The Story of an SAS Hero
By Pete Winner and Michael Kennedy
This book is not a complete autobiography, in that it covers only Pete Winner’s life after joining the Royal Engineers. Pete was restless; the ordinary routine of Army life was boring to him. He decided to apply to the selection process for the Special Air Service. The SAS is Britain’s version of the Green Berets, the Navy Seals or the Russian Spetznaz. You join him at the Hereford Barracks during the initial stages of the selection process, or as the instructors call it, “The Rejection Process”.
After completing the necessary tests and the endurance run, Pete is one of only seventeen, out of 135 applicants, who are “badged”. Being “badged” is being accepted into the regiment. His first assignment is in the Aden Protectorate, in what is now part of Yemen. Operation Jaguar is his first taste of combat. The operation is to capture an airfield in the highlands from the Adoo communists. He goes on to fight at the Battle of Mirbat, where he loses a number of friends. Shortly thereafter Britain withdrew from Aden.
Interspersed with the combat tales is his being sent for psychological evaluation by the regimental Colonel because of his numerous troubles with “the system”. One of these is a training assignment in Hong Kong where he gets into a bar fight and is arrested. After finally being cleared to serve again with the regiment he is involved in the 1980 taking of the Iranian Embassy and the elimination of the terrorists who held the staff hostage. The narrative goes on to tell of the SAS role in the Falklands War. In 1987, Pete retired from the service.
After the battle of Mirbat became a “political football” in the halls of Parliament, he submits an article to the Daily Mirror, defending the actions taken there and the memory of his fallen comrades. For this, he is banned from the installation and “blackballed” from the agencies in the field of security, which he has entered. Being barred from seeing his old comrades was bad enough, but being unable to make a living was worse.
He then starts to take the less “mainstream” assignments and ends up in Moscow and places like that. The newfound outlet eventually leads him to a career training civil servants in how to track compensation frauds.
This book is well written and, to use a cliché, “riveting”. You will find yourself unable to put it down. I can highly recommend this book, not only to the history buff, but also to those people who like human-interest literature. Pete’s journey through life is not always going forward, nor always going backward, but filled with the ups and downs we all go through. It is a good commentary on dealing with the system and the pitfalls of bucking that system. Again, I recommend this book, not only for its insights into the Elite forces it represents, but for the man who places himself into these situations and eventually comes out somewhat triumphantly.
This book is available from Osprey Publications.
This book is available in three formats and they are;