Secrets of the SAS revealed to mark the regiment's 70th anniversary

 

The Top Secret order authorising the first-ever Special Air Service (SAS) operation will be revealed today as part of a diary hidden away by the regiment for more than six decades.

It is included in a giant scrapbook, the SAS War Diary 1941-1945, containing orders, photographs, personal recollections, hand-drawn maps and newspaper cuttings, that is being released publicly to mark the regiment's 70th anniversary.

The order to the founder of the SAS, Captain David Stirling, begins: "Your force will consist of 54 men from 'L' Sec 1 S.A.S Bde. Your primary task is to raid both aerodromes... destroying as many aircraft as possible."

Military historian Gordon Stevens, one of the few people to interview the late Colonel Stirling, said: "So few people knew about the diary. Even within the regiment only a handful of people even knew it existed."

Mr Stevens, with publisher Martin Morgan, convinced the SAS Regimental Association to release the book.

"I was making a film about the SAS, during which I heard about this diary," explained Mr Morgan. "It was six months before I got to see it and six seconds to decide it should be published. It was another six months before I could persuade the regimental association it was a good idea."

The original diary was contained in a giant, leather-bound scrapbook that had been "liberated" from the Nazis. With many pages still blank, the historians added other unseen documents from the regiment and scanned them all to create 5,000, limited edition copies. As faithful as possible to the original, the copies are bound in leather with brass fixings and the pages have been scanned on to heavy paper to replicate the yellowing originals, making the 600-page book a 30lb tome. The only change has been that – apart from a limited 500 given to former SAS members – the Nazi logos on the German bindings have not been replicated.

Inside is an amazing insight into the birth of the SAS – as well as the origins of the Special Boat Squadron (SBS). Interspersed between tales of daring are original typed lists of soldiers killed, injured or captured, giving an unembellished account of their losses. Other lists include the names of men who would go on to become military legends, such as Lt (later Lt Col) Robert "Paddy" Mayne.

The account of the first operation in November 1941, when Stirling was determined to parachute in despite all odds, describes how it ended in disaster with only a third of the men making it out alive, beaten not by the enemy but by the desert. Without faltering, small groups went on to complete three more raids, destroying 88 German and Italian planes.

"The problem we had making it was that everyone who worked on it – graphic artists, printers and hand collators – stopped work and started reading," said Mr Morgan.

"We have had tremendous support and access from the regimental association in order to make this the most complete history we possibly could."

At a time when the regiment has suffered casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, the books are to be sold to benefit its welfare fund. The war diary copies will be sold for £975, with 550 special editions, signed by original soldiers as well as recent Victoria Cross recipients, at up to £2,500.

News
i100
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsAll just to promote a new casino
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SQL Developer

    £500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

    Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java, AI)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-Office D...

    C#.NET Developer

    £500 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, WPF, WCF, ASP.NET, Prism...

    Creche Assistant or Nursery Nurse

    £8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: The Job Creche Assistant to start asap ...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering