion of Honour, France’s highest award. Here, he tells of his time in the desert with the first SAS unit. Q What did you think of David Stirling as a man? He was a first-class man, highly intelligent, highly motivated, and in many ways the founder of the SAS.
David was the one who perceived the possibilities and was determined to make the SAS a reality. He managed to recruit about 80 chaps who had, he thought, the requirements he needed. He wanted people who could get on with each other – and him – in difficult circumstances. He was more interested in that than their qualifications.
Lt Colonel David Stirling DSO, who created the Special Air Service ( IWM) Special Air Service crest ( Internet grab) Q What was your impression of Paddy Mayne? He was an action man, he liked firing weapons. Paddy was a great one for a party and he was inclined to have one pulled out of bed in the middle of the night just to join a party.
I found that sort of thing rather maddening, but he was so nice you couldn’t really mind. Q What was the attitude of people to death and injury? The most important thing was having a doctor capable of doing their work in an emergency. We did have some good doctors who could perform an operation right there in the sand.
Q If you returned from a raid and somebody had been killed, was that discussed? Oh yes. They said what a good chap he was, and how sad. People on the whole didn’t think about being killed. We all thought someone else would be killed, but not us. I don’t know why it was.
I suspect it was self-protection really. Q Would you regard what you did as more dangerous than what other members of the military were doing? Oh no, certainly not. We knew about the tank battles and things like that. They were much worse. We heard about people getting stuck in tanks which had gone on,
We felt we were lucky to be out in these remote parts where there wasn’t too much risk. Well, of course, there was a great deal of risk, but we didn’t value it too greatly. David Stirling, founder of the SAS on patrol during WWII – he was dubbed the “Phantom Major” by German Field Marshal Rommel, and was rumoured to have personally strangled 41 men Q Did you regard yourselves as special, as the name Special Air Service indicates? We felt we were a good lot of chaps together, that’s true, we did feel that.
But I don’t know that we felt we were particularly special. Yes, we were pretty unique in one way. We were conscious that we were doing something different from the regular army. Q Can you tell us more about the challenges of operating in the desert? The problems were knowing where you were, and knowing where you could find resources, such as the places where you could find water on a long journey in unknown territory over very bad conditions.
Sometimes you could get a lovely flat area where you could drive along at 50 or 60 miles an hour. At other times you couldn’t go a mile in an hour because of the terrible conditions, boulders and rocks and stones, getting punctures in tyres endlessly, and damage to the vehicles.
Overall, I loved the desert, I thought it was perfect. I was very sorry to leave at the end of the desert war. It was like being on the sea in a way. You could go in any direction. There was a great sort of freedom attached to being in the desert. There was so much variety – beautiful smooth surfaces, sand, and impassable great sand dunes hundreds of feet high –slowly moving across the desert with the prevailing wind, the sand dunes moving very, very slowly, perhaps a foot every year, but altering their arrangements quite considerably.
Oh yes, I thought the desert was a wonderful place. The cast of the new BBC One show SAS Rogue Heroes ( BBC/Kudos/Rory Mulvey) Q How secret were your operations? The whole SAS started out its success by being terrifically secret. David didn’t want any publicity at all, and we never had any to start with, not until the raid of the SAS on the Iranian embassy, which took place in the presence of the television cameras.
- Q How did you deal with the heat in the desert? We had a bit of a water ration, maybe two pints every day, and if you could last half the day without having any of it then it made life a little bit more hopeful.
- There was a lot of suffering for those who failed to reserve water for later in the day.
- If you drank it earlier, it made you much more thirsty.
Q How did you adapt to conditions in the desert? In the desert – depending on the temperature – for much of the day we just wore a pair of shorts and possibly a shirt or something over the top, and headgear. People favoured so-called desert headdress to wrap round their heads, and, indeed, certainly in a sandstorm you could use it to shelter from the sand to some extent.
- Q How do you feel about young people watching SAS Rogue Heroes and learning of the amazing things you did?
- They make for very good stories, no denying, and they were very exciting at the time in some cases – exciting and frightening at the same time.
- Everyone had to take chances which gave rise to considerable possibilities of risk and danger, but they were all part of the business really, you had to put up with it.
- It was not something people were enjoying at the time very often – well, it was exciting to be shooting off at things, yes, I suppose it was.
- Mostly we didn’t remember killing people because, in our case at any rate in the SAS, we were mostly shooting in the dark at things, or putting bombs on targets and hoping not to disturb the people who were going to be the recipients of them.
SAS Rogue Heroes, 9pm tomorrow on BBC1
You can find this story in Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right. : Last survivor of SAS squad that fought the Nazis relives his time in the desert
How many SAS survived the first jump
” I have always felt uneasy in being known as the founder of the Regiment. ” –Sir David Stirling, June 30, 1984 The Time: The night of Nov.16-17, 1941. The Place: The Western Desert of North Africa in World War II. The Force: 65 picked and trained men. The Mission: Parachute behind German lines and destroy enemy aircraft on airfields, which will threaten an Allied counteroffensive, code-named Operation Crusader, due to launch in just two days.
- The Facts: It’s their first mission.
- The unit, the Special Air Service (SAS), is revolutionary and brand new,
- Their leader, then-Capt.
- David Stirling, is considered by his own superiors to be a maverick.
- And to top it all off, the military bureaucracy of Middle East Headquarters (ME HQ) wants them to fail.
Before the SAS can take off, a massive storm blows up and the 65 men are given the option of pulling out. They face a difficult dilemma: Cancel the drop and their own high command will kill off the unit before it has run its first mission. Or jump into the storm, and chances are that many of them won’t survive.
They decide to go and jump. In the storm, the men are separated from their gear and explosives, and don’t even reach the targeted enemy airfields. Of the 65, just 21 make it out, across the desert, to the rendezvous (RV) point for the trip back to their base camp. This should be the end of the story. In fact, it’s the beginning of the story of a modern military revolution: The birth of modern special operations forces.
And to understand what happens next, it’s necessary to know what has gone before. Because the 21 men who jumped into that storm, and somehow survived to fight on, are the founding members of the British SAS. Within their small, insular community they are today known as “The Originals,” and this is their story.
Who is the youngest SAS?
Life and works – In 1959, at the age of eighteen, Wiseman became the youngest person ever to pass selection for the SAS, joining from the, which he had joined a year earlier. He went on to serve in the SAS for 26 years, rising to the rank of, Wiseman was also Head of Operational Research 22 SAS, set up a counter hijack team known as SP Team and founded the SAS Counter-Terrorist Team (who are well known for their involvement in the ).
- Before his retirement Wiseman was also involved in selection courses where he helped decide who was able to join the SAS.
- When he retired in 1985 the commanding officer of the 22nd SAS said that “Lofty is a legend in this regiment.” After leaving the SAS in 1985, his first book was (published in 1986).
Wiseman has since become a survival author and consultant, as well as appearing on television. When he provided survival training to the cast of the 1990 film, his ability to make food out of unlikely materials inspired cast member to write the song,
Who is the oldest SAS soldier
Have your say in the comments below – The soldier has served in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan and numerous other war zones around the world It is understood that the soldier, who has served in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan and numerous other war zones around the world, is now the oldest serving member of the black-clad force.
- Members of L-Det can be called up in times of emergency to undertake roles in the UK, including intelligence work and training,to free-up regular members of the SAS,
- But the reservists can also deploy on operations as well.
- The soldier who answered the call of duty told friends: “I was regarded as being old when the Iraq War kicked off and I deployed in my mid-30s.
