Special Air Service

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'Special Air Service'

The Special Air Service (SAS) has its origins in the North African desert. It was formed in 1941 to undertake small-scale raids behind enemy lines. Many of its men were drawn from Commando units in the Middle East including Nos. 7, 8 and 11 and also operated under the title L Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade. A brigade was usually made up of around 5,000 men, so this name was a fiction designed to deceive the enemy.

'Special Raiding Squadron'

In April 1943 1st SAS Regiment was restyled as the Special Raiding Squadron and undertook raids in Sicily and Italy alongside the 2nd Special Air Service, which came into existence in May 1943 in Algeria.
The Special Raiding Squadron was commanded by Major Robert Blair Mayne, better known as 'Paddy'.
In 1944, the S.R.S. and 2 S.A.S. were placed under the umbrella Special Air Service Brigade.
 

ALMONDS, John Edward

Sergeant (later Major )
2655648 and 333683
No 8 Commando
SAS
Coldstream Guards
Special Air Service Regiment
Gloucestershire Regiment
Bristol City Police
Military Medal (MM)
Bar to the Military Medal
Croix de Guerre (France)
John Almonds, an Army Reservist of the Coldstream Guards, joined the Bristol Police Force in 1936. In December 1939 Police Constable Almonds, married, and residing at 15 York Street, Bristol, was re-called to his Regiment [1][1a]. 

BACKHOUSE, Charles, R.

Charles Backhouse 2 commando and 1st SAS
Corporal
2931647
SAS
Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Mentioned in Despatches
Charles Backhouse served with No.2 Commando before joining the 1st S.A.S. [1].
He received a Mention in Despatches for his escape having been taken prisoner of war whilst serving with the 1st SAS [2].
Recommendation 

BANWELL, Keith Demer

Keith Tex Banwell
Sergeant
5498293
22290927
52ME Commando
Hampshire Regiment
Parachute Regiment
British Empire Medal (BEM)
Later joined the Long Range Desert Group (SAS) [1][4].
25 September 1944 reported missing believed prisoner of war at Arnhem whilst serving in the 10th Bn. Parachute Regiment, Army Air Corps [2]

BENNETT, Robert

Lance Sergeant (later Warrant Officer 1)
2617533
22528123
No 8 Commando
SAS
Grenadier Guards
Military Medal (MM)
British Empire Medal (BEM)
Lance Sergeant Robert Bennett joined 'L' Detachment, S.A.S. Brigade on the disbandment of No.8 Commando. He was awarded the Military Medal in recognition of gallant and distinguished service during the December 1941 S.A.S. raid on Tamet areodrome.

BLAKENEY, James

Private
2660354
No 8 Commando
SAS
Army Air Corps
Coldstream Guards
Killed in action or died of wounds
Private James Blakeney was killed in action in Germany serving in 'A' Squadron, 1st Special Air Service. Son of James and Ada Blakeney, of Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire.

BOLDEN, Stanley

Stanley Bolden 12 Commando
Lance Corporal
3316568
No 12 Commando
SAS
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
Military Medal (MM)
Killed in action or died of wounds
Lance Corporal Stanley Bolden, No.12 Commando, was awarded the Military Medal in recognition of gallant and distinguished service in the Field [1][2].

BOLLAND, Stanley

Stanley Bolland
Guardsman
2696934
No 8 Commando
SAS
Scots Guards 2nd Bn
Killed in action or died of wounds
Guardsman Stanley Bolland was serving with  "L" Detachment, S.A.S. Bde., Special Air Service Regiment, A.A.C.

BROOK, Harold

Lance Corporal
2615070
No 8 Commando
SAS
Grenadier Guards
Killed in action or died of wounds
Lance Corporal Harold Brook died [1] during operations in France with 1st Special Air Service Regiment having left the Commandos. He was reported as missing in action during Operation Houndforce [2]. 
 

BROUGH, William Gordon

Lance Sergeant
2695138
No 8 Commando
SAS
Scots Guards 2nd Bn
Army Air Corps
Cheshire Constabulary
Military Medal (MM)
Lance Sergeant William Brough, formerly No.8 Commando before joining 'L' Detachment SAS Brigade in August 1941, was awarded the Military Medal whilst serving with the SAS in recognition of gallant and distinguished service.

