London, Special Air Service Regimental Association

SAS War Diary. 1941-1945 Facsimile Edition

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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.

The story of the Diary

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 for ever.

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.

Contents

Operational reports including:

      - L Detachment SAS through the Western Desert

      - David Stirling’s capture

      - SRS operations in Sicily and Italy

      - 1 SAS in France for D Day, NW Europe and Germany

      - 2 SAS operations in Sicily, Italy, France for D Day

      - Northern Italy post-D Day.

Over 25 maps and 300 photographs, many of them taken on operations and behind-the-lines.

David Stirling’s personal confidential memorandum on how he created the SAS.

Secret correspondence discussing the future of Special Forces in the Middle East.

Top Secret correspondence between Stirling and Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the future and importance of the SAS.

The order assigning SAS regimental status.

We have 7 facsimiles of the manuscript "SAS War Diary. 1941-1945":

#1 SAS War Diary. 1941-1945 - The Exemplary Edition

London: Extraordinary Editions, 2011

  • Commentary (English)
  • Limited Edition: 22 copies
  • This facsimile is complete (full-size color reproduction of the whole original document).

Each exemplary copy of the Diary is individually crafted, with over 300 photographs, newspaper and magazine articles stuck in by hand to create the most accurate possible replica of the original scrapbook.

The completed book is then gilded along all three edges before being bound in a bespoke full leather casing embossed with the badge and wings of the Special Air Service.

The Diary comes in a stunning presentation box lined in Cambridge blue silk and covered in an Oxford blue leather [ the Regiment's colours ]. Each box is finished with sterling silver corners and completed with a 6 inch solid silver flaming dagger embedded in the top.

Each completed Exemplary Edition is delivered in a silk lined solid wooden ammunition box to protect it during transit. They take over three months to complete.

It is also possible to personalise each copy with bespoke limitation, dedication, limitation pages and calligraphy.

There are only 22 copies in order to commemorating the unique achievements of 22.SAS.

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#2 SAS War Diary. 1941-1945 - The Navigator's Edition

London: Extraordinary Editions, 2011

  • Commentary (English)
  • Limited Edition: 550 copies
  • This facsimile is complete (full-size color reproduction of the whole original document).

Signed by Major W.M. Sadler MC, MM and bound over extra thick boards and with a leather closing flap replicating the one on the original Diary. 

In November 1941, in the Western Desert war of North Africa, Mike Sadler was a navigator with the Long Range Desert Group. Two weeks after the first and disastrous SAS operation, Sadler navigated Paddy Mayne to the Tamet airfield, deep behind enemy lines, where Mayne and his group destroyed 24 enemy aircraft. It was the first successful SAS operation.

In the following months, during the period when the LRDG took the SAS to their targets, Sadler navigated one of the patrols involved. When David Stirling got his own jeeps, he poached Sadler from the LRDG. Sadler navigated the SAS on the first nighttime mass jeep raid on the enemy airfield at Sidi Haneish, near Fuka. 

In January 1943 Sadler was with Stirling when he attempted to outflank the Germans retreating from El Alamein and connect with the British 1st Army in Tunisia. Sadly, it went wrong, and Stirling and the rest were captured. Sadler and two others got away and endured a hundred-mile desert walk to make the connection.

After D-Day, Sadler parachuted into the Morvan Mountains in Occupied France, to operate in the Forest of Orleans. He celebrated the liberation of Paris with Paddy Mayne, in Paris.

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#3 SAS War Diary. 1941-1945 - The Originals Edition

London: Extraordinary Editions, 2011

  • Commentary (English)
  • Limited Edition: 100 copies
  • This facsimile is complete (full-size color reproduction of the whole original document).

Bound over extra thick boards and with a leather flap replicating the one on the original Diary, the Originals Edition comes in a sandblasted presentation "ammunition box" which converts to a lectern for reading and display purposes and is signed by Jimmy Storie.

Jimmy Storie was one of “The Originals”, the handful of men with David Stirling at the birth of the SAS, who survived the first disastrous SAS operation in late 1941.

Of the 65 men who parachuted into the desert night on SAS operation number one only 22 made it back to base. Jimmy Storie was one of them.

It should have been the end of the SAS. In fact, it was the beginning. Stirling hid his men, ordered them to somehow acquire more weapons and explosives, then, without telling anyone, the 22 went back into the desert and finished the job.

He went on to serve throughout the desert campaign, Sicily, Italy, behind the lines in France for D-Day, and in the push through Germany.

When Jimmy signed the Diary he was the last surviving Original.

Sadly Jimmy passed away on January 8th 2012, truly the end of an era.

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#4 SAS War Diary. 1941-1945 - The Veteran's Edition

London: Extraordinary Editions, 2011

  • Commentary (English)
  • Limited Edition: 550 copies
  • This facsimile is complete (full-size color reproduction of the whole original document).

Signed by Major A.J. Schofield MBE, and bound over extra thick boards and with a leather closing flap replicating the one on the original Diary.

Joe Schofield has the distinction of wearing the SAS Badge and Wings for a continuous 45 years of army service – the longest ever.