There were all these young blokes calling me old timer and grandad. Now I really am a grandad and I’m rejoining.
- The Mirror’s newsletter brings you the latest news, exciting showbiz and TV stories, sport updates and essential political information.
- The newsletter is emailed out first thing every morning, at 12noon and every evening.
- Never miss a moment by signing up to our newsletter,
“The SAS has been a major part of my life and I loved serving in it. But everyone knows that the clock is ticking and you only have a certain amount of time before you have to leave. It was a real blow but I knew it was coming. The soldier, who can’t be named for security reasons, like all members of the special forces – said: “When I walked out the camp gate I thought it was best to put the regiment behind me and concentrate on getting on with life.
But I missed the job, the people and the craic. “The SAS is always understrength and because it’s an operational unit the manpower demands are always high. “I’m up for the challenge and although I might not be as fast as a 25-year-old, I still train every day, running half marathons and hitting the gym.” Most soldiers who join the SAS will remain in the unit for the rest of their military careers and can serve up 20 years.
But with around 10 to 15 soldiers retiring from the SAS every year the loss in terms of years of experience is seen as too high. One former SAS officer said: “The SAS, and it’s the same with the other special forces units, can lose up to 15 soldiers with over 150 years of operational experience between them.
- At a time when manning is low across the entire armed forces that is a loss the SAS cannot afford and so those who can still offer the regiment something are invited to rejoin.
- A 50-year-old soldier today is far fitter than a 50-year soldier 30-years ago so we still have a lot to offer.” You can find this story in Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right.
: Hero grandad rejoins the SAS and becomes regiment’s oldest serving member at 51
What is the SAS motto?
THE SPECIAL AIR SERVICE (SAS) The cloth cap badge of the SAS. In an effort to consolidate the identity of his new unit, Colonel Stirling privately arranged for this insignia to be made up by a Cairo tailor. The cap badge was originally designed as a flaming ‘sword of Damocles’ but ended up as a winged dagger.
- The motto ‘Who Dares Wins’ summed up Stirling’s original SAS concept.
- We have over a million object records online, and we are adding to this all the time.
- Our records are never finished.
- Sometimes we discover new information that changes what we know about an object, such as who made it or used it.
- Sometimes we change how an object is interpreted.
We sometimes make mistakes in our spelling, transcription or categorisation, or miss information out of our records. Read more about our collections and the information we hold. If you have concerns about the language in this record, or you have information to improve it, please share your feedback.
The ‘Market Garden’ plan employed all three divisions of First Allied Airborne Army. Altogether, some 35,000 parachute and glider troops were involved in the operation. Six years of war brought many changes to familiar festive rituals. Christmas celebrations during the Second World War often had to be scaled down or adjusted as restrictions and shortages took their toll.
A collection of historic photos from the IWM archives. : THE SPECIAL AIR SERVICE (SAS)
What do the SAS do day to day?
The unit specialises in a number of roles including counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, direct action and covert reconnaissance.
Did the SAS help win the war?
By Frank Johnson – Second Lieutenant David A. Sterling of the Scots Guards was serving with Lt. Col. Robert E. “Lucky” Laycock’s No.8 (Guards) British Commando Battalion, based at Suez, Egypt, in 1941, when he got a novel idea. Temporarily paralyzed from the waist down after an unauthorized parachute jump near Mersa Matruh, Stirling found himself confined for two months in the Alexandria Scottish Hospital.
- While recuperating, he thought about ways to make Commando hit-and-run raids against enemy bases and airfields more effective.
- Stirling reasoned that small teams of highly trained men could achieve better results than larger groups.
- Such teams could create confusion and chaos amongst the enemy and tie down offensive forces for defensive purposes.
The 25-year-old subaltern proposed in a penciled memorandum that four-man teams—with each member specializing in weapons, explosives, navigation, or signals—could venture into the Egyptian and Libyan deserts, with German and Italian supply lines, airfields, and ammunition and fuel dumps as their primary objectives.
On his release from the hospital in July 1941, the tall, handsome, aristocratic Stirling felt he should bring his plan to the attention of General Sir Claude Auchinleck, commander of the British Middle East Forces. Commanders-in-chief in the British Army were not customarily receptive to being buttonholed by junior officers, but Stirling decided nevertheless to ignore the usual channels.
He feared that unimaginative, middle-ranking officers would stifle his concept. So, he made his way to the General Headquarters in Cairo, used his crutches as a ladder to scale the perimeter fence, eluded sentries, and by a “rare bit of good fortune” found himself hobbling into the office of Auchinleck’s deputy, bearded Lt.
- Gen. Neil Ritchie.
- Stirling apologized to the surprised Ritchie for his unconventional approach, and the latter read his memorandum and promised to discuss it with the C-in-C.
- For Auchinleck, new to the command and under pressure from Prime Minister Winston Churchill to mount an offensive, Stirling’s plan was just what he was looking for.
It was original and required few resources. Three days later, Stirling returned to the headquarters, this time with a pass, and met the dignified General Auchinleck. The C-in-C promoted him to captain and gave him permission to recruit a force of six other officers and 60 enlisted men.
Thus, in July 1941, the British Army’s Special Air Service (SAS) was created. It would become one of the most elite and effective special forces of World War II and beyond. Born in 1915, the son of Brig. Gen. Archibald Stirling of Keir, Stirlingshire, the maverick lieutenant had attended Ampleforth College in Yorkshire and Trinity College, Cambridge, from which he was sent down for gambling and drinking.
His early ambition was to be a painter, and he was training for an attempt to climb Mount Everest when war broke out in 1939. There were two particular officers Stirling wanted for his desert force and who promptly agreed to join. One was Australian Lieutenant Jock Lewes, a scholar, Oxford University rowing blue, and daring soldier who had carried out small raids on enemy desert outposts.
The other, who would become Stirling’s second-in-command, was a fellow maverick who was under close arrest for striking his commanding officer. He was Ulster-born Captain Robert “Paddy” Blair Mayne, a prewar international rugby player. By August 1941, Stirling had established his little force in a three-tent camp at Kabrit, 100 miles south of Cairo in the Suez Canal Zone.
The initial unit was known as L Detachment of the Special Air Service Brigade. The name was a deception to convince the enemy that the British had a complete airborne brigade in the field. Lieutenant Colonel David Stirling was the father of the Special Air Service. He was captured in 1943 and embarked on a new military adventure as an escape artist. Recruited within less than a week from the remains of Laycock’s Layforce, the volunteers were trained in special hit-and-run operations and survival.
Stirling insisted on physical fitness, character, and a high standard of discipline equal to that of the Brigade of Guards. The training was rigorous, and anyone not up to scratch was immediately transferred to another unit. One of Stirling’s recruits, H.R. Fitzroy Maclean, who rose to brigadier rank, reported, “For days and nights on end, we trudged interminably over the alternating soft sand and jagged rocks of the desert, weighed down by heavy loads of explosive, eating and drinking only what we could carry with us.
In the intervals, we did weapon training, physical training, and training in demolitions and navigation.” Together, Stirling and Mayne shaped L Detachment into a tough unit ready for action, but equipment was sadly lacking. Captain Stirling, a self-described “cheeky laddie,” decided that needed gear would have to be “borrowed.” So, the detachment’s first— and highly unofficial—mission was a night raid on a New Zealand Division camp a few miles down the road.
- Stirling’s men loaded their only three-ton truck with anything useful that could be found and made off with.
