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Thursday, 05 November 2009


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led to the deaths of several of his men and the capture and subsequent torture of the remainder.

Can I just correct you on this Mr Duff.

Chris Ryan (his real name) was also in Bravo 2 Zero and actually managed to escape and evade back to friendly lines, as detailed in his excellent book 'The One That Got Away'.

Yes, indeed, sorry, bit of brain fade occurred!

From Chris Ryan's 'The One That Got Away' :

"When I was seventeen, on my first escape and evasion exercise with the Territorial SAS, up at Otterburn in the middle of winter, I was caught by the hunter force of Three Para. They got us, gave us a good kicking, stripped us naked, tied our wrists and anchored us up to the chest in the middle of the river until we were completely numb. Then they took us to an insulated airborne shelter (anyone know what one of those is ?), with five gas heaters blazing, where the temperature was about 120 degrees. As our circulation got going again, the pain became excruciating - and it was then, when we were doubled up in agony on the floor, that they started interrogating us about who we were and what we had been doing. As soon as we were warm and starting to recover, they put us back in the river and so began the whole process again ..."

On Ryan's eighteenth birthday he was captured and interrogated on exercise by Belgian paratroops. He doesn't say exactly what they did to him, but thought "there's no way I'm ever going to get captured again".

Brummie Stokes was a tough chap too :

British climber and SAS men Brummie Stokes and Bronco Lane survived an open-air bivouac after climbing the summit of Everest in 1976, but were badly frostbitten. When Stokes arrived back in England, he consulted with a doctor regarding his severely frostbitten toes. The doctor saw it was clear there would need to be amputation of the toes, but he advised that they should wait for two months to see which tissue was going to die off and which could be saved. The summer of 1976 was a particularly hot one, and pretty soon, as the toes started to get blacker and to separate from the good flesh, they also began to smell terribly. After the first month, tiny maggots began eating at the dead tissue between the frostbite that had gone hard and the healthy flesh on Stokes' feet. A gap was appearing between the two that began to expose the bones of the by-now dead toes.

One evening he attended a party in Hereford, and during its course a nurse from the local hospital asked to see the frostbitten toes. As he removed his dressings, the audience reeled from the smell of rotten flesh. The nurse was unfazed and asked about the maggots and whether she could touch the toes so she could know what they felt like. By now the toes were all hard and wrinkled and completely dead. She reached down to squeeze the big toe and Stokes felt a sharp pain shooting up through his ankle.

He looked down to see her fainting at his feet. She had tweaked the big toe hard and it had fallen off.

It was laying on the carpet - although not for long. The dog saw to that. Two more girls fainted and several people were sick. It was horribly embarrassing for Stokes - but at least he got most of the curry to himself!

(From High : Stories Of Survival From Everest And K2)

Nice to know that the fine traditions of my old unit 3 Para lived on! Actually, later on when I transferred to the Intelligence Corps I did spend some time with the Interrogation Centre and once had a go at some SAS trainees. Never got a word out of any of them!

All that makes it even more important that the army, and the SAS Command themselves, make better efforts to monitor the mental health of these terrific soldiers. 'McNab's' book is a sorry tale in this regard.

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