The SAS’s last remaining founding member has provided a first-hand account to BBC writers about his role in the elite unit. He parachuted into Nazi France in one of most daring missions of World War II.

Mike Sadler was one of the first soldiers to form the Special Air Service, in 1941. He has given his blessing for SAS: Rogue Heroes and shared details about his own experiences with the team.

The new series will air in six parts and is based upon the book by Ben Macintyre. It tells the story how the SAS was formed during World War II. 

Steven Knight, creator of Peaky Blinders, wrote the drama. Connor Swindells plays David Sterling, who established the SAS in Egypt in 1941 in order to carry out small-scale raids behind enemy line.

Macintyre had the opportunity to access a 500 page ‘war diary’, which was compiled by the regiment’s archivists. It included a number first-hand reports from individuals who participated in one clandestine operation or another, from the formation the regiment in 1941 to 1945.  

Tom Glynn Carney will play Mr Sadler, who is more than 100 years old. He was also a star in Dunkirk, and The King. The drama also stars Alfie Alley, Skins’ actor Jack O’Connell as well as Dominic West, The Affair actor and Game of Thrones actor.

Mike Sadler, (pictured) one of the founding members of the SAS (Special Air Service) has been in touch with the series creator and writer for the BBC's new drama SAS: Rogue Heroes

Mike Sadler pictured in 2016, is one of the founding members of the SAS

Mike Sadler (pictured, left and right) is in touch with the show’s creator and writer to share his own stories about SAS life. 

Stars of the BBC's new drama SAS: Rogue Heroes, which was filmed between Morocco and the UK and tells the extraordinary story of how the SAS was formed

Stars of the BBC’s SAS: Rogue Heroes is a new drama that was shot between Morocco and the UK. It tells the remarkable story of how the SAS was created.

The drama also stars the likes of Game of Thrones actor Alfie Allen, Skins' actor Jack O'Connell and The Affair actor Dominic West

The drama also stars Alfie Alle, Skins’ actor Jack O’Connell as well as Dominic West, The Affair actor.

It was filmed in the UK and Morocco and stars many famous faces

It was shot in the UK, Morocco and stars many of the most famous faces.

L-R Jock Lewes (Alfie Allen), David Sterling (Alfie Allen) and Paddy Mayne (Jack O'Connell)

L-R Jock Lewes (Alfie Allen), David Sterling (Alfie Allen) and Paddy Mayne (Jack O’Connell)

The drama stars a female character who is a French spy

Drama stars a French spy who plays a female role

In 2018, Mr Sadler was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur , 74 years after he parachuted into Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War. 

In 1941, Mr. Sadler enlisted in the Long Range Desert Group. It was a reconnaissance unit that was based out of the North African desert.

Lieutenant David Stirling then introduced him to the Special Air Service. He wanted to launch night raids against Axis aircraft in Libya.

Mr Sadler quickly became the unit’s top navigator as he was able to guide raiding groups across almost bare expanses of desert. 

After serving in the desert war, he fought with the SAS in France and Italy. He then set up the SAS intelligence unit.

Operation Houndsworth saw Mr Sadler parachuted into the Loire on August 7, 1944. The goal was to reach SAS squadrons behind enemy lines, destroy fuel depots, encourage resistance locally, and stop Panzer divisions from heading north. 

Mr Sadler (left) was awarded a legion d'honneur in 2018 for his work parachuting into a Nazi-occupied France

For his parachuting into Nazi-occupied France, Mr. Sadler (left), was awarded a Legion d’honneur in 2018.

The SAS are an elite group of soldiers who were founded in 1941

The SAS is an elite group of soldiers that was founded in 1941.

Paddy Mayne (Jack O'Connell) stars in the new drama

The drama stars Paddy Mayne, Jack O’Connell and other actors

Jock Lewes (Alfie Allen) and Reg Seekings (Theo Barklem-Bigg)

Jock Lewes (Alfie Alle) and Reg Seekings(Theo Barklem Bigg)

Hitler had ordered that any parachutists who were captured be executed by this point. The two-jeep convoy was attacked by Germans. Mr Sadler returned fire, allowing the other jeep escape before he fled. He was later awarded a Military Cross for gallantry.