- L Detachment’s first official combat foray—a parachute drop—was a dismal failure.
- Five teams were dropped by five obsolete Royal Air Force Bristol Bombay transport planes on the black night of November 16, 1941, to attack five forward German airfields near Gazala in support of General Auchinleck’s Operation Crusader offensive.
The operation was to precede Auchinleck’s attempt to relieve the besieged British garrison at Tobruk. But Stirling’s raiders were widely scattered by high winds and a sandstorm and lost their equipment containers. Only 22 men made it back to a rendezvous with the Long-Range Desert Group (LRDG), a roving, deep-penetration reconnaissance force that had been formed in July 1940.
Stirling, who was later promoted to major and then lieutenant colonel, was undeterred, but he abandoned the airborne concept in favor of overland operations in vehicles provided by the LRDG. The Special Air Service was back in business with its motto, “Who dares wins,” and a winged dagger as its insignia.
The members were issued white berets, but after drawing derisive wolf whistles from other servicemen, the headgear was changed to khaki forage caps and finally sand-colored berets. The first members of the SAS, who changed the nature of warfare, came to be known as “The Originals.” Bearded, disheveled, and wearing Arab headgear, Stirling’s irregulars ranged thousands of miles behind the Italian and German lines in the North African desert from 1941 to 1943.
- They drove four-wheel-drive Chevrolet trucks, Bentley touring cars, and later Jeeps laden with Vickers or Browning machine guns, small arms, Lewis bombs, Jerry cans, and water condensers.
- The freebooters subsisted on a makeshift diet of rock-hard Army biscuits, corned beef, chocolate rations, marmalade, tea, dates, snails, onions, turnips, and whatever else they could find in oases and Arab villages.
When their water cans ran dry, the SAS irregulars had to resort to brackish, wormy water from wells. The SAS grew rapidly, and by late 1942 had expanded to almost 400 men. Its operations extended, and by the time that the Western Desert war ended, it had been officially designated a British Army regiment, the 1st SAS.
- It included in its ranks some French paratroopers, Greeks, and even anti-fascist Germans.
- In 1943, a second regiment, the 2nd SAS, was raised under the command of Colonel Stirling’s eldest brother, William.
- It served with the British First Army in Tunisia.
- During their audacious expeditions across the endless dunes, wadis, and scrub-dotted wastes, the SAS patrols destroyed an estimated 400 Axis aircraft on the ground, severed Afrika Korps fuel-and-ammunition railway lines multiple times, blew up numerous supply and bomb dumps, and made almost 50 assaults against key German positions.
It was a harsh existence for Stirling and his men, but theirs was an unrestricted war far removed from the Cairo top brass and stifling military regulations. They were on their own in the desert, and morale was high. Nothing save panzers could stop the SAS and LRDG raiders, and they were contemptuous of the enemy they harassed and eluded again and again.
Frank Harrison, the driver for Lt. Col. David Lloyd Owen, reported, “We drove through a huge German Army camp. The cooks were just getting up. Odd fellows walking about, going to the lavatories and having a wash. We just drove through them waving. They waved back. Why not? Five trucks driving through your camp, in the early morning, waving to you, why not wave back? Can’t possibly be enemy, all that way behind German lines.
Impossible.” Nevertheless, danger dogged the irregulars’ tracks all the way as they tried to elude superior enemy forces and hide from reconnaissance planes persistently scouting them. As Captain Malcolm J. Pleydell, the SAS medical officer, reported, “Although life was free and easy in the mess, discipline was required for exercises and operations.
On the operations in which I was involved, our patrol would make long detours south of the battle line and then loop up north to within striking distance of an airfield or similar target. Camouflage had to be expert, so that when you hid up you couldn’t be detected — even at close distance. Slow-flying enemy aircraft could follow our tracks to our hiding places, and they represented a real threat.
It was a hit-and-run, hide-and-seek type of war.” The Italian airfield at Barce, Libya, is littered with wrecked aircraft and equipment after an SAS raid. The SAS severely hampered Axis logistics and offensive operations with deep penetration raids behind enemy lines. Like the LRDG, the SAS irregulars became a painful thorn in the enemy side, and their leader was nicknamed the “Phantom Major” by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, commander of the Afrika Korps.
A reward of 100,000 Reichsmarks was put on Stirling’s head. He was a colorful figure in the British Army; his bravery was well known, and he was viewed as a man of vision and action, another Lawrence of Arabia. Some fellow officers regarded him as slightly mad, but as General Bernard L. Montgomery astutely pointed out later, “In war there is a place for mad people.” Stirling was soon promoted to lieutenant colonel.
His second-in-command, Mayne, was a boyish, hard-drinking former sportsman from Ireland whose exceptional leadership qualities were matched by great bravery, characterized at times as reckless and wild. Lieutenant George Jellicoe, who joined the SAS in 1942, described Mayne, who specialized in the destruction of grounded enemy aircraft, as “brave as 10 lions, a tactical genius.” A legendary figure like Stirling, Paddy Mayne became one of the two most highly decorated British soldiers of World War II.
As part of Stirling’s L Detachment, Mayne took part in a series of operations against enemy airfields and supply lines in the second half of 1941. He led a daring raid on an Italian airfield at Tamet in the Libyan desert that December, destroying 14 planes, damaging 10, and blowing up bomb and fuel dumps.
Two weeks later, he went back and destroyed 27 more aircraft. In only four months, the reputation of the SAS had grown, and Mayne’s personal count of enemy planes destroyed had risen to more than 100. It was bold, deadly work. After a raid one night on the base at Fuka, Mayne reported that the enemy had “posted a sentry on nearly every bloody plane.” He said, “I had to knife them before I could place the bombs.” He and his small team destroyed 17 aircraft that night.
- On one particularly busy night, Mayne destroyed no less than 47 grounded enemy aircraft.
- On another occasion, he put a plane out of action with his bare hands.
- The SAS destroyed more than 400 aircraft in just over a year, and Paddy Mayne’s personal score was more than twice that of any Allied fighter ace in World War II.
The SAS attacks on German and Italian airfields proved essential to the success of early British offensives in the Western Desert. It was found to be more economical in terms of available resources to destroy enemy aircraft on the ground than in the air.
German planes, particularly the Messerschmitt Me-109 fighters, were far superior to the British Desert Air Force’s overworked Hawker Hurricanes and obsolete Gloster Gauntlet biplanes and Gladiators. Operations by Stirling’s SAS raiders continued with increasing tempo until the end of 1942, with the unit operating at one time from the Kufra oasis, 500 miles south of Tobruk.
When the unit was expanded as the 1st SAS Regiment, Paddy Mayne took command of its A Squadron and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in recognition of his “special services.” His leadership qualities were about to be needed even more acutely.
On January 10, 1943, the legendary Stirling was captured when a special German unit ambushed his column in Tunisia. He managed to escape and join a group of Arabs, but they sold him to the Germans for 11 pounds of tea. The Phantom Major tried unsuccessfully to escape four times from a prison camp in Italy, and then spent the rest of the war at the impregnable Colditz Prison in Saxony, Germany.
Mayne, who had also become a British Army legend in the Western Desert, was promoted to lieutenant colonel and assumed command of the SAS Regiment until its reorganization into two units, the Special Raiding Squadron and the Special Boat Section. Then came the massive Allied invasion of Sicily, and the fighting Ulsterman was soon back in action.