BROWN, Leslie Jock

Cpl. Leslie Brown 1st SAS
Corporal
5437777
SAS
No 8 Commando
'Layforce'
51ME Commando
Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
Killed in action or died of wounds
Corporal Leslie Brown had previously served in the Commandos before joining 'B' Squadron of the 1st Special Air Service. He died when his jeep patrol was attacked whilst en route to harass the enemy in Southern Tunisia.
Service*

BYRNE, John Vincent

John Vincent Byrne DCM
Corporal later Company Sergeant Major
2060658
No 11 Commando
SAS
No 6 Commando
Gordon Highlanders
Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)
3 May 1940 wounded at Dunkirk France serving as a Private with 1st Bn. Gordon Highlanders, British Expeditionary Force [1].
Attached to and served with No.11 Commando 8 Troop (Layforce) until disbanded [5][7]. 

CHEYNE, John

Jock Cheyne 11 Commando
Sergeant
2876138
No 11 Commando
Gordon Highlanders
Killed in action or died of wounds
Sergeant John Cheyne, 8 troop, was posted to 'L' Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade, on the 28th August 1941.

COCKBILL, Edward James

Private
5257172
No 8 Commando
SAS
Worcestershire Regiment
Edward Cockbill was a milk salesman before enlisting in the Worcestershire Regiment. From there he volunteered for the Commandos and was attached to No.8 Commando which became part of Layforce for operations in the Middle East.

DAVIDSON, Alexander

Lance Sergeant
2886121
No 11 Commando
SAS
Gordon Highlanders
Army Air Corps
Killed in action or died of wounds
Lance Sergeant Alexander Davidson died of wounds serving with 1 SAS having left the Commando. He had previously been attached to No.11 Commando since August 1940. He also served in the ME Commando and 1SSR.

DRONGIN, Anthony

Regimental Sergeant Major
2695218
No 8 Commando
SAS
Scots Guards
Killed in action or died of wounds

Regimental Sergeant Major Anthony Drongin of No 8 Commando gave up his rank to join L Detachment SAS when 8 Commando was disbanded. He served as a Corporal and is reported to have died of wounds inflicted during SAS operations near Benghazi.

DUFFY, Joseph Aloysius

Private
3318385
No 11 Commando
SAS
Seaforth Highlanders
Died on war service

Private Joseph Duffy joined L Detachment, SAS, from No 11 Commando on the 28th August 1941 and was accidentally killed in training due to a parachute failure, along with his friend and fellow Seaforth Highlander, Private Kenneth Warburton. Location given as East side of the Great Bitter Lake.

FARRAGHER, Kieran Joseph

Warrant Officer Class 2
24155023
95 Cdo. Regt.RA
29 Cdo. Regt.RA
SAS
Royal Artillery
Died in service

Warrant Officer Kieran Farragher, attached to the Special Air Service, died in a climbing accident in Botswana. He had joined the SAS in 1973 having previously served in 95 Commando and 29 Commando Regt RA.

FASSAM, Joseph William

Joseph William Fassam 1st SRS
Lance Bombardier
874242
No 8 Commando
Middle East Commando
SAS
Royal Artillery
Killed in action or died of wounds
Lance Bombardier Joseph Fassam died during operations at Termoli Italy with the Special Raiding Squadron having left the Commando.
Service 
No. 8 Commando;  
4 Special Service Battalion;
'B' Battalion Layforce;

FEEBERY, Cyril

Cyril Feebery 8 Commando
Corporal (later Squadron Sergeant Major)
2615284
No 8 Commando
'Layforce'
SBS
Grenadier Guards
Army Air Corps
Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)
Guardsman Feebery was wounded in 1940 whilst deployed to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. Volunteereed for the Commandos and served as a Corporal in No.8 Commando. Embarked for the Middle East as part of 'B' Bn Layforce.

HEARN, William Herbert

Private
5625251
No 3 Commando
No 8 Commando
SAS
Devonshire Regiment
Killed in action or died of wounds
Private William Hearn died during operations at Termoli, Italy with the Special Raiding Squadron having left the Commando. A shell hit the truck that he was sitting in.
Service 

HERSTELL, Ernest Maxwell

Gunner
14317992
No 6 Commando
Small Scale Raiding Force (62 Commando)
SAS
Royal Artillery
Bristol City Police
Killed in action or died of wounds
Gunner Ernest Herstell served in 6 Commando, then the SSRF (62 Commando) and finally the SAS. He died during operations with 2 SAS at Pantelleria during Operation Snapdragon.

