Title: SAS – The Illustrated History

Author: Davies, Barry BEM

Condition: Very Good

Edition: 1st Edition

Publication Date: 1996

ISBN: 1852276967

Cover: Hard Cover with Dust Jacket (in protective plastic cover) – 224 pages

Comments: This book focuses on Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS) during the modern era of the Falklands, the Gulf War and the fight against terrorism. This unique collection of b/w and color photos was taken by members of the regiment and are published here for the first time.

Overseas service in Egypt, Palestine, Hong Kong and Shanghai; Scandinavia 1940, Italy, NW Europe. Post war Malaya. Roll of officers who served between 1934 and 1955. Roll of Honour, casualty statistics, Honours and Awards. List of COs, Adjutants, QMs and RSMs.This is a monumental regimental history with the bulk of it, nearly 440 pages, devoted to WWII and the Occupation.

As in 1914 the regiment went to war in 1939 with two battalions which at one stage had increased to four of which only the 4th did not see active service as a battalion; two of its companies, however, did fight in Italy with 1st and 2nd Battalions, and in NW Europe with Irish and Welsh Guards battalions. The 3rd Battalion converted to armour and fought in NW Europe as a Guards tank battalion. A 5th Battalion had a brief existence as a Ski battalion, recruited from experienced volunteers, civilian and military, called for in telegrams despatched by the War Office all over the world. It was nicknamed “The Snowballers.”

The life of this most odd unit spanned three months – January to March 1940 when it was disbanded. It had been intended for assisting the Finns but before it could be put to any use Finland had concluded an armistice with the USSR. The battalion did, however, get as far as Chamonix in the French Alps for training with a battalion of Chasseurs Alpins. This episode is most amusingly described. The history is arranged seven parts with a number of very informative appendices.

 Part I covers the period between the wars, which includes service in Egypt, Palestine, Hong Kong and Shanghai, and then follow: Scandinavia 1940 (1st Bn); At Home ‘39-’45 (1st Bn, Trg Bn, RHQ and Holding Bn); N Africa ‘39-’43 (1st and 2nd Bns); Italy ‘43-’47 (1st and 2nd Bns); NW Europe ‘44-’46 (2nd and 3rd Bns); and finally Post War ‘45-’55 which includes Malaya (2nd Bn). In each section the actions of each battalion involved are described. As the headings to the various parts indicate the regiment fought in all theatres of war in WWII apart from the Far East.

The many maps and photographs are of a high standard. The appendices are a mine of information: Roll of Honour and Casualty Statistics; Honours and Awards (Decorations for gallantry are listed by battalions by theatres of war); list of Colonels, COs, Adjutants, QMs and RSMs; Orders of Battle by battalions at various dates (officers and warrant officers); Nominal Roll of Officers who served in the regiment between 1934 and 1955, showing period of service, highest rank reached in the regiment and war service; and Regimental Dress which, for WWII, shows the formations in which the battalions served and the formation sign. Finally there is a comprehensive index. This is a splendid history and a great tribute to the regiment.