With unprecedented access to the SAS secret files, unseen footage and exclusive interviews with its founding members, SAS: Rogue Warriors, episode 2 of which airs on Monday 13 Feb at 9.00pm on BBC Two, tells the remarkable story behind an extraordinary fighting force.
David Stirling created the SAS to attack the enemy from deep behind their lines, but as Ben Macintyre discovers in this second episode, continued success could only be achieved with ever more dangerous and ambitious missions.
With the growing risk of high casualties, Stirling realised they would need a medical officer on hand. In June 1942 a nervous young army doctor, Malcolm Pleydell, reported for duty with Stirling’s highly secret unit in the North African desert. Pleydell had no idea what he was letting himself in for. He was a keen student of human nature and would emerge the most astute observer and chronicler of the SAS. Ben discovers Pleydell’s notes in the archive. Scribbled between missions, the notes survive as a powerful eyewitness account of the desert war and the SAS men who fought in it.
Following the tragic death of one of his original pioneering members, Stirling appoints a new second-in-command: Captain Paddy Mayne. Ben uncovers the truth that Mayne was an officer as unpredictable and dangerous as the new phase of war that was about to begin.
Unknown to Stirling, the Germans were now training special units to track, intercept and kill the guileful SAS. The hunters would soon become the hunted. With exclusive access to filmed interviews with the original members, Ben discovers how many of the SAS men were captured by the Germans – and the extraordinary story of two members who outran the Germans. In interview, they reveal how they used their training to survive for three days in the desert without food or fresh water.
But Stirling is captured, and as the SAS prepare to fight Hitler in Europe they face a stark question: how they will cope without the inspirational leadership of the man who created them?
SAS: Rogue Warriors Episode 2 (of 3) airs on Monday 13 February 2017 from 9.00pm-10.00pm on BBC Two