By Gavin Mortimer

In his new booklet, WWII historian Gavin Mortimer examines the pivotal occasions of 1 of the main well-known army devices of all time. beginning with the unit’s formation in July 1941, Mortimer recreates the heady days whilst a tender Scots’ defend officer referred to as David Stirling persuaded MEHQ to provide its backing to a small band of 60 males christened ‘L Detachment.’ From there, drawing on over a hundred hours of interviews with veterans (much of which hasn't ever ahead of been released) he describes the early raids within the wasteland opposed to Axis airfields that inflicted a perilous price at the enemy.

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T. [physical training]. Everybody went, British and French. ' 21 For the L Detachment veterans, the handful of men who had come through the early operations unscathed, February and early March offered them the chance to grab some well-earned leave in Cairo. By now the unit had their own beret and insignia. The cap badge to be worn on the snow white beret had been designed by Bob Tait, victor of a competition held by Stirling the previous October. * Stirling was less impressed with the motto, however, and plumped for one of his own - 'Who Dares Wins'.

There were 19 charges inside the haversacks, as well as two unexploded charges that were removed from the wing roots of two aircraft, and in the opinion of the engineers they had failed to explode because of'faulty manufacture in the part joining the detonating fuse of the charge to the slow match fuse of the igniter'. 12 L DETACHMENT TAKES WINGS With schoolboy enthusiasm the engineers repaired the fuses before finding a David Stirling in couple of old aircraft on which to place the charges. They laid them in exactly the his 'Blitz Buggy', same spot as the British raiders and stood back and watched, reporting the effects in their subsequent report: a stripped down Ford V 8 staff car.

One of the men who had volunteered for L Detachment in January was Arthur Thomson, a Londoner who According to George Jellicoe it was Paddy Mayne's idea in June 1942 that the SAS should use jeeps to attack Axis targets, a move that soon produced spectacular results. 7 Commando, part of Layforce. 'We soon came to realise that Paddy was a quiet man but a very hard man,' recalled Thomson, 'and that there were two things he loved above all else: a booze up and a punch up. ' 18 Stirling quickly remedied his error by reassigning Mayne to operational duties and appointing Sergeant-Major Pat Riley the new training officer, with Jeff Du Vivier L DETACHMENT TAKES WINGS his second-in-command.

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