HILDRETH, Sidney James

Lance Corporal
3657806
No 7 Commando
South Lancashire Regiment
Killed in action or died of wounds

Lance Corporal Sidney Hildreth, formerly 7 Commando, was reported missing, later confirmed killed, whilst attached to 'L' Detachment SAS.  He left the Commando to join the SAS on the 30th August 1941 and was fatally injured parachuting into the SAS first raid, Operation Squatter, an abortive atta

KEAY, J.H.

Harry Keay 30 Assault Unit
Gunner (later RQMS)
14256713
30 Commando Assault Unit
SAS
Royal Artillery
Gunner in 34 Troop Special Engineering Unit 30 Commando until disbanded July 1945. Qualified parachutist.
Trooper in the 1st SAS Regiment from 14 September 1945 to 16 November 1945.
Post war member of the Commando Association from Co. Durham.
 

KEITH, Douglas

Private
2882330
No 11 Commando
SAS
Gordon Highlanders
Died on war service
Private Douglas Keith, formerly 11 Commando,  was posted to 'L' Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade, on the 28th August 1941, and was taken prisoner after Operation Squatter.  He died whilst being transported on the Italian prison ship SS Sebastiano Venier, after it was was torpedoed by

LAPPIN, James

Jimmy Lappin 11 Commando and SAS
Corporal
2934114
No 11 Commando
'Layforce'
SAS
Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Mentioned in Despatches
10 Troop of No.11 Commando. 
Took part in the Rommel raid (Operation Flipper)*.
'A' Squadron Middle East Commando.
Special Air Service.
Mentioned in Despatches in recognition of gallant and distinguished service in the Field.
 

LAPRAIK, John Neilson

Acting Captain (later Honorary Colonel)
132519
51ME Commando
SBS
SAS
Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Military Cross (MC)
Bar to the Military Cross
Mentioned in Despatches
Territorial Decoration (TD)
Acting Captain John Neilson Lapraik was awarded the Military Cross for gallant and distinguished service in the Middle East [1].
Recommendation

LAYCOCK, Robert Edward

Major General Robert Edward Laycock
Major General
37258
Special Service Brigade
Royal Horse Guards
Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG)
Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB)
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Knight of the Order of St John (KStJ)
Order of Oranje Nassau with Swords (Netherlands)
Legion of Merit (USA)

Born 1907; educated at Eton College and Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst; joined Royal Horse Guards, Mar 1927, 2nd Lt, 1927; Lt 1930; Capt 1934; married Angela Claire Louise (née Dudley Ward), 1935; instructor on anti-gas and air defence measures, School of Military Engineering, Chatham, Dec 193

LEE, Jack William Raymond

Birth name: 
COURAUD, Raymond Jack William
Lieutenant
221062
General List
SAS
General List
Military Cross (MC)
Lieutenant Jack Lee (born Raymond Jack William Couraud) was a French Liaison Officer attached to No.2 Commando specifically for Operation Chariot, the raid at St. Nazaire 28 March 1942.

LEWES, John Steel

Lieutenant
65419
No 8 Commando
SAS
Welsh Guards
Killed in action or died of wounds
Lieutenant John Lewes was second in command of 'L' Detachment, Special Air Service Bde. He had previously served in No.8 Commando which embarked for the Middle East as part of Layforce.

LILLEY, Ernest Thomas

Guardsman (later RSM 21 SAS)
2660913
No 8 Commando
SAS
Coldstream Guards & South Staffordshire Regiment
Military Cross (MC)
British Empire Medal (BEM)
Mentioned in Despatches
Lance Sergeant Ernest Thomas Lilley was awarded the Military Medal serving with 'L' Detachment Special Air Service having left the Commando.
He had previously served in No. 8 Commando [2].
Recommendation

LIVINGSTONE, Richard Percy

Captain (Temporary Major)
149081
No 6 Commando
SBS
Royal Ulster Rifles
Special Air Service Regiment
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Mentioned in Despatches
Major Richard Livingstone MBE received a Mention in Despatches in recognition of gallant and distinguished service in the field [1][1a].

McCLEMENTS, Thomas

Gunner
1470461
Middle East Commando
SAS
Royal Artillery
Gunner Thomas McClements was reported missing 18 January 1943, then confirmed as a prisoner of war in Italian hands. He was later that year reported no longer a prisoner of war, date of escape 12 September 1943.
 
