In March 2020, another extraordinary group of documents and memorabilia belonging to one of the first members of the Special Air Service was sold at auction. The SAS archive of Private / Trooper Fred “Killer” Casey, an early member of the elite regiment, comprised eleven lots and included the veteran’s medals, SAS beret, insignia, pocket diary, certificates, Fairbairn Sykes dagger, map and a personal photo album featuring photographs that had never been publicly displayed before.
In March 2020, another extraordinary group of documents and memorabilia belonging to one of the first members of the Special Air Service was sold at auction. The SAS archive of Private / Trooper Fred “Killer” Casey comprised eleven lots and included the veteran’s medals, SAS beret, insignia, pocket diary, certificates, Fairbairn-Sykes dagger, map and a personal photo album featuring photographs that had never been publicly displayed before. In total it achieved a hammer price of £21,000 (not including auctioneers commission and fees).
6399236 Trooper Frederick Casey was a pre-war Territorial who had joined the 4th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment in October 1936. He completed the unit’s annual camps and was the battalion’s boxing champion for three years. At the outbreak of war in 1939 he was mobilised for full-time duty and first saw action in France with the British Expeditionary Force before being evacuated on the 30th of May 1940 as part of the retreat from Dunkirk. Back in England, he volunteered for commando training and on the 10th of July 1940 was posted to F Troop, 3 Commando. On 24 October 1940, 3 Commando and 8 (Guards) Commando were reorganised into the 4th Special Service Battalion and in February 1941 Casey was transferred to 8 (Guards) Commando before being shipped to Egypt as part of Layforce, a composite group consisting of several commando units.
Layforce was initially tasked with conducting operations to disrupt the allied lines of communication in the Mediterranean and it was planned that they would take part in operations to capture the Greek island of Rhodes. However, as the strategic situation in the Middle East turned against the Allies, the commandos found themselves being used as reinforcements throughout the Mediterranean theater. By mid 1941, the authorities in Middle East Command, who had never been able to come to terms with the use of Special Service Troops, took the decision to finally disband Layforce and so on the 6th August 1941 the men made their final journey to Abbassia Barracks in Cairo where they were to be broken up and sent to other units. It was here that Casey saw a request for volunteers for further “Special Duties”.
He applied to join the fledgling Special Air Service (S.A.S.) and in August 1941, after a brief interview with David Stirling also formerly of 8 Commando and now Commanding Officer of the new unit, Fred found himself posted to “L” Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade based at Kabrit. Soon, Fred Casey was on operations, initially working closely with the Long Range Desert Group roaming the desert, raiding the German rear areas, targeting airfields and port installations in their gunned-up, customised, Willys Jeeps. In October 1942, the unit was renamed 1st Special Air Service (1 SAS).
Page detail from Fred Casey’s wartime photo album. The album consists of approximately 283 images of various sizes including a number of unpublished photos of the 1st SAS Regiment during operations in the Western Desert, parachute training, Norway etc. It also included Casey’s certificate of service with the SAS, SAS greeting cards, newspaper cuttings etc. Bosleys estimate for this lot (#139) was between £1500 – £2000. The ‘hammer’ price was £5500
Photo of Fred Casey’s ‘L’ Detachment SAS comrades in a jeep laden with stores at base camp. Photo” Fred Casey.
Members of Fred Casey’s patrol from 1 SAS having a brew somewhere in the Western Desert, 1942.
Members of Fred Casey’s patrol from 1 SAS posing for a photo after hunting impala in North Africa, 1942. Fred Casey is on the front bonnet.
One of Fred Casey’s photo album images featuring a ragged looking group of L Detachment SAS soldiers in the Western Desert, 1942. Photo: Fred Casey
Blair ‘ Paddy’ Mayne in the Western Desert. Photo: Fred Casey.jpg
SAS founder David Stirling. Photo: Fred Casey
In March 1943 Casey along with other members of A Squadron 1 SAS became part of the Special Raiding Squadron, under the command of Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne who had taken command of the unit following Stirling’s capture in January. Casey was allotted to 2 Troop, but then, in April he was admitted to hospital and discharged from the squadron, missing out on the spearhead role that the SRS was to play in Operation HUSKY, the Allied invasion of Sicily.
At the end of 1943, the Special Raiding Squadron reverted to the title of 1 SAS and along with 2 SAS was placed under the command of the 1st Airborne Division. On 7 January 1944, Casey returned to operations with 1 SAS after a period of leave. It was around this time in early 1944 that the idea of a SAS Brigade was approved, which resulted in 1 SAS being withdrawn from the Italian theater and returning to Britain.
By March 1944 all components of the SAS Brigade, numbering around 2000 men were assembled in Ayrshire where they were ordered to discard their sandy berets in favour of the airborne maroon beret, although many members opted to defy regulations and retained their sandy beige berets.
1st SAS cloth shoulder title belonging to Fred Casey. This example achieved a hammer price of £660 at the Bosleys auction in 2020.
One of Fred Casey’s SAS wings that was sold in the auction. This example reached a ‘hammer’ price of £900. Photo courtesy of Bosleys Auctioneers
They were also issued with battledress shoulder titles for 1, 2, 3 and 4 SAS in the airborne colours of pale blue on maroon. Fred Casey’s 1 SAS title is one of the lots that was sold at the auction achieving a hammer price of £660.
