SAS: Rogue Heroes

8th November 2022

© IWM AYY 165. Clip of SAS parachute training. Kabrit, Egypt 1941

Who were the real SAS Rogue Heroes? View rarely-seen archive footage of the elite force.

SAS Rogue Heroes (BBC) is a major new drama about the adrenaline-fuelled origins of the Special Forces unit, forged among the mayhem of the Second World War. Based on historian Ben Macintyre's book, the series follows the adventures of 'Phantom Major' David Stirling and his intrepid band of rebel officers as they change warfare by attacking the enemy behind their own battle lines in a string of daring escapades.

An early episode shows the men undergoing parachute training in the North African desert. 

Lieutenant “Jock” Lewes was the founding principal training officer at the camp in Kabrit and some of his methods were extremely dangerous. Without an aircraft, Lewes improvised by ordering soldiers to jump from moving trucks. 

The clip above, from the War Office Film Unit, shows this unorthodox training in action for real. Other highlights in the IWM film collection include footage of Lewes with SAS parachutists and heavily armed jeeps with Vickers machine guns 

SAS in jeep

© IWM E 21338. Colonel David Stirling, founder of the Special Air Service, with a SAS jeep patrol in North Africa, 18 January 1943.

The ethos of the SAS was encapsulated in its motto ‘Who Dares Wins’, chosen by its founder Colonel David Stirling. The SAS would operate deep behind enemy lines, destroying aircraft and supply links before safely getting away – before their opponents had time to respond.

A volatile personality, Lieutenant-Colonel 'Paddy' Mayne is a legendary figure in the history of the Special Forces. Reputed to have destroyed more German planes during the Second World War than the RAF’s top ace, his fearlessness earned him a reputation as a heroic warrior. Mayne took command of the unit in 1942 following the capture of Stirling. 

© IWM MH 24415. Portrait of Lt Col Robert Blair 'Paddy' Mayne in the desert near Kabrit, 1942.

Find Out More

Visit IWM Collections for more images of the SAS in North Africa. 

Contact the licensing team for further information and help with archive research. 

All episodes of SAS Rogue Heroes are available to stream on BBC iPlayer.