Since we first began our General Military series, we have published some incredible Special Forces memoirs, so we thought we’d end this year by highlighting some that you may have missed.
Pilgrim Days by Alastair MacKenzie
We were thrown into the air by the explosions. Shrapnel, stones, debris flew everywhere. It was the loudest noise I had ever heard. A salvo of three shells had smashed into the rocks just in front of us. “Check firing! Check firing!” I screamed into the radio. I knew another salvo was about to arrive and we would not survive that.
Alastair MacKenzie lived the soldier’s life to the full as he journeyed ‘the Golden Road to Samarkand’. This extraordinary new work vividly documents, in a detail that stuns, the experience of infantry combat in Vietnam, life with the Paras, the tempo of selection for UK Special Forces, covert SAS operations in South Armagh and SAS Counter Terrorist training on the UK mainland, vehicle-mounted Pathfinder Brigade insertions into Angola and maritime counter-terrorism work in Oman.
Want to read more? Check out an exclusive extract from the book here.
SSF parachute training with equipment into Oman.
Soldier ‘I’ by Pete Winner and Michael Paul Kennedy
Eighteen years in the SAS saw Pete Winner, codenamed Soldier ‘I’, survive the savage battle of Mirbat, parachute into the icy depths of the South Atlantic at the height of the Falklands War, and storm the Iranian Embassy during the most famous hostage crisis in the modern world. For the first time Pete also details his close-protection work around the world, from the lawless streets of Moscow to escorting aid convoys into war-torn Bosnia. This is his story, written with a breathtaking take-no-prisoners attitude that brings each death-defying episode vividly to life.
Without warning the world erupted. A stream of green tracer, made more luminous in the paling light, raced out and over our position. It was like watching cat’s-eyes on a motorway at night – floating gently in the distance, then cracking past at crazy speed close by. The Adoo had arrived. I grabbed my rifle and hugged the sangar wall, the adrenaline coursing through my body. The whole of the western perimeter exploded with the stuttered popping of incoming small-arms fire.
The Regiment by Rusty Firmin
It took about 16 minutes to get everyone in position and ready to initiate. As soon as we reached our assault position, I reported in that Bravo One and the rest of the Bravo callsigns with me were in position and ready to go, and listening in on the net I could hear the other team leaders doing the same. Suddenly, Major G came up again: “Go! Go! Go!” This was followed immediately by a huge explosion as the distraction charge was set off by Frank Collins up on the roof and the whole area seemed to rock as the blast wave rushed past
The SAS has won renown in some of the most dramatic and dangerous military special operations. In The Regiment, one of its longest-serving veterans offers a glimpse into the shadowy world of the SAS, featuring 15 years’ worth of incredible combat experiences, including the assault on the Iranian Embassy in London in May 1980.
Me with a Pucara at Port Stanley Airfield, June 1982.
Which of these have you read? Do you have a favourite special forces biography? We’d love to hear your picks in the comments!