During this period in the UK Fred Casey married his sweetheart, Buddy, and prepared for operations in France as part of Operation OVERLORD, the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. The role of the SAS Brigade in this operation was to prevent German reinforcements reaching the front line and initially only half of the force would be committed, the remainder being held in reserve, including Casey who finally deployed to France in August 1944.
A 1944 dated Army Film and Photographic Unit film showing members of the Special Air Service doing a fire-power demonstration with their vehicle mounted Vickers K machine guns. Imperial War Museum Catalogue number: A70 217-4
At this stage, the SAS groups were carrying out a number of operations behind the lines, disrupting German supplies and communications, tying down large numbers of German troops in the process. Liaising with local resistance groups, operating bases were set up in remote wooded areas and the SAS parties roamed the countryside achieving some success, but also suffering severely at the hands of German security services. Dozens of captured SAS men were murdered in accordance with Hitler’s notorious ‘Commando’ order.
For his part, Fred Casey was presented with the “Commander-in Chief’s Certificate for Gallantry” by Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery in January 1945. When Germany finally surrendered in May 1945 Casey was sent along with 1 and 2 SAS to supervise the disarming of the 200 000 German troops stationed in Norway. This would be his last mission.
At the end of the war, the Special Air Service was disbanded. Fred Casey was discharged and transferred to the reserve on 20th of March 1946. After the war he settled in Brighton, East Sussex, became a parquet floor layer and with his wife, Buddy, had two sons, Michael and Charles.
Frederick Casey passed away in 1997 aged 81. His wartime archive and memorabilia which included all the pieces shown here was broken up and sold at auction by militaria auctioneers Bosleys in March 2020.
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A WWII L Detachment S.A.S. Military Cross group awarded for Operation BIGAMY, the 1942 raid on Benghazi
This is a rare and significant early Special Air Service Military Cross group that was awarded to Major W. J. “Bill” Cumper, Royal Engineers and 1st SAS Regiment who won the MC as a result of the famous L Detachment SAS raid on Benghazi in 1943. It was sold at auction in 2003, to an unidentified buyer, achieving a hammer price of £16,000.
William John “Bill” Cumper, an early member of ‘L’ Detachment, Special Air Service, was born in Hawick, Scotland and enlisted in the British Army as a boy soldier in January 1924. When war was declared in 1939, he was serving as a Lance-Sergeant in No. 1 Field Squadron, Royal Engineers. In May 1941 he was promoted as an Emergency Commission to the rank of Lieutenant and posted to 143 Field Park Squadron R.E. Soon he deployed to the Western Desert to join the 7th Armoured Division and was Mentioned in Despatches (MiD) in the London Gazette of 30 December 1941.
In May 1942, Cumper, a ‘tall, erect 16-stone man … who asked no quarter and gave none to his men’, was recruited to David Stirling’s still fledgling ‘L’ Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade as an explosives specialist, where he quickly established a reputation for eccentricity. John Lodwick, a fellow L Detachment member, recalls in his book Raiders from the Sea how Cumper enjoyed deflating the ego of fellow Officers. When Lodwick walked into the former enlisted man’s office for the first time, still wearing the rather garish and ostentatious uniform insignia of 12 Commando, his previous unit, Cumper shouted “My God, look out, the Commandos are here!” and dived for his captured Luger, attempting to shoot out one of the office lights.
Several SAS memoirs and histories recall similar occasions, one in particular involving a rather delicate looking Guards Officer who entered the unit’s Mess and ordered up a cup of tea. Lieutenant Cumper immediately sat down beside him, a detonator apparently tucked behind his ear, and loudly hailed a waiter with “Come ‘ere China, yer lazy rat!” And when the waiter had come, “Cup o’char, please, same as the officer”. As L Detachment medical officer, Malcolm James (Pleydell) goes on to explain in his Born of the Desert, With the S.A.S in North Africa, ‘He would step in where angels feared to tread and carry it off every time … Bill came from the ranks; he knew it, rejoiced in it, and pushed it straight in front of your face to see how you would take it.’ As it transpired, the Guards Officer took it pretty well, and he became a successful member of the unit.
When Cumper attended the six-jump parachute course, which was required training for all SAS soldiers, Cumper cut up a set of the parachute wings into six pieces and after each jump would enter the Mess with another small piece stitched onto his tunic. And the arrival of the S.A.S’s cap badge with its “Who Dares Wins” motto was simply greeted with “Oo’ cares oo’ wins?”
Then there was the night an anxious but super-efficient David Stirling had harangued his gathered Officers about everything being ready for a pending operation. Afterwards looking up from his papers, he asked when the moon would rise. Cumper, having already answered in the affirmative to a string of equipment queries, mockingly apologised, “Sorry, sir, I forgot to lay that on.”
Recruited for his knowledge of explosives, Alan Hoe, a former SAS soldier (1960-80), friend and authorised biographer of SAS founder David Stirling says in his book that Stirling believed Cumper was ‘the best and most ingenious explosives man’ ‘L’ Detachment had. A ‘likeable chap,’ Stirling said, ‘he took on all the explosives training and improved our techniques tremendously.’ Another L Detachment officer, Fitzroy Maclean having also come under Cumper’s instruction wrote in Eastern Approaches,
‘Soon it became clear we had a remarkable acquisition. In addition to his knowledge of explosives, Bill had a gift for repartee which pricked anything approaching pomposity as though with a pin. He was never bad-tempered and never at a loss … Bill had become an important part of our lives.’