Those who formed L Detachment SAS named themselves ‘the Originals’, with Mr Sadler being considered an honorary one. Stirling gave him the position of lieutenant but this was reportedly not disclosed to the authorities. Mr Sadler, however, finished the war as Major.

In December 1941 Mr Sadler was part the first SAS raid. It took place at Wadi Tamet airfield. A team of six men destroyed 24 aircraft, and a fuel dump.

This was led by Lieutenant Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne, a former Irish international rugby star who would become one of Britain’s most decorated soldiers.

On the night of July 26, 1942 Mr Sadler, who had no map or headlights, led 18 jeeps loaded with Vickers K machine guns through 70 miles of desert to Sidi Haneish’s airfield.

It is  not all true to the novel, with a fictional female character called Eve, played by Sofia Boutella (pictured) introduced. She is a French spy, introduced into the series by writer Steven Knight

It is  not all true to the novel, with a fictional female character called Eve, played by Sofia Boutella (pictured) introduced. Steven Knight introduced her as a French spy to the series.

As they drove between the planes, the group opened fire and destroyed at least 37 aircraft. One of the SAS jeep drivers was unfortunately shot in the head during the attack, and was buried in the sand.

Speaking in 2018, Mr Sadler said: ‘I do remember the people who didn’t survive, and who didn’t have the chance to receive this great honour,’ Mr Sadler said.

Who is Mike Sadler, founder of the SAS? The SAS founder who parachuted into Nazi-occupied France in one the most daring missions of WWII. 

Mike Sadler, now 101 was the desert navigator for the SAS. He was able guide them across featureless terrain to help them complete their missions. 

Mr. Sadler was parachuted into Nazi-occupied France during World War II. 

In 2018, he was made Chevalier of Legion d’honneur, their highest honor. 

In 1941, Mr. Sadler joined the Long Range Desert Group. This reconnaissance unit was based in the North African desert.

Lieutenant David Stirling introduced him to the Special Air Service, which was established to launch night-time attacks against Axis airfields located in Libya.

Mr Sadler quickly became the unit’s top navigator as he was able to guide raiding groups across almost bare expanses of desert. 

Following his time in the desert warfare, Mr Sadler served in the SAS in France and Italy. He then established the SAS intelligence unit. 


He was awarded the Military Medal in recognition of the Sidi Haneish and Tamit attacks.

Stirling was also one of the officers who followed Mr. Sadler on the last SAS operation in the desert war of January 1943.

The British-American 1st Army was trying to cross the Tunisian desert, but they were ambushed and killed by a German unit.

Stirling was captured, and would spend the rest the Second World War in Colditz as a prisoner-of-war.

Along with another SAS soldier, Mr Sadler was able to flee along with an Arabic-speaking Frenchman.

He led the group on a 100-mile trek over five days, without any maps or food provisions, to connect with the 1st Army.

American war correspondent A J Liebling witnessed Mr Sadler as he arrived from the desert, and wrote: ‘The eyes of this fellow were round and sky blue and his hair and whiskers were very fair.

‘His beard began well under his chin, giving him the air of an emaciated and slightly dotty Paul Verlaine.’ 

Written by Steven Knight, the creator of Peaky Blinders, the new BBC drama is not all true to the book.

Sofia Boutella plays Eve, a fictional character played by a female actor. She is a French spy, and is believed work with the SAS.

 Connor Swindells is to play the part of David Stirling, who started the SAS in 1941 in order to undertake raids on a smaller scale behind enemy lines.  

SAS: Rogue Heroes was filmed between Morocco & the UK. It was directed by Tom Shankland of The Serpent.

It is the story about a young and zany officer, Mr Stirling. He is bored in hospital.

Connor Swindells (pictured) plays the part of David Stirling, who started the SAS in 1941

David Stirling decided to start  the SAS when he was bored in hospital

Connor Swindells (pictured below) plays the role of David Stirling (pictured above), who founded the SAS in 1941.

Stirling believes that units run “traditionally” are ineffective, so he creates a plan which goes against every rule of modern warfare. 

He fights to recruit toughest, strongest soldiers as the show continues, to create a small, undercover unit.

It is designed to cause panic behind enemy lines, and it creates a team that is both reckless and brave. 