A boy soldier in 1938, Schofield went to the Middle East in 1940 with No 8 (Guards) Commando and was in Tobruk when David Stirling came recruiting for “L” Detachment. With 1 S.A.S he served in the Middle East, Sicily and Italy, parachuted into France for D Day, and fought through N.W. Europe and into Germany.

Near Oldenburgh, in April 1945, a badly wounded Schofield was rescued by Lt. Col. Paddy Mayne. For this, Mayne was nominated for the Victoria Cross but received instead a third bar to his DSO.

Schofield spent several months in hospital. In 1946, still on crutches, he was posted to the Airborne Forces Depot, where he spent months on light duties. The wartime SAS had been disbanded, but Schofield continued to wear the SAS Badge and Wings. In 1947, he transferred to the newly formed  21 SAS TA as a Permanent Staff Instructor. In the succeeding years Joe Schofield served with 21, 22 and 23 SAS.

Sadly Major Schofield passed away on February 8th 2012. He will be sadly missed.

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#5 SAS War Diary. 1941-1945 - The Victoria Cross Edition

London: Extraordinary Editions, 2011

  • Commentary (English)
  • Limited Edition: 150 copies
  • This facsimile is complete (full-size color reproduction of the whole original document).

Bound over extra thick boards and with a leather flap replicating the one on the original Diary, the Victoria Cross Edition comes in a sandblasted presentation "ammunition box" which converts to a lectern for reading and display purposes and each copy is signed by all three post war SAS VC holders.

There was only one wartime VC awarded to the an SAS soldier. that man was Anders Lasson and he died during the engagement for which he was awarded this highest of all military honours.

In an extraordinary twist of fate, on the very same day, Paddy Mayne was put forward for the VC for a breathtaking act of bravery in rescuing his fallen comrades against all the odds. It remains a source of controversy to this day that he was “only “ awarded a 3rd bar to his DSO. The documents relating to both these actions can be found in the Diary.

It is perhaps the nature of Special Forces operations, that has meant so few medals are awarded them and why there have only been 3 SAS VC’s since the war. We are extremely privileged that they have signed these copies of the Diary and wish to take this opportunity to thank them.

Corporal Willie Apiata VC

Corporal Mark Donaldson VC

Corporal Benjamin Roberts VC, MG

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#6 SAS War Diary. 1941-1945 - The Anniversary Edition

London: Extraordinary Editions, 2011

  • Commentary (English)
  • Limited Edition: 3450 copies
  • This facsimile is complete (full-size color reproduction of the whole original document).

The individual copies are then numbered and the limitation page is embossed with the seal of the Regimental Association, as are the signature pages on the signed copies.

The Diary is produced using traditional materials in the traditional manner and is designed to last for generations.

Binding

Each copy is bound by hand in full leather over wood composite boards in the style of the original, with three brass posts and finished with a new blocking design featuring the Regimental badge and wings.

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#7 SAS War Diary. 1941-1945 - The Services Edition

London: Extraordinary Editions, 2011

  • Commentary (English)
  • Limited Edition: 1000 copies
  • This facsimile is complete (full-size color reproduction of the whole original document).

At the behest of the SAS Regimental Association 1000 copies of the SAS War Diary have been reserved for members of the Armed Forces and the wider Services family, military institutions and libraries, so that military personnel and historians worldwide can have access to the Regiment's wartime history.

The Services Edition differs from the Anniversary Edition in that it contains an additional 24-page chapter detailing the immediate post war activity of the Regiment when, despite having been disbanded, the SAS ran a War Crimes Investigation Team.

In its way, and in the way of the Special Air Service, the SAS War Crimes Investigation Team is like the SAS War Diary itself.  For many years after the end of the Second World War it remained a secret – even within the SAS itself.

In August 1944, 2 SAS under Brian Franks dropped into the Vosges Mountains of Eastern France in Operation Loyton. Their mission was to hold the mountain passes for the Allies to sweep through; it was scheduled to last days but the advancing American Third Army stalled.

Loyton dragged on for weeks; 2 SAS ran out of food, weapons and ammunition. When 2 SAS pulled back through the lines, 31 men were missing.

In mid-1945, Franks ordered his intelligence unit, under Major E.A. “Bill” Barkworth, to discover the fate of the missing men and to bring those responsible to justice.  In October 1945, when the SAS was disbanded, Franks refused to renege on his promise to his missing men and, with the help of a remarkable individual, Prince Yurka Galitzine, defied the government and kept the unit going.

One centre of investigations was the village of Moussey, at the heart of Operation Loyton. Today, in a lonely and isolated spot in a col above the valley, stands a memorial to the SAS men murdered there, erected by the people of Moussey - even though the village suffered horrifically at the hands of the Nazis because of the activities of the SAS there. The SAS still return to this place.

The Barkworth unit brought many of the guilty to the Nuremburg courts; it also helped the legendary Vera Atkins track down Nazis responsible for the torture and murder of SOE agents, most especially women agents.

The SAS War Crimes Investigation Team, and the last SAS soldier, finally came home in 1948 – three years after the SAS had been disbanded.

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