Members of the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) with a jeep armed with twin Vickers Class K-guns, 1942. The LRDG worked closely with the SAS in their early days, using the LRDG’s knowledge of the desert and vehicles to assist with infiltration and extraction tasks.
Bill Cumper was not just responsible for explosives training and eagerly participated in operations, being famously observed stating on the eve of one ‘activity’ as saying “Not for me mate; I’m too old. What time do we start?” These included Operation Bigamy (sometimes also incorrectly referred to as Operation Snowdrop), the raid on Benghazi in September 1942 where Cumper actually led ‘L’ Detachment to the very gates of the enemy’s Benghazi positions, for, having crawled around in the dark to investigate the surrounding mines, he went forward and unhitched the bar on the road-block, facetiously announcing, as the bar swung skyward, “Let battle commence”. It did. The words were scarcely out of his mouth when all hell broke loose. Quickly hot-footing it to Stirling’s jeep, with the faithful Reg Seekings at the wheel, amidst heavy machine-gun and mortar fire, he told the latter, undoubtedly within earshot of his CO, “If this is the bloody SAS you can keep it, you crazy bastard.” In fact, transport that night became a serious problem, the three leading jeeps quickly being marked by the enemy’s fire.
Cumper eventually alighted upon another, the driver, Sgt Bob Bennett receiving a broadside when he was unceremoniously ejected from the back as recounted in Philip Warner’s book, The Special Air Service, ‘(Cumper) leapt on to the one driven by Sergeant Bennet (sic); his hold was not very secure and after a while he fell off. Bennet stopped the jeep and ran back. Cumper was lying in the middle of the road, head supported on arm as if on a vicarage lawn. All around was an inferno of fire and explosion. As Bennet came up – to find Cumper unhurt – Cumper said: ‘Now, look here Bennet, if that’s the way you treat your passengers I’m going to stay here and have a nice quiet read until you’ve learnt to drive properly.’
They made it back safely and it was for the Benghazi raid that Cumper received his Military Cross (MC) which was gazetted on 14 October 1943. The recommendation for the award states,
‘On 14 September 1942, the 1st S.A.S. Regiment raided Benghazi. From information received on the previous day it was believed that the Benghazi garrison had fortified their position by mines, wire and other entanglements. These obstructions to a night raiding party without artillery or tanks might have proved disastrous. Captain Cumper volunteered to lift the mines and clear a way through the entanglements and so lead the raiding party in. He picked a way which avoided mines and got the party to within thirty yards of the enemy’s positions. He carried on and managed to open the gate which allowed the attacking force to get at the enemy. All through the operation, Captain Cumper’s cheerfulness and bravery had a magnificent effect on the morale of the troops, and, although faced with an extremely dangerous and difficult job, he showed no regard for his own safety.’
In September 1943, Cumper was transferred to HQ Raiding Forces with whom he served until September of the following year, an appointment that witnessed further clandestine operations with the Special Raiding Squadron (SRS), 2 SAS and Special Boat Squadron (SBS). According to Richard Capell’s 1946 book, Simiomata: A Greek Note Book 1944-45, Cumper participated in no less than 30 operations during this time. Among them was the raid conducted by the SBS and Greek Sacred Squadron on the island of Symi (Operation Tenement) in July 1944. John Lodwick recalls how Cumper set about assorted demolition work once the German garrison had been brought to heel: ‘General demolitions were begun by Bill Cumper and installations as varied as 75mm gun emplacements, diesel fuel pumps and cable-heads, received generous charges. Ammunition and explosive dumps provided fireworks to suit the occasion. In the harbour, nineteen German caiques, some displacing as much as 150 tons, were sunk. At midnight the whole force sailed, the prisoners being crowded into two ‘Ems’ barges …’
1st Special Boat Service in the Mediterranean and Aegean, 1943-45. ‘A Levant Schooner’, a typical Greek caique, naval crew of 3, carying a Special Boat Service patrol of approximately 12 men. Vessel armed with one PAK 38 (Panzerabwehrkanone) forward and two .303 Browning Medium Machine Guns amidships. Fitted with a Valentine tank diesel engine with a maximum speed of approximately 8 knots, typically used for island raids. Photograph: IWM collection. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205302732
Bill Cumper returned to the SAS between August 1945 and January 1946, prior to returning to regular duties with the Royal Engineers and was finally discharged from military service in December 1948 with the honorary rank of Major, having been awarded his Long Service & Good Conduct medal (L.S. & G.C.) the previous March. He moved to Rhodesia with his wife and died tragically after a stay in a prison hospital in December 1954. He had suffered a stroke, been paralysed and unable to speak, but had been turned away from the Salisbury General Hospital because his admission papers were signed for a hospital 300 miles away. Critically ill, with his Greek born wife not allowed to nurse him at home, he was sent to the Salisbury Gaol where he was locked up in the prison hospital without attendants other than the guard. He died shortly after his release. He left behind a widow and son, the latter’s godfather being David Stirling.