In the early morning hours of Saturday, July 10, 1943, General Montgomery’s British Eighth Army and Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.’s, U.S. Seventh Army landed in southern Sicily. Paddy Mayne led the Special Raiding Squadron as it splashed ashore from a landing craft just south of Syracuse, on the southeastern coast.
Mayne and his men scrambled up a cliff and destroyed the Italian gun battery at Capo Murro di Porco. They captured entire the 700-man garrison within minutes. Lieutenant Colonel Robert Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne photographed near the town of Kabrit, Egypt, in 1942. Fighting on through the night, the SRS men destroyed six heavy guns, killed 100 Italians, and captured between 2,000 and 3,000 more. The operation was a complete success.
- Mayne was awarded his second DSO, and the citation said that his “courage, determination, and superb leadership proved the key to success.
- He personally led his men from the landing craft in the face of heavy machine-gun fire.
- By this action he succeeded in forcing his way to ground where it was possible to form up,” There was little respite for Mayne and his men.
After marching to Syracuse and being relieved by the British 5th Infantry Division, the SRS squadron headed for the port of Augusta, defended by the crack Hermann Goring Panzer Division. Using only hand grenades and small arms, the SRS raiders attacked the garrison on July 12, and had taken the port by late that day.
When Sicily was secured and the fighting switched to the Italian mainland, Colonel Mayne’s squadron was assigned the capture of Bagnara, north of the British Eighth Army positions around Reggio di Calabria. Landing in the early hours of September 12, 1943, the SRS unit ran into fierce resistance and was unable to clear the German defenders from the hills around the southern port.
Mayne’s men dug in and fought off counterattacks for two grueling days before being relieved. They were then withdrawn to Sicily for a well-earned rest. The final action for the Special Raiding Squadron in the Mediterranean theater came on October 4, 1943, when it landed with crack Royal Marine Commandos at Termoli on the Italian Adriatic coast.
- The SRS advanced into the port, secured it, and was then subjected to a strong German counterattack.
- During the bloody action, 22 of Colonel Mayne’s men were blown to pieces in the back of a truck.
- The battered unit hung on grimly for three days before managing to beat back the enemy, and Mayne was awarded a bar to his DSO.
While the 2nd SAS Regiment continued fighting in Italy until the war’s end, Mayne and his squadron returned to England in March 1944 to prepare for the planned Allied invasion of Normandy. The SRS was expanded and reverted to its previous designation of 1st SAS Regiment, joining the newly-formed 2,500-man SAS Brigade.
The brigade comprised two British SAS regiments, two Free French regiments, and a Free Belgian squadron. The SAS experiment had proved a resounding success during its valiant service in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Brigadier Maclean observed, “Working on these lines, David (Stirling) achieved a series of successes which surpassed the wildest expectations of those who had originally supported his venture.
No sooner had the enemy become aware of his presence in one part of the desert than he was attacking them somewhere else. Never has the element of surprise, the key to success in all irregular warfare, been more brilliantly exploited. Soon, the number of aircraft destroyed was well into three figures.” Many tributes were paid to the SAS founder, Mayne, and their men.
Lt. Gen. Sir Miles C. Dempsey, the able, unassuming commander of the British Second Army, told Mayne, “In my military career and in my time I have commanded many units. I have never met a unit in which I had such confidence as I have in yours.” In the early months of 1944, the SAS men trained on the Scottish moorlands for their invasion role.
They were to parachute behind German lines and establish a series of bases from which they could operate in strength. Then they were to harass the enemy, disrupt communications, gather intelligence for forward Allied units, and train and support French resistance fighters in sabotage.
Blair was in command of the 1st SAS Regiment. In the early hours of D-Day, June 6, 1944, SAS troops carried out diversionary parachute drops on the Cherbourg peninsula, west of the British, American, and Canadian landing beaches. Subsequently, until the liberation of Paris in August, Colonel Mayne and his comrades were engaged in a spoiling role from Abbeville as far south as Paris and the River Loire.
Aboard jeeps mounted with pairs of twin Vickers K rapid-fire machine guns or,50-caliber Browning machine guns, the SAS irregulars raced through the countryside, shooting and blasting German units and installations at will. With a touch of Celtic whimsy, Mayne had added two features to his Jeep—a public address system for “broadcasting rude words to the retreating Germans” and a phonograph on which he endlessly played Irish ballads. During an operation to assist Italian partisans, heavily armed men of No.2 SAS Regiment carry components of Vickers machine guns and ammunition belts draped over their shoulders as they traverse a mountain path somewhere in the countryside of Italy. The Germans reacted strongly to the irregulars’ bold forays because their desert reputation had preceded them.
Despite their firepower, the SAS jeeps proved vulnerable in skirmishes with enemy armored units, and the regiment suffered its heaviest losses of the war. Many irregulars were captured and executed by the Gestapo. For his “fine leadership, example, and utter disregard of danger” in the Normandy operations, Mayne was awarded his third DSO.
He also received the French Legion d’Honneur and the Croix de Guerre. In the waning weeks of the European war, Mayne’s regiment took part with the Canadian 4th Armored Division in the final breakout through Germany, which ended at the Baltic Sea port of Kiel.
At Oldenburg in northwestern Germany on April 9, 1945, as his regiment led the Canadian armor through enemy lines, Paddy Mayne’s actions in liberating a strongly-held village brought him a recommendation for the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest decoration. When his forward squadron commander was killed, Colonel Mayne grabbed a Bren gun and, under fire and in full view of the enemy, dashed into several houses, killing and wounding the German defenders.
Then he jumped into a jeep and cleared a path for the advancing British troops by shooting from the hip at the enemy. The big Ulsterman also rescued several wounded soldiers in the face of intense machine-gun fire. Then he calmly took charge of the situation, breaking “the crust of the enemy defenses in the whole of the sector.” At the end of the war, Mayne saw service in Norway, where the SAS Brigade disarmed 300,000 German garrison troops.
The citation for his VC recommendation said, “His cool and determined action and his complete command of the situation, together with his unsurpassed gallantry, inspired all ranks.” But the VC recommendation was turned down, perhaps through official disapproval of Mayne’s well-known rebellious streak.
Colonel Stirling called the decision “a monstrous injustice,” and it was reported at the time that King George VI inquired why the VC had “so strangely eluded him.” After the war, Colonel Stirling left the Army to settle in East Africa and moved later to Hong Kong.
- He died in 1990 shortly after being knighted, and a statue of him was erected in his former home at Doune, Perthshire.
- Shortly after the SAS was disbanded on October 1, 1945, Colonel Paddy Mayne was demobilized.
- He was just 30 years old.
- Like many returning World War II heroes, he was restless and unsuited for a sedentary civilian life.
He found respite in taking his pet dog for spins in his red Riley sports car along the roads of scenic County Down. He died at the age of 40 in a traffic accident in Newtownards while returning home early on December 15, 1955. Fifty years after his death, a campaign to have Paddy Mayne awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross gained momentum when more than 100 Members of Parliament supported early-day motions charging that he had been the victim of a “grave injustice.” Ian Gibson, the Labor Party member for Norwich North, said, “We have had no satisfactory answers why he cannot be awarded the VC.
- It is small-mindedness.” Although the Special Air Service had been disbanded in 1945, postwar insurgencies—particularly the Communist uprising in Malaya—soon ensured its revival and modification for new kinds of warfare.
- The 21st SAS (Artists Rifles) Regiment, a Territorial Army (militia) outfit, was created, and a special jungle-warfare unit known as the Malayan Scouts was raised by the colorful Brigadier Michael “Mad Mike” Calvert, a veteran of both the SAS and Major Gen.
