It happened to me: Sir Ranulph Fiennes The celebrated explorer recalls the military career that fuelled his thirst for adventure, but left him longing for more "As I grew up, there was only one thing I wanted to do follow in my late fathers footsteps by commanding the Royal Scots Greys. When I got to school I knew I needed two A-levels to get to Sandhurst, but just couldnt get them. This was a real blow, but there wasnt anything I could do about it. I had to go to Mons Officer Cadet School which was for people who wanted to be officers but couldnt make Sandhurst. In February 1963, I finally made my way to Germany to join the Royal Scots Greys. I loved the Regiment, but I hated tank training, so in 1965, when I spotted a three-line ad for a secondment in the 22nd Special Air Service, I went for it. Back then it was a little-known but elite regiment. There were 124 would-be troopers and 12 other officers hoping to make it through the first three weeks of tough selection courses. Youd done very well if you made it to Long Drag a 45-mile cross-country hike carrying a 50-pound pack, 12-pound belt and 18-pound rifle without a sling. Most people out of 100 will have been out by then. When it came around, there were just four officers left, and I was with one other hopeful officer-type, Captain Fleming. Youre not really meant to be with anyone else, but we were walking quite close to each other. About 10 miles into it with bad weather we realised we might not make it in time. We decided that we were very good SAS material and that it was stupid to be thrown out just because we couldnt do one hike quick enough. So we decided to speed up by taking a taxi. We found a Welsh farmer with a Ford Anglia and for five quid he agreed to spend the next 14 hours taking us to remote areas where we would sit with binoculars waiting for the person we knew was just ahead of us to reach the checkpoint it would have looked ridiculous if we turned up ahead of him. In the end, we walked far further than if we had just stuck to the straight line on the map. Now, I passed but Captain Fleming didnt. The SAS never tell you why they chuck people. The training that followed was very testing, but I was one of the few that made it through. I felt great when I was given my SAS beret and my badges, but not for long. In the words of my CO pride came before a bloody great fall. That summer, I was due to fly out to Borneo for training, but the week before, a schoolfriend of mine told me about his plans to wreck a big concrete sandbag dam at Castle Combe it was a very pretty village, and 21st Century Fox wanted to muck it up to film Dr Doolittle . So my friend decided that the night before Rex Harrison turned up to film, he would destroy the dam as a protest on behalf of the villagers. Id been doing an explosives course, and had become very good at blowing things up with minimum explosives. At the end of each day I decided not to hand back what I felt I had sort of earned. I thought it might come in useful. So, for two months my car was growing ever more full of explosives. I was asked to create a diversion, which I did, using incendiaries. However, the police had been tipped off and, despite using my recently-acquired knowledge of escaping police canines by plunging up to my nose in a stream, they caught up with me in the car park. I was intensely relieved to be handed a £500 fine rather than a jail sentence, but I was immediately expelled from the SAS. I realised that I would no longer achieve my dearest wish, for the Royal Scots Greys might not want a convicted arsonist for their commanding officer."