Bill Cumper’s medal group is another significant special forces medal group that has been sold by the auction house, Dix Noonan Web. The lot included his Military Cross, G.VI.R. reverse officially dated ‘1943’ and additionally inscribed ‘Major W. J. Cumper, R.E.); 1939-45 Star; Africa Star, clasp, 8th Army; Italy Star; Defence and War Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaf; General Service 1918-62, 1 clasp, Palestine 1945-48 (Major W. J. Crumper (M.C.) R.E.) note spelling of surname; Regular Army L.S. & G.C., G.VI.R., 1st issue (2.Lieut. W. J. Cumper, (M.C.) R.E.) this with official corrections, together with Greek commemorative Campaign Star 1941-45 (Land Operations), officers’ bullion SAS wings, Free French wings, cloth cap badge and ‘1st S.A.S.’ shoulder title, Greek Sacred Squadron bronze badge, cloth and bullion Greek Service badge, 1st pattern SAS Association enamelled badge, this numbered ‘538’, and similar tie-pin Also included was a quantity of original documentation, including M.I.D. Certificate dated 30 December 1941 (Lieutenant, Royal Engineers), War Office forwarding letter for M.C., named certificate for Greek Sacred Squadron badge, various official wartime ‘flimsies’ concerning his M.I.D., registration of marriage (Lieut. W. J. Cumper, “L” Det. S.A.S. Bde, Combined Training Centre, 22 Aug. 1942) and a Movement Order, official copy recommendation for M.C., several original photographs and news cuttings.
If you like what you see here, please FOLLOW this page via email or by using either the buttons below or in the column on the right. I try to post NEW content as often as possible and knowing that somebody is looking at this gives me the encouragement I need to set aside time to go through my archives and collection in order to develop the content for the page. And of course, feel free to contact me here, via email or by visiting my Facebook or Instagram pages
The Australian War Memorial will be reopening to the public on 1 July 2020. However due to COVID-19 restrictions visitors must now have a ticket (free) to gain entry. Tickets may still be obtained at the entrance, but as availability is subject to museum capacity, a better option is to pre-register for tickets online as […]
The Australian War Memorial will be reopening to the public on 1 July 2020. However due to COVID-19 restrictions visitors must now have a ticket (free) to gain entry. Tickets may still be obtained at the entrance, but as availability is subject to museum capacity, a better option is to pre-register for tickets online as some time-slots have already been booked out.
For those who cannot visit, the AWM has also been working hard to make its collection and archives available to the public online, including virtual tours of the galleries via Google Street View plus podcasts, the AWM YouTube Channel and a collection of over 6000 archival films which have been digitised and available for viewing online. For collectors, the AWM collection archive is a particularly useful resource to find out more information about the objects that are on display.
I took the above photograph during my most recent visit to the AWM, which was back in 2018 when I flew across to Canberra to check out the Australian Special Forces exhibition, From the Shadows. This photograph shows a display in the Vietnam War section of the 1945 to Today Galleries that features items belonging to Australian SAS trooper Don Barnby during his service with 2 SAS Squadron in South Vietnam in 1971. Using the AWM’s collection search facility uncovers a trove of material related to his service, some of which is shown below.
Donald Richard Barnby was born in Brewarrina, NSW on 8 April 1950 and joined the Australian Regular Army aged 17 in May 1967. After completing basic training at Kapooka in New South Wales, Barnby was allocated to the Royal Australian Ordnance Corps and after completing his initial employment training was posted to 2 Base Ordnance at Moorebank, NSW. Frustrated by not having a combat role, Barnby volunteered for service with the Special Air Service Regiment. After completing the selection and reinforcement cycle, including Military Free-Fall parachuting, Barnby became part of F Troop of 2 Squadron.
From 17 February to 10 October 1971, Trooper Barnby deployed to South Vietnam as a member of Patol Two Five, F Troop, 2 Squadron, SASR. This was 2 Squadron’s second tour of Vietnam and the last of SASR’s involvement in the conflict. Based out of the 1st Australian Task Force base at Nui Dat, Phuoc Tuy Province, the squadron conducted clandestine reconnaissance and offensive operations against the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong.
After returning from his tour, Don Barnby decided to leave the Army in early 1973 and joined the Australian Capital Territory Police Force, which later became the Australian Federal Police (AFP). He served in numerous roles during his police career including as a United Nations Australian Civilian Police Officer (UN AUSTCIVPOL), with the AFP 1st UN Police Contingent, deployed to East Timor on behalf of the United Nations and responsible for organising the independence referendum in August 1999. His story is recounted in detail in an interview that features on the AWM’s podcast series, Life on the Line. The podcast is worth listening to as Don goes into some detail about his tour, the equipment he carried and other aspects of this service.
Nui Dat. SAS Hill, South Vietnam. 1971-04-08. Members of patrol Two Five, ‘F’ Troop, 2 Squadron, Special Air Service (SAS) at Nadzab LZ after returning from their second patrol. The patrol of nine days was from 30 March until 8 May 1971. Left to right, back row: Corporal Ian Rasmussen (patrol 2IC), Trooper Don Barnby (patrol signaller), Trooper Dennis Bird (patrol scout), 2nd Lieutenant Brian Russell (patrol commander). Front row: Trooper Bill Nisbett (rifleman), John Deakin (USN-SEAL attached). AWM Accession Number: P00966.084
Trooper Don Barnby a Member of Two Five patrol, 2 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment on SAS Hill, Nui Dat, South Vietnam immediately prior to moving out on patrol. AWM Accession Number: P00966.047
In addition to the photographs that Don Barnby took whilst in Vietnam, searching the collection database also shows many of the individual items in the display, with the descriptions providing valuable additional information. Click on the smaller photos below to enlarge and read caption the details.