Orde Wingate’s famed Chindit columns in Burma. The SAS became a potent force in the war on insurgencies and terrorism. After the Malayan Communists were subdued in one of the most successful campaigns of the 20th century, the highly-trained SAS irregulars served all over the world—in the Falklands War, the Persian Gulf campaigns, and such trouble spots as Borneo, Aden, Oman, Mogadishu, and Northern Ireland.
- An SAS team made headlines on May 5, 1980, when it rescued 25 hostages held by Arab gunmen at the Iranian Embassy in Prince’s Gate, London.
- SAS units also took part in the 1991 Gulf War and later Middle East operations.
- The SAS remains one of the British Army’s—and the world’s—elite units.
- Author Frank Johnson has studied World War II history for many years and resides in the United Kingdom.
Back to the issue this appears in
Who is the highest rank SAS soldier?
Mastering Self-Motivation: The SAS Way with Mark Billingham – SAS: Who Dares Wins’ Chief Instructor and former soldier, Billy Billingham, knows danger better than any man alive. Featuring on the Fear Naught Podcast, he shares the truth about what it’s like to be part of an elite military unit, plus how the Channel 4 show compares to the gruelling reality of true SAS selection.
Did Bear Grylls serve in the SAS
BEAR GRYLLS OBE, has become known worldwide as one of the most recognized faces of survival and outdoor adventure. Trained from a young age in martial arts, Grylls went on to spend three years as a soldier in the British Special Forces, as part of 21 SAS Regiment.
- It was here that he perfected many of the survival skills that his fans all over the world enjoy, as he pits himself against the worst of Mother Nature.
- Despite a free-fall parachuting accident in Africa, where he broke his back in three places and endured many months in and out of military rehabilitation, Grylls recovered and went on to become one of the youngest climbers ever to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
He then went on to star in seven seasons of the Discovery Channel’s Emmy Award-nominated Man vs. Wild TV series, which became one of the most-watched shows on the planet, reaching an estimated 1.2 billion viewers. Since then he has gone on to host more extreme adventure TV shows across more global networks than anyone else in the world, including five seasons of the global hit TV show Running Wild with Bear Grylls.
- Running Wild has featured Bear taking some of the world’s best-known stars on incredible adventures.
- These include President Obama, Julia Roberts, Roger Federer, Will Ferrell, Channing Tatum, and Kate Winslet, to name but a few.
- He also hosts the Emmy Award-nominated interactive Netflix show You Vs Wild as well as Emmy Award-nominated National Geographic landmark series Hostile Planet.
He has also won two BAFTAS for his Channel 4 show The Island with Bear Grylls. Bear has also taken Prime Minister Modi of India into the wilderness which achieved a landmark record as the ‘world’s most trending televised event, with a staggering 3.6 BILLION impressions’.
- Bear and MGM recently partnered with Amazon Prime to establish the global hit TV series: The World Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge.
- His autobiography, Mud Sweat and Tears, spent 15 weeks at Number 1 in the Sunday Times bestseller list and he has written over 95 books, selling in excess of 20 million copies worldwide.
He is an Honorary Colonel to the Royal Marines Commandos, the youngest ever UK Chief Scout, and the first ever Chief Ambassador to the World Scout Organization, representing a global family of some fifty million Scouts. He is married to Shara, with three boys and they live between a houseboat on the Thames in London and a private island off the Welsh coast.
How old is an SAS soldier
Entry Requirements – SAS Eligibility Criteria – The SAS section is for reservists; however, to find qualified individuals to become a part of the team the Army looks from within the enlisted, officer, and reserve units. Like the Special Boat Services of the Navy, a candidate either needs to be in the last 6 months of enlistment or already in the reserves to become a part of this special unit to enter at an age of 34 years.
Any male that is 18 to 32 without prior military service can become a part of the special unit. The age limit is up to 42 years for staying in the unit, but training and acceptance has to occur at 32 years or 34 years depending on military service. Besides age there are other requirements to fulfil. Volunteers into this unit need to be able to travel overseas for deployment, pass a fitness and commitment test.
The SAS unit is physically difficult, as well as mentally demanding. The selection course occurs twice each year and assesses aptitude and continuation.
How hard is SAS selection and training? – The British SAS shares many similarities with the Navy SEALs but does not have a focus on maritime operations. A more accurate comparison might be between the SEALs and the Special Boat Service (SBS). However, even when comparing these two units, it cannot be easy to make direct comparisons as they have different areas of expertise and approaches to their work. SAS vs. Navy SEALs: The British SAS selection course is the toughest in the world (Photo: SAS) The SAS is known for its expertise in hostage rescue and counter-terrorism operations. It is renowned for its rigorous selection and training program, including challenging physical tests such as cross-country marches, jungle treks, and mountain climbs.
How long is SAS training?
British SAS Selection Course Training Plan / / / / / / British SAS Selection Course Training Plan $ 109.00
- 10-week, 6 day/week training program designed to prepare athletes for the British Special Air Service, Special Boat Service, and Special Reconnaissance Regiment Selection Course
- Ruck and endurance focused to prepare for the loads and volume at selection
- This training plan is one of the 250+ plans included with an
This is a selection-specific 10-week, 6 day/week training program specifically designed to prepare athletes for the British Special Air Service (SAS), Special Boat Service (SBS), and Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) Selection Course. The plan includes a 2-week taper, and is designed to be completed the 10 weeks directly prior to your course start week.
Who were the real SAS Rogue Heroes
SAS Rogue Heroes: New images show real Paddy Mayne of Who Dares Unit Published: 13:27 BST, 17 May 2023 | Updated: 11:09 BST, 26 May 2023
- A series of unseen images showing original members of the SAS in the are set to fetch thousands of pounds at auction.
- The photographs, described as an ‘exceptional find’, offer a rare pictorial glimpse into the day-to-day life of men who served in the British Army’s top secret special forces unit, which was formed in 1941.
- They appear in a unique photo album owned by Lance Corporal Gerald Hutchinson, of the 1st SAS Regiment.
- The trove shows SAS troopers on manoeuvres in the desert of North Africa and later in ski uniforms during training exercises.
- Among them is renowned SAS commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Paddy Mayne, who was infamous for his violent antics.
A series of unseen images showing original members of the SAS in the Second World War are set to fetch thousands of pounds at auction. Above: Lieutenant-Colonel Paddy Mayne, one of the original SAS members The photographs, described as an ‘exceptional find’, offer a rare pictorial glimpse into the day-to-day life of men who served in the British Army’s top secret special forces unit, which was formed in 1941.
- Mayne and Lieutenant-Colonel David Stirling, the unit’s founder, were portrayed in recent hit BBC series SAS Rogue Heroes.
- The military collection includes Lance Corporal Hutchinson’s full set of medals and corresponding miniatures, rare uniform cloth badges, scrapbooks, poems and associated paperwork, including a certificate signed by Mayne.
- It states Lance Corporal Hutchinson served in the 1st Special Air Service Regiment from 1942 to 1945 during campaigns in the Western Desert and Italy, and that he was awarded the 1939/45 Africa Star with 8th Army Clasp and the Italy Star.
- The collection will be offered in Hansons Auctioneers’ Medals and Militaria Auction in Etwall, Derbyshire, on June 15 with a guide price of £4,000 to £5,000.
- The firm’s militaria consultant Matt Crowson said: ‘This could be the find of the year.
- ‘It’s an exceptional collection offering a pictorial insight of day-to-day life for SAS regiment soldiers in the 1940s.
