Special Air Service


Second World War

The Special Air Service was formed in 1941 as a commando force to raid enemy facilities and installations. It evolved over the course of the war into an established force which took part in different theatres of operation.

As its role was to strike swiftly and at points unexpected, it was highly mobile, using Jeeps equipped with Vickers GO No. 1 Mk. 1 guns mounted in pairs on the front and rear. This created a heavily armed, yet light and fast, fighting platform. They also used the Mk. I Vickers in a support fire role.

1st SAS Regiment

As of 6th June 1944, this unit was commanded by Lt. Col. Paddy Mayne.

2nd SAS Regiment

As of 6th June 1944, this unit was commanded by Lt. Col. Brian Franks.

As it served in Northern Italy, where it could be quite hilly and mountainous, the Vickers was moved by man-carry in ‘unorthodox’ ways, particularly with the ammunition belts strapped around the body of the men.

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2nd SAS Regiment – Italy, 1945

3rd SAS Regiment

As of 6th June 1944, this unit was commanded by Commandant Conan. It was formed from the 3e Regiment Chasseurs de Parachutists of France.

4th SAS Regiment

As of 6th June 1944, this unit was commanded by Commandant Bourgoin. It was formed from the 2e Regiment Chasseurs de Parachutists of France.

5th SAS Regiment

As of 6th June 1944, this unit was commanded by Captain Blondeel. It was formed from Belgian Troops.


Post-Second World War

The SAS was disbanded after the Second World War, yet was re-established shortly after and continued to serve around the world, particularly in a counter-insurgency role.  They continued to use the GO No 1 Mk I even when they moved from jeeps to Land Rovers even as late as 1960, up until their replacement by the General Purpose Machine Gun.


Sources