Composite webbing set : Trooper D R Barnby, 2 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment. Description: A composite webbing set, consisting of standard US pattern waist belt, metal buckle and ‘H’ harness suspender. The suspender has been modified with the addition of five nylon webbing M79 40 mm grenade pouches, cut from a US Air Force survival vest, which are attached vertically down each front suspender strap. A blackened round brass press button secures each grenade pouch cover. Worn at the back of the belt is a large Australian 1937 Pattern basic canvas pouch and a British 1944 Pattern water bottle and carrier. In place of the standard Australian issue basic pouches at the front are twin US Special Forces M16 5.56 mm magazine pouches and two compass pouches, one containing insect repellent. Attached to the 1937 Pattern pouch is another compass pouch, containing another insect repellent container and inside the pouch is a field dressing. The webbing set has been hand camouflaged by adding random blotches of green and black paint. A US issue plastic M6 bayonet scabbard is also attached. AWM Accession Number: REL/14214.005
ERDL camouflage trousers : Trooper D R Barnby, 2 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment. Description: Pair of ERDL camouflaged Ripstop trousers, fitted with olive green plastic buttons. A pair of slash pockets are fitted at the hips. The trousers have a waist band with four belt loops and a concealed button fly closure. The trousers feature a concealed map pocket, with button opening on each thigh. The bottom of each trouser leg has an internal loop of fabric to blouse the trousers. The Ripstop material in the trousers includes nylon threads cross hatched through the cotton base fabric. History / Summary This distinctive camouflage is the ERDL pattern which was developed by the United States Army at the Engineer Research & Development Laboratories (ERDL) in 1948, and was first issued to US special operations units and the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) operating in South Vietnam from early 1967. This ERDL variation is also known as the brown based ‘highland’ or ‘wet season’ type. AWM Accession Number: REL29666.002
US tropical pattern gloves : Trooper D R Barnby, 2 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment. Description Two right hand, olive green, US issued tropical gloves with the tops of all fingers removed. Two thirds of the top surface of the gloves is made from an olive green nylon mesh, with the index finger being entirely covered with Nomex. This Nomex extends up the entire length of the upper glove to the cuff. The palms of the gloves are made from a worn Nomex material. The stitching for one of the glove’s right thumb is slightly frayed, and has come undone, with the other one entirely missing. The glove with the missing thumb also has a blue-green coloured number 9 hand written midway along the top of the glove above the index finger. This glove is also of a slightly lighter coloured olive green colour than the other. Around the cuff of the gloves is zig-zag stitching which slightly blouses the gloves. History / Summary These gloves were modified and worn on operations, to help protect the wearer’s hands from the harsh conditions of the jungle and when using weapons. They also provided a form of camouflage for the exposed hands of the wearer, Trooper Don Barnby. AWM Accession Number: REL/14214.004
United States experimental tropical pattern boots : Trooper D R Barnby, 2 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment. Description: Pair of experimental United States Army tropical boots. The black leather nose caps of both boots are heavily worn, exposing raw leather. The heel of each boot is also black leather. The body and tongue of each boot consists of olive green nylon. A large metal and black nylon zip secures the boots. A vertical lacing system is a feature of the boots, incorporating eighteen metal eyelets per boot and black nylon cord. There are a pair of circular brass eyelets on the inside arch of each boot, for removing excess water. The soles of both boots are black rubber which are worn from use. AWM Accession Number: REL/14214.003
Wrist compass : Trooper D R Barnby, 2 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment. Description: Wrist mounted magnetic compass, finished in medium green aluminium and fitted with a worn olive green nylon wrist strap. The compass has degrees etched into the edge of the rotating dial and mils indicators every 10 mils etched into the body. A small arrow is etched into the top of the compass body, next to the wrist strap. An index pointer consisting of a pair of 2 mm high vertical lines, separated by a small 1 mm diameter dot are stamped into the rotating dial. An orienting arrow and parallel orienting lines, marked in red, are fitted to the base of the compass on a rotating housing. The wrist strap has seven 2 mm diameter metal bounded holes centrally placed for adjusting the size. An indent with remnants of an unknown blue-green substance (possibly verdigris) is on the fourth hole. This indent corresponds with the wrist band metal buckle. The wrist band is fitted with a pair of horizontally arranged 5 mm diameter bands for securing the excess wrist band length. One of these horizontal bands is adjustable along the wrist band and the other, in a lesser condition, is stitched to the buckle arrangement. History / Summary Infantry and Special Forces troops on operations, need to carry a wide range of equipment such as navigational aids to successfully conduct their patrols. It is critical that these objects are as light and as compact as possible to save valuable space and weight. This commercially available self wrist compass is an example of this attitude; recent advice notes that these Silva compasses were purchased and supplied by the the American CISO (Counter Insurgency Support Office). AWM Accession Number: REL/14214.009