‘It deserves to perform well at auction. The guide price has been set at £4,000 to £5,000 but I’m confident it may eclipse that and hammer closer to £10,000 based on previous auction results. The images appear in a unique photo album set for auction as part of a military collection relating to Lance Corporal Gerald Hutchinson (pictured), of the 1st SAS Regiment.
- ‘I understand from the seller, Gerald Hutchinson’s grandson, that his grandfather was a very humble man.
- ‘He rarely spoke about his wartime experiences but occasionally pulled out the photo album if asked to share wartime stories.’
- Lance Corporal Hutchinson was born in Scotland in 1922 and later relocated to the north of England.
- In the post-war era he emigrated to Canada, becoming a miner for a number of years.
He later worked for the Department of Health and Social Security until his retirement. He died in 1989 at the age of 67.
- Mr Crowson added: ‘The family don’t really want to part with the collection but feel it is so important it deserves to be in a war museum or preserved as part of Britain’s WW2 historical records.’
- As well as his exploits in the SAS, Lieutenant-Colonel Mayne also played professional rugby and was capped for Ireland and the British Lions.
- He was also an amateur boxer and worked as a lawyer.
An image from Lance Corporal Hutchinson’s collection shows senior members of the SAS Members of the SAS are seen posing for a group photograph on a skiing trip Two members of the SAS enjoy a spot of lunch next to their skis. The image is from Lance Corporal Hutchinson’s archive Members of the SAS are seen during the Second World War in another image from the archive Members of the SAS are seen sitting at mounted machine guns on their Jeeps
- During the Second World War, he became one of the British Army’s most highly decorated soldiers.
- However, he was controversially denied a Victoria Cross, despite a recommendation by Allied commander Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, who in a citation singled out his ‘brilliant military leadership and cool calculating courage’, as well as a ‘single act of bravery’.
- His heroics included leading armoured Jeep squadrons through the front lines toward Oldenburg, Germany.
- He rescued wounded men and eliminated a German machine-gun position.
Lance Corporal Hutchinson’s war service certificate shows the medals he was awarded The military collection includes Lance Corporal Hutchinson’s full set of medals and corresponding miniatures, rare uniform cloth badges, scrapbooks, poems and associated paperwork, including a certificate signed by Mayne
- The SAS was founded as a regiment in 1941 by David Stirling and in 1950 was reconstituted as a corps.
- The unit specialises in a number of roles including counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, direct action and covert reconnaissance.
- Much of the information about the SAS is highly classified, and the unit is not commented on by either the British government or the Ministry of Defence due to the secrecy and sensitivity of its operations.
- It famously came to public attention in the 1980 siege of the Iranian embassy, when soldiers rescued 24 hostages as millions watched on the television news.
: SAS Rogue Heroes: New images show real Paddy Mayne of Who Dares Unit
What happened to the man who started the SAS
Image source, Getty Images Image caption, Colonel David Stirling with a patrol of Special Air Service (SAS) men David Stirling, the Scot known as the founder of the SAS, was not what you would expect of a military hero. When he arrived in Cairo in 1941, the 25-year-old lacked the most basic discipline, had never seen any actual fighting and could not even march straight.
- He was so tall and lazy his comrades nicknamed him The Giant Sloth.
- One report from his senior officers described him as “irresponsible and unremarkable”.
- Yet within a year Stirling, along with fellow Commando Jock Lewes, had developed a brand new way of taking on the German and Italian forces who were dominating North Africa.
A six-part drama series recounting the exploits of Stirling and Lewes – SAS Rogue Heroes – is currently being shown on BBC One and the iPlayer. Image source, Robert Viglasky Image caption, Jock Lewes (Alfie Allen), David Stirling (Connor Swindells) and Paddy Mayne (Jack O’Connell) in a scene from SAS Rogue Heroes Connor Swindells, star of Netflix hit Sex Education, plays Stirling and Game Of Thrones actor Alfie Allen stars as Lewes.
- Actor Jack O’Connell plays one of the original volunteers, Paddy Mayne, an Irish rugby international who Stirling claimed he had found in prison awaiting court martial for knocking out his commanding officer.
- The TV series was created by Steven Knight and is based on the book of the same name by Ben Macintyre, who also narrated a BBC TV documentary on the subject in 2017.
Mr Macintyre tells how Stirling was born into one of Scotland’s grandest families at Keir House, close to Bridge of Allan, near Stirling. He went to a private boarding school near York before studying at the University of Cambridge, where he did not settle.
- Stirling was an eccentric dreamer who had gone to Paris to become an artist while also hoping to be the first man to climb Mount Everest.
- He joined the Scots Guards at the outbreak of World War Two before being transferred to a newly-formed strike force, the Commandos.
- Media caption, Lieutenant ‘Jock’ Lewes set up a gruelling, experimental training programme for the unit.
He was posted to Cairo but was frustrated when one combat mission after another was cancelled. In Egypt he met Lewes, another wealthy soldier in search of adventure. One of their first acts was to strap parachutes to their backs and jump out of a plane, despite neither of them having had any training.
- I was a bit unlucky because my parachute when it opened was attached to the tail plane,” Stirling said decades later.
- Before it broke lose it took off a panel or two of the parachute.
- I descended a good deal faster than my companion.” It looked like he might not walk again due to the injuries he sustained, and he spent weeks in hospital – but remarkably made a full recovery.
Along with Lewes, he dreamt up a scheme for a new army unit that was imaginative, radical and entirely against the rules. “It had to be regarded as a new type of force, to extract the very maximum out of surprise and guile,” he told the BBC in 1987. Their idea was to destroy aircraft on the ground by using small raiding parties who would be able to penetrate behind enemy lines without warning.
- Somehow the lowly lieutenant’s plans were taken seriously as a way to help the British counter-attack against Rommel in North Africa.
- It is possible his superiors thought it was worth trying as if it failed all that would be lost would be a handful of adventurers.
- Media caption, A sense of duty and frustration with the war effort led Jock Lewes to help form the unit Stirling was promoted to captain and authorised to raise a force of six officers and 60 men – and the Special Air Service (SAS) was born.
When interviewed by the BBC years later, Stirling said he deliberately recruited brave and unconventional rogues. He said they were a “band of vagabonds” who were trying to escape from conventional regimental discipline. “They weren’t really controllable, they all had this individuality,” he said.
“The object was to give them the same purpose.” After Lewes took them through a course of basic training unlike anything the Army had seen before, the SAS’s first mission was to parachute into the desert and plant bombs on enemy aircraft. Media caption, David Stirling, speaking in 1987, describes the first base camp for the new SAS The weather was atrocious, with heavy rain and winds of at least 30 knots, twice the maximum speed for parachuting.
High command sent Stirling a message allowing him to cancel the mission. “We refused absolutely,” he said. So five ancient RAF planes struggled through a ferocious storm with 55 paratroopers ready to jump over the target. One by one they hurled themselves into the gale, with most landing miles from the drop zone.
- The mission was a total disaster and only 21 returned.
- It was tragic because there was so much talent in those we lost,” Stirling said.
- Image source, Getty Images Image caption, In 2002, an SAS memorial was erected at Doune near the Stirling family’s estate Despite this calamity, Stirling was allowed to try again – this time with the vehicles from the LRDG (Long Range Desert Group) driving them for days across the desert to strike under cover of darkness.
By early morning, Stirling and the LRDG had disappeared back into the Great Sand Sea, leaving behind them an epic trail of destruction and a bewildered enemy. It was the first of a series of raids that terrorised and demoralised the German and Italian forces.
