The SAS and a Submariner


totemcockleshellThe SAS for those who do not know, is a very elite British military service. Comparable to the US Navy Seals, and other elite special forces and commando units. Back in 1960 we took an SAS team  aboard the submarine Taciturn for a special infiltration exercise off the coast of Scotland. I can’t remember the actual reason why but the team was one man short. Yes, you have probably guessed it, I volunteered, or was I volunteered? Whatever the reason, I became part of this team. The exercise was to land the three kayaks along the coast from the submarine from about a mile out. Once ashore the teams then had to travel about fifty miles to another pick up point and rejoin the boat which would surface approx one mile off shore. On shore the local police and members of the Territorial Army were alerted to be on the lookout for intruders. I paddled ashore with the team leader, on the beach in utter darkness we disassembled the collapsible kayak and packed it. Next we began a fast pace hike along the waters edge. The leader explained this  was so as not to leave foot prints in the sand, the tide would wash them out. The only equipment and supplies we had, we carried with us. They consisted mainly of tools, water canister, hard tack biscuits and a couple of chocolate bars. Trust me it was a heavy load especially at the rapid pace the SAS man maintained. We walked all night and as the sun rose we headed inland to a small copse to rest through the day light hours.   I was now permitted to eat a couple of biscuits and drink some water, then rest until dusk. We had made good time covering roughly thirty of the fifty miles and completely undetected. I perhaps didn’t realize just how exhausted I was because I feel asleep almost immediately and didn’t rouse until around 3 pm. We had to wait until dusk before moving out again, we eat a few more biscuits and drank water. Then just before we prepared to set off on the last leg we each ate a chocolate bar. We had to cross a road to get back to the shore and waited in the ditch until we were sure it was clear. Once back at the waters edge the fast pace resumed, maybe a bit faster. I’m glad my partner knew where we were going because by this time I had completely lost all sense of direction.  Arriving at the pickup point we reassembled the kayak and paddle out about 200 yards off shore to await the signal from the Taciturn. It seemed like hours as we waited, I was cold, wet, tired, hungry and sure we were in the wrong place. Suddenly a quick flash of light ahead and we started paddling furiously toward it. It was a successful exercise, neither the police or the Territorial army spotted us, not really sure how hard they tried? Back aboard and in the comfort that only a submarine can provide I changed into dry clothes eat a thick cheese sandwich with a steaming mug of Hot Cocoa then turned  in. Laying in my bunk I relived the last 24 hour experience, I had no regrets it was indeed an amazing adventure,  I recalled my leader telling me I’d make a great SAS guy!! No!!! not for me, I’m elite enough as a submariner and fell into a deep (pun) sleep.

God Bless and keep reading.

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About irishroverpei

Author of "Lily & Me", "The Royal Navy & Me" and Chapter XXl Armageddon. Writer, blogger and RN Submariner, antique automobile enthusiast.
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