First published in the Telegraph Magazine on Saturday, 14 November 2020.
Fearless, wild and brilliant – Paddy Mayne, founding father of the SAS, is reputed to have destroyed more German planes during the Second World War than the RAF’s top ace.
So why was his bravery never fully recognised in his lifetime?
Ahead of a new BBC drama, military historian Lord Ashcroft examines the extraordinary life – and premature death – of the most controversial Special Forces hero in history.
On a granite plinth in Conway Square in the centre of Newtownards, Co Down, there is a near life-size bronze statue in memory of the town’s most famous son. The inscription beneath it reads: ‘Lt Col Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne 1915-1955.’
With a modesty that was typical of the man himself, there is no mention that he was a founding father of the SAS, no mention of his astonishing four Distinguished Service Order (DSO) awards from the Second World War, and no mention that Paddy Mayne was arguably the UK’s greatest-ever front-line soldier. (more…)