The SAS secret hidden since World War II

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Operation One

Operation One - German occupation

Code named Operation Squatter, the SAS's first mission took place in November 1941. The British were fighting Rommel's Afrika Korps in North Africa. The SAS had to attack enemy airfields at Tmimi and Gazala in Libya and take out as many planes as possible.

The jump

SAS parachutes

The 65 SAS men were to parachute in. Being trained to use parachutes was an important part of selling the concept of the SAS and the men had to teach themselves. Early training consisted of jumping off the back of moving vehicles.

Mission abandoned

On the night of the operation weather conditions could not have been worse, with gale force winds and heavy rain. Several men were killed or injured making the jump. Equipment, explosives and supplies were also lost and the operation had to be abandoned.

Lives lost

Of the 65 SAS men who took part, just 22 made it back. With only a few cans of water and little else, they had to trek on foot through the desert for 36 hours to reach their rendezvous point. Some were captured and spent years in prisoner of war camps.

From the jaws of defeat

The SAS had apparently failed its first test. Founder David Stirling knew the unit would be finished if the generals found out, so he secretly ordered his remaining men to get more explosives and weapons. They went back and finished the job in a series of daring raids, destroying nearly 100 planes. In one they sabotaged aircraft with their hands after running out of bombs.

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