Sources

MCNINCH, William Matthew

William McNinch MM
Lance Sergeant
327865
No 11 Commando
SAS
Royal Armoured Corps
Military Medal (MM)
Killed in action or died of wounds

Lance Sergeant William McNinch died during operations at Termoli Italy with the Special Raiding Squadron having left the Commando. A veteran of the Litani River raid he died when a shell hit the truck that he was sitting in.

MONTGOMERIE, Tom

Captain
62629
No 4 Commando
SBS
Black Watch
Died on active service
Commissioned February 1934. Officer Commanding No.4 Commando 'A' Troop. Left the Commando 8 July 1941. Attached No.8 Infantry Training Centre until joining the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers in September 1941. Embarked for the Middle East arriving late November.

MUNACHEN, James

Corporal
3318575
No 7 Commando
SAS
Highland Light Infantry

Corporal James Munachen served in No.11 Commando before joining 'L' Detachment Special Air Service. He was reported missing 16 November 1941 during Operation Squatter, the first parachute raid carried out by the SAS on the enemy fighter bases at Gazala and Timimi, Libya.

MUNRO, George

Sergeant
3323555
No 11 Commando
50ME Commando
SBS
Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment) 2nd Bn.
Killed in action or died of wounds
Sergeant George Munro, a veteran of the Litani River raid, died during operations with the S.B.S., on the island of Samos after leaving the Commando.
Postings
Sep   1940 - volunteered for 11 Cdo.

MUSK, Eric

Eric Musk 7 Commando
Lance Corporal
5830939
No 7 Commando
Cambridgeshire Regiment

Lance Corporal Eric Musk was wounded during operations in Crete on 28 May 1941 whilst his unit were designated as part of Layforce. He avoided capture at Crete and later served in the SAS.

NIXON, Malvern

Private
3056939
No 11 Commando
SAS
Royal Scots
Killed in action or died of wounds
Private Malvern Nixon died when his jeep patrol was attacked whilst en route to harass the enemy in Southern Tunisia.

PINCKNEY, Philip Hugh

Captain
100670
No 12 Commando
SAS
Royal Artillery
Executed

Captain Philip Pinckney was executed whilst a prisoner of war. At the time he was serving with 2 SAS and had been captured on Operation Speedwell after parachuting with 6 others into Bologna, Italy. The aim of the operation was to disrupt enemy railway movements.

POWELL, Adrian Mark

Trooper
24876485
29 Cdo. Regt.RA
SAS
Royal Artillery
Died in service

Trooper Adrian Powell died in a road traffic collision whilst serving with the SAS. He had previously served with  7 and 148 Btys. of 29 Commando Regt. RA, and 7 RHA.  He died when the vehicle in which he was travelling overturned while on way to training exercises near Nairobi in Kenya.

PROUT, Charles Leslie

Charles Leslie Prout
Private
2929485
No 4 Independent Company
No 2 Commando
Middle East Commando
SAS
Liverpool Scottish Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Army Air Corps
Service: No.4 independent Company; 1 Special Service Bn; embarked for Malta with Force 'X' serving alongside the SBS; 'A' Squadron Middle East Commando; joined 1st SAS for a short period before transferring to the Parachute Regiment; wounded 18 September 1944 with Paras at Arnh

RALPHS, Edward

Private
3656776
No 7 Commando
SAS
South Lancashire Regiment
Military Medal (MM)
Private Edward Ralphs was awarded the Military Medal whilst serving in the Special Raiding Squadron [1][2]. He had previously served in No.7 Commando [3].
Recommendation

REED, Neville

Lance Sergeant (later Major)
5827421
459426
No 1 Commando
SAS
3rd Carabiniers Prince of Wales's Dragoon Guards
Mentioned in Despatches
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Lance Sergeant Neville Reed served in No 1 Commando.
  • Post war he was RSM of 22 Special Air Service Regiment in Malaya. [1] 

RILEY, Charles George Gibson

Guardsman (later Captain)
2656281 and 281325
No 8 Commando
'Layforce'
SAS
Coldstream Guards
Isle of Ely Constabulary
Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)
15 January 1934 enlisted Coldstream Guards former trade Quarryman; 1937 to Army Reserve List; 1 January 1938 joined Isle of Ely Constabulary; September 1939 mobilised Coldstream Guards; 1940 No.8 Commando; Layforce; 1st Special Service Regiment; September 1941 'L' Detachment SAS; January - Apri

SEEKINGS, Albert Reginald

Albert Reginald Seekings 7 Commando and SAS
Private (later Warrant Officer 1 (SAS)
5933155
No 7 Commando
SAS
Cambridgeshire Regiment
Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)
Military Medal (MM)
Mentioned in Despatches
Albert Reginald Seekings served in No.7 Commando. Due to illness he did not take part in the Crete landings after which he joined 'L' Detachment SAS [1][2].
 