The death of Lewes at the end of December 1941 was a major setback for the SAS detachment, but by then they had destroyed 90 planes and left almost as many enemy dead. Over the next year, their tactics evolved to include raids from heavily-armed Jeeps. German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel was said to have dubbed Stirling “The Phantom Major” after these devastating hit-and-run operations.
And Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill was dazzled when he met Stirling in Cairo in August 1942. Image source, Getty Images Image caption, David Stirling was behind a private armed force in the 1970s Soon after that the SAS was upgraded from a detachment to a regiment and Stirling was made Lieutenant Colonel.
- But in January 1943, he was finally captured by the enemy and spent most of the rest of the war in Italian or German prisoner-of-war camps, including Colditz.
- After the war, Stirling was appointed an OBE – but he was still a rebel and someone who did not play by the rules.
- His many post-war adventures included a company that handled arms deals between Britain and the Gulf states, as well as a private military company.
Stirling was also behind GB75, a private armed force, which said it was ready to take over if the UK lurched leftwards in the mid-1970s. Despite his chequered post-war record he was knighted in 1990, the year he died at the age of 74. In 2002, an SAS memorial was erected at Doune near the family’s Stirlingshire estate.
What happened to the original men of the SAS?
Former SAS Special Operative Alec Borrie was often supported by The Taxi Charity (Picture: The Taxi Charity). One of the last surviving original members of the Special Air Service – nicknamed ‘Boy’ due to being hired for the elite unit at just 19 by legendary SAS commander Lieutenant Colonel Paddy Mayne – has died.
- Second World War veteran Lance Corporal (Retired) Alexander ‘Alec’ Campbell Borrie, 98, who worked behind enemy lines to assist the Resistance in France, the Netherlands and Germany, died in Darent Valley Hospital, Kent.
- Of being recruited into the SAS, Mr Borrie recalled, in an article by History Of War, being interviewed by Lt Col Mayne, saying: “I can’t remember much but I do know that he asked me how I felt about killing people.
“I said, ‘I haven’t done it, but I think it’ll be OK’ — he obviously accepted that.” Mr Borrie was a regular beneficiary of The Taxi Charity which provides free transportation and events for military veterans. Instead of funeral flowers, Mr Borrie’s family have asked for donations to be made to the charity and have set up a JustGiving page, SAS Special Operative LCpl (Ret’d) Alec Borrie, pictured while serving (Picture: Alec Borrie). Born in August 1924, WW2 veteran Alec Borrie volunteered for the British Army in 1942 and joined the Gordon Highlanders. After four months of training, there were no vacancies in the battalions, so he was sent to the Highland Light Infantry and his first mission was on the Orkney Islands looking for spies. Alec Borrie pictured with his framed portrait of Lt Col Paddy Mayne (Picture: Perry Smith). The weather was terrible so when, in 1944, they were looking for volunteers for the Parachute Regiment, the Commandos and the newly formed Special Air Service, Mr Borrie volunteered for the SAS, having no idea at that time what he was to expect.
- After being interviewed and accepted, Mr Borrie became part of the Special Forces unit and did his training near Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, during which about 30 men were eventually whittled down to 15 during the process.
- Some of the SAS went to D-Day – codenamed Operation Overlord by Allied forces and the largest amphibious invasion in history – but Mr Borrie was dropped off in France a few days later.
After picking up a Jeep, he drove through the German lines towards the south of Paris – just 150 miles from the frontline. Volunteer Graham Pike from The Taxi Charity with veteran Alec Borrie (Picture: The Taxi Charity). Once behind the lines, the young Special Forces operative didn’t see another English person for two months. One of the first things Mr Borrie was involved with was shooting a small convoy which turned out to be much bigger than thought so it was very nearly his first and last action.
Co-ordinated through the wireless, the SAS helped the Resistance by dropping in food and aiding with training. Many of the original members of the SAS were either killed in action or betrayed and shot as spies. Mr Borrie served with the SAS for two years and then, upon his transition to civilian life, became a carpenter.
He is a father and grandfather and lived in Slade Green, south east London. Huge thanks to Pierre Jean-Cabut, who sends me this wonderful photo, of Alec Borrie and other WWII SAS veterans, on a reunion in France, giving the V for Victory from the jeep.
Bravo! We remember them.🙏 pic.twitter.com/u6XdFpppiN — Damien Lewis (@authordlewis) April 22, 2023 Perry Smith, a volunteer for The Taxi Charity and Mr Borrie’s friend, said: “I would visit him weekly and we would enjoy catching up over his favourite fare, a bacon sandwich followed by a jam doughnut.
“We would talk about a wide variety of subjects, not just his military experiences, which were colourful, to say the least. “Sadly, Alec broke an ankle and caught Covid twice, leading to him not getting the physio he needed and confining him to bed over the last 12 months.
- He never lost heart or his sense of humour.
- His passing is a sad loss, but he’ll not be forgotten.” Our volunteer Perry Smith shared this picture of Roy Maxwell and Alec Borrie.
- Roy served with Perry’s late father-in-law in 4 Cdo on D Day and Alec 1st SAS was his very good friend with whom he shared many bacon sandwiches.
‘Roy, Alec RIP. See you both at the final RV.’ Perry pic.twitter.com/CbcfRE1r7v — Taxi Charity (@TaxiCharity) May 31, 2023 Dick Goodwin, honorary secretary of The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, said: “Alec was a real character and I loved hearing his tales from the war.
He put all his war memories into his autobiography and I am delighted that I have a signed copy. “For over 30 years Alec attended the Field of Remembrance at Westminster, only missing it during the Covid restrictions. “He will be greatly missed and we send our condolences to his family.” Alec’s funeral will be held at Eltham Cemetery and Crematorium, Crown Woods Way, London, SE9 2AZ at 11:00 on 14 June.
Anyone wanting to donate to The Taxi Charity in lieu of flowers can do so by visiting the JustGiving page here,
Which original SAS soldier is still alive?
EXCLUSIVE: One of WWII’s original SAS members Alec Borrie dies aged 98 Published: 11:18 BST, 26 May 2023 | Updated: 15:05 BST, 26 May 2023
- Tributes have been paid to one of the last surviving members of the original wartime SAS after his death aged 98.
- Lance Corporal Alec Borrie passed away at his home in Dagenham, East, earlier this month after suffering from,
- He had been bedbound for several months after recovering from,
- Referred to by comrades as ‘Boy’ because he was just 18 when he signed up, he served under legendary SAS commander Paddy Mayne, who asked him when he joined the unit in 1944 if he liked ‘killing people’.
- Lance Corporal Borrie was among members of the SAS who were ordered by Winston Churchill to ’cause a nuisance’ by conducting guerilla operations against the Nazis during the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the summer of 1944.
- He later carried out ‘Nazi hunting’ operations inside Germany in April and May 1945 under Mayne’s command before he was badly injured a few weeks before VE Day when his Jeep was blown up by a mine.
Tributes have been paid to one of the last surviving members of the original wartime SAS after his death aged 98. Lance Corporal Alec Borrie (pictured above in front of his Jeep bearing the SAS’s famous winged dagger badge) passed away at his home in Dagenham, East London, earlier this month after being bedbound for several months following a coronavirus diagnosis Lance Corporal is seen in his bed at his home in Dagenham holding a specially commissioned oil painting of Commander Paddy Mayne.