Plastic travel tooth brush : Trooper D R Barnby, 2 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment. Description: Two piece plastic travel tooth brush and container. The protective container is slightly warped and cracked in places and is made from teal coloured plastic. One side of the container has etched ‘STAN[illegible]E’ and below, separated by a thin ridge is ‘TRAVEL TOOTHBRUSH’. A pair of 1 mm diameter holes are fitted to the end of the container to allow water to leave the container when closed. A shortened white plastic toothbrush, complete with worn yellowed plastic bristles, fits into the protective container leaving the handle exposed. This shortened toothbrush can then inserted into the open end of the container, forming a full length toothbrush. Remnants of toothpaste appear to still be attached to the toothbrush, handle and interior surfaces of the container. History / Summary: Infantry and Special Forces troops on operations need to carry a wide range of personal objects to maintain themselves on patrols. It is critical that these objects are as light and as compact as possible to save valuable space and weight for their military equipment and weapons. This commercially available self contained travelling toothbrush is an example of this attitude. AWM Accession Number: REL/14214.010
Two sticks of camouflage cream : Trooper D R Barnby, 2 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment. Description: A pair of personal camouflage cream sticks made from an unknown substance, one black and one green. Both sticks are covered in a clear cellophane wrapper, the green camouflage cream stick also has a gold coloured foil paper wrapper covering 4/5 of the length. The black camouflage cream stick has been used heavily and has some of the black cream exposed at one end. History / Summary: This pair of camouflage cream sticks were used by Trooper Don Barnby while serving in South Vietnam in 1971 with 2 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment (SASR). Virtually all SASR members camouflaged their exposed skin (face, ears and neck in particular) before and during patrols. These sticks are examples of contemporary camouflage creams carried on SASR patrols in the late Vietnam war period. AWM Accession Number: REL/14214.011
Marker panel : Trooper D R Barnby, 2 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment. Description: Bright pink plastic marker panel, fitted with six aluminium reinforced eyelets. A piece of olive drab nylon cord, folded in half, is secured through each of the eyelets. There are no manufacturers markings on the marker panel. History / Summary: Marker panels were used during the Vietnam War for a multitude of purposes, such as indicating Landing Zones (LZs) for helicopters, for marking positions of friendly forces to aircraft providing observation or fire support. They can also come in other bright colours such as bright yellow or orange. This particular marker panel was used in Vietnam by Trooper Don Barnby. AWM Accession Number: REL/14214.008
In addition to the links and mentioned above, there are also curated online collectionsand the Australian War Memorial blog which includes a fascinating selection of articles from the AWM’s historians, curators, librarians and exhibition team that covers Australian military history, recent acquisitions, events and exhibitions. There is more than enough material to keep one engrossed for days and I found that once I started looking new avenues of exploration just kept on opening up. It is an incredible resource, even if you cannot visit in person.
If you like what you see here, please FOLLOW this page via email or by using either the buttons below or in the column on the right. I try to post NEW content every second Sunday (at least) and knowing that somebody is looking at this gives me the encouragement I need to set aside time to go through my archives and collection in order to develop the content for the page. And of course, feel free to contact me here, via email or by visiting my Facebookor Instagram pages
Last week, in Part 1 of my review of the Army Museum of Western Australia, I showed some of the exhibits from the Tradtions, Pre-1914, World War One, Prisoner of War and World War 2 Galleries. This second part focuses on the Post 1945 Galleries and the Guns & Vehicles section which includes the larger exhibits not displayed in the main exhibition building.
Click on the photographs to enlarge the images and read the caption information which provides more detail about what is shown in the photographs.
The POST-1945 gallery examines the Army’s involvement from the Occupation of Japan, through the Korean, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam conflicts up to contemporary operations in the Middle East. Also included are exhibits related to the various humanitarian and United Nations deployments as well as uniforms from the locally based Citizen Military Force (reservist) units.
Australian Army Sergeant in the 65th Infantry Battalion serving with the BCOF forces in Japan c1947. Photo: Julian Tennant
Babysan was a comic created by American artist Bill Hume while he was stationed in Japan in the 1950s. The comic depicts American sailors interacting with a pin-up style Japanese woman named Babysan. The title comes from the word “baby” an affectionate term Americans use and “san” which is an honorary term used by the Japanese. It translates literally to Miss Baby. The comic became incredibly popular with United States service members in Japan by mixing good humor with culture, language, and sex. Photo: Julian Tennant
British Commonwealth Occupation Force shoulder patches worn by Australian troops during the occupation of Japan. Photo: Julian Tennant
Korea c1952. Australian soldier wearing the distinctive Rising Sun cap badge on the peak of his US issue cap. Photo: Julian Tennant
Malayan Communist (CT) peak cap. These caps were not standard issue and rarely seen. Photo: Julian Tennant
After covering the occupation of Japan, Korean War and Malayan emergency of the 1950’s the galleries then turn their attention to the army units based in Western Australia.
