“The SAS War Diary is a unique account of extraordinary men, warriors, who dared all to win all.
Unlike any other account, and because it is written by the men who were actually there, The diary takes us along the journey of exploration in battle trodden by the founding fathers of modern special forces.
That journey challenged the well-established rules of war and in doing so laid the
foundations for those of us who followed.
The sheer audacity and courage of these founding fathers, their personal leadership at point of danger and their willingness to challenge conventional thinking with truly unconventional ideas, carries the passage of time from the Western Desert to the back streets of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan.
The SAS War Diary conveys this audacity and courage brilliantly.
It is a remarkable piece of history, probably unmatched, as it lays out the very foundation of modern special forces.”
– Lt. Gen. Sir Graeme Lamb, former director UK Special Forces
In early 1946, only months after the end of World War II, a former SAS soldier tasked himself with one final mission. The SAS, created in 1941, had been disbanded; there were no plans to resurrect it.
The soldier’s self-appointed mission was simple: to find and collate whatever documentation he could before the SAS was forgotten and its story lost forever.
The soldier tracked down and copied the Top Secret order authorizing the first ever SAS operation … he sought out photographs of the original members of 1 SAS, including men lost on that first operation … he somehow acquired the after-action reports from the
handful of men who survived. Then, with more photographs, orders, operational reports, and a handful of newspaper articles from Britain and even America, he traced the story of the SAS through North Africa, Sicily, Italy, D-Day and France, then the drive through Europe for Berlin, and the final march past when SAS was stood down.
By mission end, the soldier had not only produced something unique – the first ever history of the SAS, collated by an SAS man himself – but in the event of the SAS being consigned to a footnote in history, and with many of the documents he had copied either destroyed or lost forever, he had saved the story of the SAS during World War II.
But the soldier did something else. He collated his work in a single massive war diary, measuring 17 x 12 x 4 inches and weighing just under 30 pounds, and bound it in leather “acquired” from the Germans.
Without knowing it, the soldier had created an icon. Then, however, he did something equally astonishing. Without telling anyone about the diary, he locked it away. For half a century, no one except the soldier knew that the diary existed.
Then, shortly, before his death, he visited the SAS Regimental Association, and gave them … The SAS War Diary. The association locked the diary in a place of safekeeping in its archives, and the secret of its existence continued.
Now, however, the diary is breaking cover. To mark the 70thanniversary of the founding of the Special Air Service, the SAS Regimental Association produced a special limited edition replica for its members. The limited edition of 500 sold out in three weeks. Now, to raise funds for its welfare activities, the association has been cleared to release a unique anniversary limited edition series.
The anniversary edition replicates the diary in physical appearance – all 17 x 12 x 4 inches of it, nearly 30 pounds in weight, fully bound in leather – but with one important difference. When the wartime SAS man finally collated his diary in 1946, it ran to nearly 600 pages. The soldier used the first 281 pages to record the story of 1 SAS. For some reason, perhaps aware there was another mission which might follow his, he kept in the remaining pages but left them blank.
The anniversary edition fills these empty pages with specially cleared material and documents from the association’s own highly confidential archives, to include the history of 2 SAS and an abridged history of the SBS. The diary is the only place most of these documents exist. Equally important, it is the personal and private history of the Regiment from the inside, by the SAS for the SAS, in their own words.
The diary contains an unparalleled collection of documents, reports, photographs and maps to tell, for the first time ever, the full story of the SAS during World War II. At the time most of these documents were Top Secret. They include:
- The actual order for the first ever SAS operation.
- Operational reports for all recorded behind-the-lines missions in: The Western Desert; Sicily and Italy; France for D-Day; Northwest Europe and Germany; Northern Italy post D-Day.
- More than 25 maps and 300 photographs, many of them taken on operations.
- David Stirling’s personal confidential memorandum on how he founded the SAS.
- Top Secret and highly personal correspondence between Stirling and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, when the future of the wartime SAS was in danger, to protect the SAS and guarantee that future.
- The order for the SAS to assassinate German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel just days after D-Day.
- The order assigning the SAS regimental status.
- The order standing the wartime SAS down.
The wartime SAS was disbanded in 1945, thus the diary is officially The SAS War Diary 1941-1945. But the diary actually goes beyond that. Even as the soldier was apparently completing his mission in 1946, and despite the fact that the Regiment no longer officially existed, a secret SAS team was still at war. Its mission: track down and bring to justice Nazi war criminals responsible for the torture and murder of SAS men captured behind the lines. Thus The SAS War Diary 1941-1945 actually ends in 1948, when the last wartime SAS man finally came home.
The SAS War Diary 1941-1945 is being published by Extraordinary Editions, in partnership with the SAS Regimental Association. The lion’s share of all profits is going to the association’s welfare fund.