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Subdeacon Joe

A History of the Special Air Service

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The SAS secret hidden since World War II

 

A secret World War II diary of the British special forces unit, the SAS, has been kept hidden since it was created in 1946. Now it's being published for the first time to mark the 70th anniversary of the regiment. The BBC has exclusive access to the remarkable piece of history.

 

It was 1946; World War II was over and so was the Special Air Service, better known as the SAS.

 

Set up in 1941 by David Stirling, a lieutenant in the Scots Guards at the time, it had changed the way wars were fought, dispensing with standard military tactics and making up its own. But in the new post-war world those in charge no longer saw a need for the regiment. It had been disbanded and there were no plans to revive it.

 

But for one former SAS soldier it wasn't over. Determined that the regiment's story wouldn't fade away and become a footnote in history, he made it his job to find and preserve whatever documents and photographs he could before they were lost forever. It was his final SAS mission.

 

Major J Tonkin was captured in France on 3 October 1943. He filed this report after escaping:

 

At about 1100 hours a corporal brought me water to wash in and said that General Heidrich wanted to see me and that it was his custom to entertain all British paratroop officers whom he captured.

 

Heidrich was a man of medium size, rather chubby, with light hair and pale eyes of indeterminate colour. He was inclined to be bald, and although pleasant enough, gave one the impression that he could be ruthless.

 

Topics of conversation were obviously going to be tricky, but he started off with a formal invitation to lunch, and would I like chicken or pork? He added that it was immaterial which one I chose, as it was "borrowed" from the Italians, and of course I would think it looting. Being hungry I hastened to assure him that I called it "living off the land" when I partook of the deed. So chicken it was!

 

The last subject he talked about was what a beautiful stroke the Termoli landing had been. It had inconvenienced them a great deal and was perfectly timed. Then the German corps commander came in and I was taken away.

 

The next day I escaped while being moved.

 

As it turned out the elite force's expertise was still needed and it was resurrected just a year later in 1947. And by then the soldier's personal mission had resulted in something unique - a diary of the SAS in WWII.

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I worked with some SAS chaps occasionally. They are superb soldiers.

And a bit mad.

Who Dares, Wins.

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I worked with some SAS chaps occasionally. They are superb soldiers.

And a bit mad.

Who Dares, Wins.

 

Which likely helped, considering their first mission.

 

http://ww2db.com/images/vehicle_jeep68.jpg

 

http://ww2db.com/image.php?image_id=11820

 

http://ww2db.com/image.php?image_id=11821

 

By the way, that site has a FANTASTIC collection of photos. http://ww2db.com/photo.php

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I always thought it was interesting how they turned the Desert Rats into Americans for TV. <_<

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No doubt about it. The JEEP won the land war in the ETO.

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I always thought most of those SF guys were "a bit mad.'

 

We prefer "innovative". <_<

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well at £999 a copy ($about 1500 to 1600 depending on the exchange rate) I doubt I will see a copy at any libraries in these parts.... but it does look like it would be an interesting read

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Which likely helped, considering their first mission.

 

http://ww2db.com/image.php?image_id=11820

 

By the way, that site has a FANTASTIC collection of photos. http://ww2db.com/photo.php

 

There was one of these SAS Jeeps at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro last year. They had very realistic Vickers K guns and Ma Deuce, all rigged to fire with a propane device that simulated...in sight and sound...the real thing. I commented on a quarter ton truck with over a half ton load and was told that "these are not your grandfather's jeeps". The man who owned this one gave me a run-down on all the modifications , starting with a bigger radiator with "surge tanks" for even more cooling capacity. There's a group around here that owns a several SAS vehicles and has a bunch of re-enactors.

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You hear about the SAS fairly often, very seldom about the SBS. I may be wrong but I pretty much compared them to the Special Forces and Seals. Am I wrong?

 

shenny

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Then there is USMC Force Recon.

 

Big Jake

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You hear about the SAS fairly often, very seldom about the SBS. I may be wrong but I pretty much compared them to the Special Forces and Seals. Am I wrong?

 

shenny

 

While there are similarities, the main role of Special Forces is to work closely with indigenous forces; training and equipping them. A 12 man A team is prepared to train and employ a force of over 1,000 troops to be used in a counter insurgency or guerrilla role. While SF can, and has been, used as a direct action force their value lies in being a force multiplier. They are not specifically commandos. The training is extensive, far above what conventional troops receive. They were created for a specific role, to try to make sure small wars don't get bigger.

One major complaint from SF troops has been that they are often employed improperly by conventional commanders who want to use them strictly in a commando roll.

The 2009 book, The Horse Soldiers,gives an excellent account of the SF teams used at the start of the Afghan War and shows how effective they can be when used in their intended role.

 

The SBS is very similar to the SEALS in their mission.

Marine Force Recon and Army Rangers are the main quick strike troops the US military uses. They are organized more like light infantry however and not very similar to the SAS.

One could discuss Delta Force....but they never existed. ;)

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Right, strictly a Hollywood invention. :ph34r: :ph34r:

That's my story and I'm stickin to it. <_<

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