One of the bravest missions proposed by a crack SAS unit during World War II was intended to occur at a French chateau in 1944.
65 elite British soldiers were involved in a plot that was proposed to kill or capture Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, one of the Nazis’ most acclaimed commanders.
The raid was however abandoned and instead of being the ‘immense propaganda coup’ the British soldiers had been told it was going to be, the mission was a disastrous embarrassment.
It resulted in just 22 out of the 65 soldiers returning home.
The details of the plot, along with numerous other remarkable exploits of SAS units during WW2, have been published in a 600-page scrapbook, much of which was prepared by one of the involved soldiers.
The book weighs a staggering 25lbs, has been bound in leather and liberated from its previous cover of embossed swastikas.
Rare and Undisclosed Photographs
The limited edition book contains masses of extremely rare and previously undisclosed photographs, first-hand reports and accounts made by SAS soldiers and top secret orders.
Since it was first compiled in 1946, the secret book has been kept under lock and key by an anonymous soldier in a German ledger.
While the SAS was disbanded in 1945, the unnamed soldier was determined that the regiment’s history would not be lost, so he put every piece of information, document and photograph related to the heroic SAS unit he could find into the book.
Shortly before his death in 1990, the anonymous soldier handed the extremely rare scrapbook to the SAS Regimental Association.
70th Anniversary of Regiment
The unusual tome has been kept secret until this year when it has been authorised to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Who Dares Wins regiment, a Special Air Service formed by Scottish WW2 hero, Sir David Stirling.
Talking about the heroic actions displayed in the scrapbook, Colonel John Crossland, executive vice-president of the SAS Regimental Association said:
“The diary is a unique document and going through it is a very humbling experience. It shows how extraordinary these men were. Their deeds were astonishing but they are so matter of fact in their reports.”
Many of the diary entries found in the book were written by Sir David Stirling, who documents the many harrowing ‘Who Dares Wins’ missions throughout the Second World War.
Despite the fact that a percentage of the profit from the book goes toward the UK Special Forces troops to help the dozens of injured soldiers in Afghanistan as well as bereaved families, the pricing of the book has roused dissatisfaction.
Only 1000 copies of the unique diary have been made and each copy will cost £975 – approximately $1300.
Rare Book Flies Off the Shelves
Extraordinary Editions, the company that has printed the rare book said that 500 copies were offered at a reduced rate to the Regimental Association, but were bought extremely quickly.
One of the elite regiment’s original members who missed out on obtaining one of the reduced-priced copies, is 92-year-old Peter Pirie.
Mr Pirie, who lives in Glasgow, Scotland and was wounded twice during his time at the SAS regiment, believes that the £975 price tag for the book is far too high.
“The book is far too expensive. I was told that I may get a discount and get it for £300, then they said I would have to pay the full £975,” said the WWII hero.
It does seem ironic that much of the content in the highly sought-after book is related to and has been written by those involved in the heroic exploits that occurred during World War II, and it is essentially the “authors” of the book who want to obtain a copy most urgently, but will have to fork out almost £1000 to do so.
As Peter Pirie says:
“They basically want to take the story of my unit, repackage it and then sell it back to me.”
Image Credit: WikipediaOriginally published on TopSecretWriters.com