Eye of the Storm

Eye of the Storm

Author
Peter Ratcliffe DCM
ARRSE Rating
3 Mushroom Heads
Peter Ratcliffe served in the SAS for twenty-five years. Blooded in Oman in the 1970s, he also saw action in Northern Ireland, in the Falklands War, and in the Gulf campaign. From his early days in the Paras to his time as Regimental Sergeant Major in the Gulf, he has lived and fought by the motto 'Who Dares Wins'. Eye of the Storm is his insider's account of that exceptional career. Fast paced, earthy, dramatic, funny, occasionally disturbing, it is laced with firsthand descriptions of ferocious and bloody fighting, sudden death and incredible heroism, and peopled with a cast of extraordinary individuals. Beyond that, however, it corrects many of the distortions and exaggerations of other books, and explodes several long-standing myths about the Regiment. Here - at last - is the authentic voice of the SAS.

Peter Ratcliffe has produced another book on life with the SAS, he served with honour and distinction fighting in campaigns from the secret war in Oman to Gulf War One. Starting off in Belfast as a Paratrooper he gives us a personal account of how and why he chose to go for SAS selection and beyond. His description of the Battle of Mirbat is second to none you could almost hear the ADOO rounds smashing into the sandbags as you read this chapter. He has seen more action in one day than I have in a liftime so I cannot review his soldering as he proved himself to be the best of the best on many occasions.

Without a doubt he thoroughly examines the personality traits which makes good and bad troopers because like every unit the SAS also has its canteen warriors, it makes the Regiment even better for not going down the super trooper route. I even like the story about the Indian mortar rounds which I wrote about on a forum and was blasted for it as every Arrse "expert" told me that I was talking crap. I have been vindicated.

My job however is to review his Authoring skills as showcased in this book. I wonder what went through your minds when I wrote that whinge about the Indian Mortar story? I deliberately wrote that to try to explain how I felt about this book which I give full marks for in the first 200 odd pages although overall it doesn't really add much to the the SAS Regiment story all that much and how could it if its been vetted?

Most squaddies and veterans will have read numerous books on the SAS from its formation in WW2, some of the richer members might even have purchased the official biography, presented in a wooden case for about a grand! So I was expecting a lot more of this latest publication but found it lacking, this book not the man nor the Regiment, for me I found it left me a bit angry and sad and here's why.

Every non fiction book has a raision d'etre and or a message which the author wants to give his readers, whether its a moral lesson or a point of view on a particular subject. I felt that this story was a way for the Author to get back at some criticisms levelled against him by four other biographies written by men who served with him. There are 454 pages in this tale and some 218 of them are spent refuting assertions written by the like of Andy Mcnab, Chris Ryan plus two others. The blurb states that this is a warts and all book but it saddened me to think that Peter was washing the Regiment's dirty laundry in public. I lost a lot of sympathy with him over the constant bleating "they said this, they said that but didn't mention how good I was as RSM". It all revolves around Bravo Two Zero and had the troopers followed his advice all would have turned out better. He tells us how he was inserted into a failing team, in action, relieved the officer in command crushed a revolt from the teams and went on to turn their performance around making them one of the most successful special forces units in this war. Had he stuck to the main story and cut out the bickering he would have been perceived a better man and this a first class book. I am sure that those who know and matter would have made it clear to him how good a soldier he was and he could have even asked a couple of them to provide references in the introduction. This is NOT the SAS at their finest by any measure which is a sad thing to have to say. There is a particular member of the team who tried to undermine Peter's authority to the extent of changing an agreed RV to another location without telling Peter and ordering the driver not to inform Peter untill they had reached the spot! That must have been a court martial offence surely?

One great piece of writing, other than the battle of Mirbat, was his telling of his idea to hold a Sergeants Mess meeting way inside enemy territory in the middle of clandestine operations. That to me showed his style and panache which I hope does go down in the history books. Owing to the bitching I have only given this three mushroom heads not the Regiment's finest book of their finest hour.

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