Mr Knight stated that working on SAS: Rogue Heroes was an honor because it tells the story about a rebellious band of soldiers who used imagination and wit to stop the march of fascism in North Africa.

He stated that this was a war story unlike any other, told in an inspired way by the facts, but true to the spirit of the legendary brigade, of misfits, and adventurers. 

Piers Wenger, Director of BBC Drama, said that SAS: Rogue Heroes will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

SAS: Rogue Heroes will be aired next year on BBC One, BBC iPlayer.   

What is the SAS? 

 The SAS was first formed in North Africa in July 1941, during World War II.

 David Stirling, its founder, saw the potential for a strike force that could operate independently deep behind enemy lines, attacking airfields and other important targets. 

The SAS had become a brigade, and had been in action in Italy and France by the end.

In 1945, the SAS was disbanded. However, an independent strategic surveillance and reconnaissance capability was restored in 1947 by the 21 SAS Regiment. 

A squadron was sent to Malaya in 1950 during the Malayan Emergency to fight Chinese communist rebels. It penetrated the jungle to find and destroy enemy base.

 SAS expertise at jungle operations grew, and in 1963 the regiment went to Borneo to counter Indonesian raids against the Malaysian side of the island.

 SAS patrols conducted long-term, covert cross-border surveillance operations and ambushes code-named Operation Claret, often recruiting local tribesmen to act as trackers, guides, and intelligence gatherers. 

The SAS proved to be effective in the Middle East as well. Two squadrons supported the Sultan of Oman in dealing with rebel tribesmen in 1958. 

The SAS launched an attack of lightning in the barren mountainous terrain surrounding the Mount Al-Akhdar Mountain massif. It quickly defeated the enemy. 

During the Aden Campaign (1964–67) in southern Yemen, the SAS developed urban-surveillance tactics that included luring insurgent gunmen into ambushes, using uniformed and apparently unarmed SAS officers as the bait.

 The SAS returned to Oman in 1970 to assist the new sultan to counter a Chinese communist-backed insurgency in Dhofar province. 

The SAS trained and fought alongside the sultan’s armed forces, raised groups of surrendered enemy fighters (called Firqats), and used small patrols of SAS, medics, and veterinary officers to identify and meet local needs.

The SAS’s longest operational commitment was in Northern Ireland, where from 1969 until 2007, when the military operation ended, it focused on countering the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA).

 Although small teams had been working undercover since soon after the start of the Troubles, it was not until 1976 that the regiment’s formal deployment was announced. It carried out intelligence, surveillance and strike operations to support the Royal Ulster Constabulary. 

The SAS’s most public success was in 1987 when it ambushed a large PIRA mortar team as it attacked a police station in Loughgall. It conducted a controversial operation at Gibraltar in 1988 in which a PIRA assassination group was killed in public. 

The resulting public inquiry called into question SAS tactics. Despite the fact that lethal force remained an option, subsequent operations saw more terrorists captured and less use of it.

Throughout the 1960s and ’70s the SAS developed an unrivaled expertise in counterrevolutionary warfare and counterterrorism. 

1977, its Special Projects Team assisted its West German counterpart, GSG-9, in releasing hostages from a hijacked aircraft at Mogadishu (Somalia).

 In May 1980 the SAS conducted a highly successful hostage-rescue operation at the Iranian embassy in London in full glare of international media. 

The 1982 Falkland Islands War required that the SAS perform more traditional tasks such as patrolling behind enemy lines and raiding, and also to be able to do so during the war. 

The 1990–91 Persian Gulf War saw the SAS operating in Iraq’s western desert to counter Scud missile attacks into Israel and Saudi Arabia. 

SAS liaison teams communicated directly during the Bosnian conflict of 1990s. Later, indicted war criminals were hunted by teams in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

During the 2003–11 Iraq War the SAS provided Task Forces Black and Knight to conduct counterterrorist operations in Baghdad and Basra. 

They were adept at quick-notice precision raids and could move quickly from one target towards the next as the intelligence picture developed. 

SAS squadrons also served as part of a UKSF taskforce in Afghanistan, where they trained and mentored commandos of Afghan National Army soldiers and conducted combined special forces operations against Taliban leaders and bomb-making facilities.