Distinguished Conduct Medal

SENIOR, Fred

Fred Senior 1st SAS
Lance Sergeant
2696965
No 8 Commando
Middle East Commando
SAS
Scots Guards 2nd Bn
Killed in action or died of wounds
Lance Sergeant Fred Senior died when his jeep patrol was attacked whilst en route to harass the enemy in Southern Tunisia. He was serving with 1st SAS ('B' Sqn.) at the time of his death having left the Commandos.

SHORTEN, Raymond Herbert

Lieutenant
163658
52ME Commando
'Layforce'
SAS
General List
Killed in action or died of wounds
Lieutenant Raymond Shorten left the Commando in July 1942 to join 'L' Detachment SAS. He  died in October during operations with the SAS at Sidi Barrani.
 
 Nov 40, enlisted General List
 Dec 40, 52 ME Cdo
 Jan 41, wounded

SILLETT, Thomas John

Private
5672780
No 8 Commando
SAS
Somerset Light Infantry 5th Bn
Died on active service
Private Thomas Sillett died of illness (diptheria) whilst serving with 1st SAS, 'A' Sqn.  He had joined No 8 Commando in 1940 and embarked with them for the Middle East at the end of January 1941 as part of Layforce.  He later left the Commandos and joined 'L' Detachment SAS in June 1942.

STAPLES, Montague

Corporal of Horse
304543
No 8 Commando
Middle East Commando
SAS
Royal Horse Guards
Killed in action or died of wounds
Montague Staples was killed serving with the 1st SAS, 'C' Sqn. having left the Commando. 

STONE, Sidney James

Sergeant
2692673
No 8 Commando
SAS
Scots Guards
Killed in action or died of wounds

Sergeant Sidney Stone was serving with  "L" Detachment, S.A.S. Bde Special Air Service Regiment, A.A.C. at the time of his death, having previously served in No. 8 Commando.

TAIT, Duncan Robert

Duncan Robert Tait 11 Commando
Corporal (Acting Sergeant)
2888693
No 11 Commando
SAS
London Scottish The Gordon Highlanders
Military Medal (MM)
Bar to the Military Medal
Lance Corporal Bob Tait, No.11 Commando 8 Troop [image in gallery], attached to Layforce, was awarded the Military Medal [1] in recognition of gallant and distinguished conduct during operations at Litani River, Syria, 9/10 June 1941 [2].

TERRY, Jack

Sgt Jack Terry DCM 11 Commando
Sergeant
880535
No 11 Commando
'Layforce'
SAS
Royal Artillery
Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)
Sergeant Jack Terry was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal [1] in recognition of gallant and distinguished services during the Rommel raid in the Middle East. It was during this raid that his commanding officer Lt. Col. Geoffrey Keyes was killed. Sgt.

TINNION, Bradley

Bombardier
24852343
SAS
Special Air Service
Mentioned in Despatches
Killed in action or died of wounds
Bombardier Bradley Tinnion, 22 Special Air Service Regiment, died of wounds when hit by machine gun fire during an operation to rescue and evacuate six Army hostages out of the jungle in Sierra Leone (Operation Barras).

WAND-TETLEY, Peter Michael

Lieutenant (later Captain)
6463867
143484
No 7 Commando
Middle East Commando
Wiltshire Regiment
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Military Cross (MC)
19 October 1939 attested into the Honorable Artillery Company [1].
26 April 1940 to 168th Infantry O.C.T.U. [1].
17 August 1940 commissioned Second Lieutenant, Wiltshire Regiment [1][2].

WESTWATER, Alexander

Sergeant
876932
No 7 Commando
SAS
Royal Artillery
Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)
Died on war service
Sergeant Alexander Westwater DCM, formerly 7 Commando and SAS,  was killed in Italy after an explosion in what is described as a battle accident whilst serving with the Royal Artillery (AFHQ).

WHITE, Harold

Harold White 7 Commando and SAS
Corporal
154976
No 7 Commando
SAS
Royal Army Service Corps
Military Medal (MM)
Corporal Harold White was awarded the Military Medal for his gallantry whilst serving with 'L' Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade, having left the Commando after operations in Crete.
Recommendation
(by Lt. Col. A.D. Stirling, D.S.O.)

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