Australian Special Air Service Regiment soldier in summer dress, circa 1980. Photo: Julian Tennant
Cabinet display featuring the Officer’s Service Dress Winter tunic worn by Major Doug French of the Royal Australian Regiment, 5th Military District presentation plaque and Australian Army insignia. Photo: Julian Tennant
3 Troop, A Squadron, 10 Light Horse Regiment soldier wearing a Tank Suit. Behind him is an original 10th Light Horse recruiting board c1976. Photo: Julian Tennant
Hat Khaki Fur Felt (better known as a “slouch hat”) worn by Major General Ken Taylor AO when Honorary Colonel of the Pilbra Regiment. Photo: Julian Tennant
Insignia detail of St Patricks College Cadet Unit c1965. Photo: Julian Tennant
Army Cadet Corps insignia worn in Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
The galleries then turn their attention to the 1960’s with it’s Vietnam War displays which feature some interesting items related to members of the Perth based Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) in Vietnam. SASR, which was first raised as a Company based at the coastal suburb of Swanbourne. The unit first deployed on operations to Borneo prior to its service in Vietnam and this is the one gap that I noticed in the displays. However, I’m not sure if this is an omission on the part of the museum or just me missing something as I tried to take in everything on display.
Zippo lighter given to Sgt. Kim Pember of 2 SAS Squadron (Australian Special Air Service Regiment) after the squadron completed its second tour in Vietnam. Photo: Julian Tennant
Special Air Service Regiment beret belonging to Ian ‘Bagzar’ Stiles who served with 3 SAS Squadron (Australian Special Air Service Regiment) during both of their tours of Vietnam and then went on to serve with the Rhodesian SAS. Note the British made anodised beret badge and distinctive fawn coloured headband which was used on the SASR berets of the period. Photo: Julian Tennant
Vietnam gun pit diorama in the Post 1945 gallery at the Army Museum of Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
Vietnam mortar crew diorama in the Post 1945 gallery at the Army Museum of Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
The POST 1945 Gallery then transitions to more recent operations including humanitarian support operations, United Nations deployments and Australia’s commitments to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Australian ‘digger’ wearing the uniform and equipment of the INTERFET deployment to East-Timor, 1999. Photo: Julian Tennant
United Nations Transitional Authority Cambodia (UNTAC) Mine Clearance Training Unit patch and English/Khmer phrase book from the UN deployment to Cambodia in the early 1990s. Photo: Julian Tennant
Items belonging to Major General Ian Gordon whilst commanding the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNSTO) in 2009. Also included is the beret and badge worn whilst he was a Lieutenant Colonel in Commando of UN Operation CEDILLA 1991 in the Western Sahara (MINURSO). Photo: Julian Tennant
Australian Special Forces Survival Kit and ‘Most Wanted’ playing/identification cards from the invasion of Iraq 2003. Photo: Julian Tennant
Military Police sergeant in Iraq. Photo: Julian Tennant
The final section is referred to as GUNS AND VEHICLES and is spread around the main parade-ground plus the other covered locations external to the main building. The exhibits featured in this section range from heavy mortar’s and artillery pieces to armoured cars, tanks and other vehicles. Of particular interest in this section is the Australian Special Forces Amphibian Mk3 Commando Kayak which replaced the German made Klepper Aerius II in 1988. I was also surprised to see one of the Mercedes Unimogs that had been converted by SASR as a support vehicle for use in Afghanistan and I suspect that this may be the only one in a public collection in Australia.
2 Pounder Anti-Tank Gun manufactured by the GMH factory at Woodville in South Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
Leopard AS1 Main Battle Tank at the Army Museum of Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
Tanks and AFV’s at the front of the main building of the Army Museum of Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
25 pounder gun and Centurion tank in the background at the Army Museum of Western Australia. Photo: Julian Tennant
25 pounder casket carriage used for formal state funerals. Photo: Julian Tennant
M113A1 MRV (Medium Reconnaissance Vehicle) which coupled the turret from the Scorpion FV101 light tank with the M113A1 Armoured Personnel Carrier for use as a fire support vehicle for Cavalry units. Between 1979 and 1996 a total of 45 M113A1 MRVs served in the Australian Army. Photo: Julian Tennant
This is a well laid out and interesting museum, with clear descriptions of the exhibits, supported by a staff of volunteers including many ex-servicemen who are happy to chat to visitors. Being largely volunteer run, the opening hours are a little restricted, being from 10:30 until 15:00 (last entries 13:00) from Wednesday to Sunday. There is no on-site parking for visitors, but it is not too difficult to find parking in the surrounding streets. If you’re relying on public transport, several buses leaving from the Fremantle train station pass close by or it’s an easy 20-minute walk from the station. An important point for visitors to note is that all adult visitors must be able to show appropriate photo identification (passport, drivers’ licence etc) prior to entry.
The Army Museum of Western Australia
Fremantle, Western Australia, 6160
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The Airborne Assault Museum is housed within the IWM Duxford complex and visitors have to buy an entry ticket to the Imperial War Museum Duxford to gain entry to Airborne Assault.
Yamaha Quad All Terrain Vehicle (ATV), Afghanistan 2010. The ATV’s with attached trailers deliver food, water and ammunition to troops in difficult to access areas or where larger vehicles are not suitable. Photo: Julian Tennant
Horsa Glider nose cone and exhibit displays in the Airborne Assault Museum.
The Airborne Assault Museum traces the history of British Airborne Forces since their beginning in 1940 to the present day. The museum was originally established by the Committee of the Parachute Regiment Association in October 1946 and relocated from its former home in Browning Barracks, Aldershot to Hangar no.1 (Building 213) of the Imperial War Museum at Duxford in 2008.
