Keystone of 22 S.A.S

Keystone of 22 S.A.S

Alan Hoe
ARRSE Rating
4.5 Mushroom Heads
In 1945, the Special Air Service regiments were disbanded, as it was felt, by the mandarins in Whitehall that there would be no more requirements for such a unit. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!
In 1947, a Territorial battalion of S.A.S was formed

John Woodhouse came from a good middle class family from Dorset, and was in the brewery business - Woodhouse and Hall. John enlisted in the army in 1941, having failed the Cambridge entrance exam, he joined the Dorset Regiment, where he was eventually singled out as a potential officer, After passing ( eventually) the selection board he went to an Officer Cadet Training Unit (OCTU) and commissioned into 5th Dorsets. He had an eventful war, including forming and leading 'Battle Patrols', which were a sort of regimental commando and these had mixed success. Woodhouse was captured by a German unit in Italy and sent to a p.o.w camp in Germany, where he met the writer Eric Newby, and a lifelong friendship ensued.

Fast forward to 1949, and Woodhouse now working with the Intelligence community, is posted to Hong Kong where he met, via Frank Festing, Brigadier Mike Calvert. Tis is where, to cut a long story short, he is eventually posted to the Malayan Scouts, which was an S.A.S unit in all but name. It was whilst serving with that unit the Jock Woodhouse became enamoured of the Special Air Service and went on to be part of the team that brought the regiment back from the dead, so to speak.

This is a wonderful book, full of amusing and very interesting anecdotes and recollections. It also boasts a tremendous military cast, from Mad Mike Calvert to Peter De La Billiere, Dare Newell, John Slim, Spencer Chapman, David Stirling and many, many more. It covers the formation of 22 SAS as we no know it, along with the sister regiments. Woodhouse effectively designed the well known selection course and took it himself on many an occasion.

Jock Woodhouse was, it seems, an extraordinary soldier. Tough and uncompromising, whilst being compassionate when needed. As hard on himself as on anyone else, and determined that his soldiers be the best they can be.

A fascinating book that should interest anyone with any thoughts on military history. Well written and containing some good photographs. I enjoyed it very much.

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