- Lance Corporal Borrie’s death means that Mike Sadler, 102, is the only surviving member of the original SAS, which was formed in 1941 by Lieutenant-Colonel David Stirling.
- Paying an emotional tribute to him, historian Damien Lewis, who interviewed Lance Corporal Borrie just a few weeks before his death, said he was the ‘bravest of the brave’ – a reference to a moving line in a poem by Irishman James Clarence Mangan.
- The full verse reads: ‘Twas there I first beheld, drawn up in file and line, the brilliant Irish hosts; they came, the bravest of the brave.’
Speaking to MailOnline, Mr Lewis, the author of SAS Great Escapes, said: ‘Alec was lovely. He was a typical SAS guy. He was irreverent. He was sparky. ‘He was a maverick. He was very single minded. He had that leftfield way of thinking that you need to have in that unit.
- Born in Soho Square in London in 1924, Lance Corporal Borrie was making bomb boxes for engineering firm Vickers when he signed up to the British Army in 1942.
- He initially joined the Gordon Highlanders but was then transferred to the Highland Light Infantry and then posted to the Orkney Islands in northern Scotland.
- In an interview with History of War Magazine, he told how he volunteered for the Special Air Service because he ‘wanted to get off the Orkney Islands’, which were ‘like the Arctic’.
Lance Corporal Borrie is seen with fellow SAS members (from left to right) Joe Craig, Chris Tilling, Arthur Smith and Woody Woodford in France in 1944 Lance Corporal Borrie (centre) is seen with comrades alongside a car bearing the SAS insignia Lance Corporal Borrie (right) is seen with comrades Joe Craig (left) and Arthur Middleton in Brussels Lance Corporal Borrie is seen with SAS comrades posing beneath a sign pointing towards Brussels
- He added that he did not know what the SAS was when he signed up with two others, both of whom also survived the war.
- During a ten-minute interview, Mayne asked him how he ‘felt about killing people’, prompting Lance Corporal Borrie to say: ‘I haven’t done it but I think it will be ok.’
- Lance Corporal Borrie initially underwent a period of intensive training on the Scottish moors, where he and other recruits carried out parachute jumps.
- The SAS’s task was to slow down the advance of German reinforcements towards Normany, which was invaded by the Allies on June 6, 1944, better known as D-Day.
- The guerilla tactics carried out by Lance Corporal Borrie and others were made especially dangerous by Adolf Hitler’s infamous ‘Commando Order’, which stated that Allied commandos should be killed immediately on capture.
- With casualty rates pushing 50 per cent, the risks involved for Lance Corporal Borrie were immense.
- He was among the men who were initially dropped behind enemy lines between Lyon and Dijon.
- After arriving, they ‘shot up’ a German armoured convoy before driving around the French countryside in Jeeps, looking for targets to attack.
- The men were heavily armed, carrying weapons including a Vickers K machine gun, reams of ammunition and explosives.
- The SAS were also tasked with training and supplying members of the French resistance during their two months in France.
- They then moved to liberated Belgium before being posted north to the Netherlands.
- Lance Corporal Borrie was then sent back to Britain for what was meant to be a month of leave, but within two weeks the men were ordered to head back to Europe ahead of the Allied invasion of Germany.
- It was while in Oldenburg, Lower Saxony, that Lance Corporal Borrie witnessed an incredible act of bravery by Mayne, which saw him recommended for the Victoria Cross.
- With Lance Corporal Borrie and others pinned down following an ambush, Mayne single-handedly ‘wiped out’ a pillbox and killed German snipers before saving two injured SAS members.
- Mayne’s VC was later downgraded to a third bar on his Distinguished Service Order, much to Lance Corporal Borrie’s dismay.
- As members of 1st SAS advanced through Germany, they encountered surrendering German troops as the Allies neared victory.
- However, just three weeks before VE Day, Lance Corporal Borrie’s own war came to an end when the Jeep he was in was driven over a land mine.
- One man died whilst Lance Corporal Borrie and another man were badly injured.
- The pair were sent home to Manchester before being transferred to Dartford in Kent.
- He recovered from his injuries but had little time to celebrate when he was told the SAS were being sent to the Far East to fight Japan, which was yet to surrender.
- But after the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese commanders finally conceded defeat and so the SAS remained at home.
- Lance Corporal Borrie left the SAS when it was controversially disbanded shortly after the war.
Lance Corporal Borrie (left) is seen with former comrades PJ Cabut and Jack Man, at Sennecey-le-Grand in 2019 Lance Corporal Borrie poses at the wheel of a Jeep with former SAS comrades during a reunion
- Mr Lewis, who visited Lance Corporal Borrie at his home in January, said: ‘Alec said to me three months ago with real vehemence, “they couldn’t wait to get rid of us”.
- “We were deeply unpopular because we did what was right, not what was political or what we were ordered to do.”
- ‘Paddy Mayne in particular was greatly disliked because he abhorred chair born warriors who had never earned their spurs in battle.
- ‘He believed they had no right to be in a position of respect.’
- He kept talking abut what it was like going into battle with Mayne as their commander.
‘H wanted to put back on the record what an amazing commander Mayne was. He was never a bully. ‘Alec never saw that for one moment. He was loved by those he commanded.
- ‘If Mayne ordered you to go into the jaws of hell, you somehow felt that under him you had the best possible chance of coming out alive.
- ‘He led from the front so inspired others to follow him.’
- Mr Lewis had a portrait of Mayne commissioned which was hung above Lance Corporal Borrie’s bed at his home.
- ‘He said with real emotion “thank god I’ve got my commander watching over me again”, Mr Lewis recalled.
- ‘He knew was pretty much on the end run in terms of his life.
- ‘There he had Paddy Mayne watching over his bed and it really made him feel that sense of safety and certainty.
- ‘It was really a very emotional moment.’
- Lance Corporal Borrie, who spent most of his life in Dartford and then Slade Green in south-east London, left the Army in 1947 and worked as a carpenter until his retirement.
He met nurse Jean Spurgeon, his future wife, on New Year’s Eve in 1949. She had served in the Red Cross during the war. The couple met at a dance, where a glass chandelier collapsed and hit Lance Corporal Borrie on the head. Jean nursed him as he recovered from his injuries, although he later admitted: ‘I had not been hurt at all but I took full advantage of the fact everybody thought I had.’ By 1952, he had saved enough money to get married and the pair tied the knot in Bexleyheath, south-east London, in June that year.
- Lance Corporal Borrie looks through an old photo album while in bed at his home in Dagenham Author Damien Lewis poses with Lance Corporal Borrie at his home in Dagenham earlier this year Lance Corporal Borrie met nurse Jean Spurgeon (above), his future wife, on New Year’s Eve in 1949.
- She had served in the Red Cross during the war As well as his exploits in the SAS, Mayne (pictured above) also played professional rugby and was capped for Ireland and the British Lions Their son Edmund was born in July 1958.
Jean passed away in January 2000. Lance Corporal Borrie is survived by his son.
- Mayne and Lieutenant-Colonel Stirling were portrayed in recent hit BBC series SAS Rogue Heroes.
- As well as his exploits in the SAS, Mayne also played professional rugby and was capped for Ireland and the British Lions.
- He was also an amateur boxer and worked as a lawyer.
- The SAS was reconstituted as a corps in 1950 and famously came to public attention in the 1980 siege of the Iranian embassy, when soldiers rescued 24 hostages as millions watched on the television news.
: EXCLUSIVE: One of WWII’s original SAS members Alec Borrie dies aged 98