SAS WAR DIARY
This year, amongst the other charities we normally support, we have been collecting money to purchase a reproduction of the book entitled “the SAS War Diary”. It is our intention to present the book to the people of Newtownards prior to Remembrance Day 2012. To enable them to have access to it, the book will possibly be kept in the Somme Heritage Centre or Newtownards Public Library. The book is a very special book and has obvious connections with the town.
“Created in 1946 and kept secret ever since, The Diary is one of the most astonishing manuscripts to come out of the Second World War.
It is the personal and private history of the Regiment from the inside, by the SAS for the SAS, in their own words.
It contains an unparalleled collection of documents, reports, photographs and maps and tells for the first time the full story of the SAS during World War 2.
This is a unique opportunity to acquire a full scale reproduction of this extraordinary record of SAS history, published in a limited edition to mark the 70th anniversary of the Special Air Service and to raise funds for the SAS Regimental Association.
The story of The Diary is remarkable.
In early 1946, a former SAS soldier tasked himself with one final mission. The SAS had been disbanded and there were no plans to resurrect it. The soldier’s self-appointed mission was simple: to find and preserve whatever documentation he could before the SAS was forgotten and its story lost forever.
The soldier tracked down the Top Secret order authorising 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 few who survived.
Then with more photographs, operational orders and reports (all Top Secret), and a handful of newspaper articles from Britain and even America, he traced the story of the SAS through North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France, on to the drive through Europe for Berlin, until the final march past when the SAS was stood down.
By mission end, the soldier had produced something unique – the first ever history of the SAS, collated by an SAS man. Not only that, 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 2.
But the soldier did something else. He collated his work in a single massive war diary, measuring 17” x 12” x 4” and weighing over 25 lbs, and bound it in leather “liberated” from Nazi Germany. Without knowing it, the soldier had created an icon. Shortly before his death, he visited the SAS Regimental Association, and gave them … The SAS War Diary.
The Association locked The Diary away in its archives … and its existence remained a secret …. Until now.
To mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Special Air Service, and in collaboration with the SAS Regimental Association, Extraordinary Editions have received unique clearance to produce a once-in-a-lifetime limited edition series of The Diary. The lion’s share of the profit is going to the SAS Regimental Association’s welfare fund. “
It is strongly rumored that the soldier in question was actually Lt. Col. Robert Blair Mayne of 1 SAS.
The cost of a copy of the book is £1000.
The school will be using various methods to raise as much of the money as possible (amongst them we will be selling a wristband highlighting our aim, and have raised half of the money so far).
As I have mentioned, we intend to purchase a copy and display it at the Somme Heritage Centre or the Public Library. It is also our intention to somehow record and display the names of those people and organisations kind enough to support us in this venture. Should we be fortunate enough to exceed our goal, a donation will be made to the Royal British Legion and the charity “Combat Stress”.
The obvious connection that the town has to the SAS Diary, through Colonel Paddy, has been in some part the reasoning behind our school trying to purchase a copy. As you will be aware, Colonel Paddy was a Regent House boy, however we have found that we have, amongst our current pupils, great-grandchildren of one of Paddy’s men, Billy Hull. It is my intention to involve Mr Hull’s great-grandchildren amongst the pupils helping out with the fund-raising activities.
The purchase of the Diary coincides with the linking of our school to the Movilla Detachment of the Army Cadets. The Detachment is now operating out of the school, and will be meeting at Movilla High School every Wednesday night from 7 pm to 9.30 pm. All young people in year 10 or above at any school are welcome to join us. The school recognizes the great work the Cadets do with young people, giving them self-confidence, self-reliance, self-discipline, responsibility and amazing experiences, and we are delighted that the Detachment has moved in.
MOVILLA HIGH SCHOOL DETACHMENT OF THE ARMY CADETS
The purchase of the Diary coincides with the linking of our school to the Movilla Detachment of the Army Cadets.
The Detachment is now operating out of the school, and will be meeting at Movilla High School every Wednesday night from 7 pm to 9.30 pm. Ideally all young people aged from yr 10 (and in any school) and above are welcome to join us.
The school recognizes the great work the Cadets do with young people, giving them self-confidence, self-reliance, self-discipline, responsibility and amazing experiences, and we are delighted that the Detachment has moved in.