Some of the weapons and uniforms on display at Airborne Assault Duxford
Early WW2 era parachutist during training at Ringway. He wears the early smock and training helmet made by by SL & M Feathers Ltd and used between 1940-43.
Horsa Glider Pilot
WW2 Parachute Regiment soldier kitted up with equipment and parachute.
Horsa Glider cockpit nose cone.
Whilst relatively small and tucked away in the back corner of the hangar, the museum is extremely well done. The outside the entrance some of the heavy equipment used by the Airborne Forces is on display, but the really interesting stuff, for a collector like me, was inside. Lots of uniforms, weapons, personal kit and artifacts related to the Parachute Regiment and other Airborne soldiers from the time of their formation in 1940 through the various campaigns of WW2 to post war operations in the Suez crisis, Borneo, Aden, Northern Ireland, The Falklands, Kosovo, the Middle East and Afghanistan.
To visit Airborne Assault you have to buy an entry ticket to the Imperial War Museum Duxford, which will also give you entry to the other exhibition spaces, including the Land Warfare Display and the Royal Anglian Regiment Museum both of which are also worth a visit along with the other air warfare related displays. I’ll do a review and show some pictures of those exhibits in a future post.
Parachute Regiment crowd control duties, Op ‘Banner’, Northern Ireland 1960’s to early 70’s.
Para Sig wearing a 1959 pattern Denison smock. Note the claymore in front of his radio.
Glider Pilot Regiment battledress blouse with M.R.C. (Medical Research Council) body armour, consisting of three 1mm thick manganese steel plates, covering the chest, lower belly and lower back. They were usually worn under the denison smock.
Parachute Regiment circa 1944
Parachutist undertaking a static line jump with equipment.
Pathfinder of 16 Air Assault Brigade kitted out for a High Altitude parachute insertion. Photo: Julian Tennant
Parachute Regiment ‘Red Devils’ parachute display team display.
Subdued Parachutist wing and DZ flash worn by members of the 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment.
Op ‘Corporate’ 1982 – Falkand Islands display.
“Crow” from 1 Para, Operation Agricola, Kosovo, 1999.
Open every day from 10am, including Bank Holidays Opening times for the Winter (October to March) are:
10am – 5pm Opening times for the Summer (March to October) are:
10am – 6pm Closed 24, 25 and 26 December.
Located a short walk from Buckingham Palace, The Guards Museum contains information and artifacts relating to the five regiments of Foot Guards namely the Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards.
Officers beret of the Guards Independent Parachute Company.
Guards Independent Parachute Company.
Uniforms and other artifacts related to the foot guards regiments during their deployments in the latter half of the 20th century.
Guards desert disruptive pattern uniform worn during deployments to the Middle East.
Tactical Recognition Flashes of the Brigade of Guards.
Ferret Scout car used by the Guards Independent Parachute Company.
This is a great little museum full of uniforms, medals, insignia and booty from their origins right through to current operational deployments. As a collector with an interest in airborne and special forces insignia, I was particularly impressed by the number of items related to G Squadron of 22SAS Regiment and the Guards Independent Parachute Company including a Burnous cloak worn by a guardsmen serving with the SAS during the first Gulf War. The exhibits are well laid out with good descriptions, but photographs are usually not permitted. If you would like to do a personalised ‘walk and talk’ with one of the staff, you can do so for an extra £10 per person on top of the current £8 entry fee (discounted for pensioners, students, serving and ex-military personnel).
Brown Burnous and green Shemag worn by a member of G (Guards) Squadron 22 SAS Regiment during the Gulf War in 1991.
No. 2 Dress tunic of Field Marshal The Lord Guthrie of Graggy Bank. Note the ERII cypher indicating the Field Marshal is an ADC to the Queen and the SAS ‘moth’ para wings on the upper right arm. Photo: Julian Tennant
Co-located just outside the museum, near the Birdcage Walk gate is the Guards shop known as The Guards Toy Soldier Centre, which is managed by MKL Models and features a range of toy soldiers from manufacturers such as William Britain plus Brigade of Guards related souvenirs such as mugs, blazer badges, spoons etc. The model figures are displayed in a range of dioramas as well the usual display cabinets and even just a trip to the shop is worthwhile in itself.
Extremely rare Coldstream Guards Other Ranks Shako worn only from 1829 until 1831 when the bearskin cap was first introduced to the Regiment.
Jacket worn by Field Marshal Arthur Duke of Wellington KG, two days before the Battle of Waterloo.
The Guards Museum Wellington Barracks. Photo: Julian Tennant
Entrance to The Guards Museum.
Co-located just outside the museum is The Guards Toy Soldier Centre which serves as a museum shop as well as selling an impressive range of model and toy soldiers.
The Guards Museum Wellington Barracks Birdcage Walk London SW1E 6HQ United Kingdom
On loan from 2 Commando Company and the Australian Commando Association – Victoria , this Dennison parachute smock was part of the recent From the Shadows: Australian Special Forces exhibition at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
The smock was worn by WO1 Douglas “Dutchy” Holland during his time as a PJI at the Parachute Training School at Williamtown. ‘Dutchy’, served in the RAF from 1940 until 1948 before joining the RAAF. He qualified as PJI number 6 at the first Parachute Jump Instructors course run by Parachute Training Wing (PTW) in 1954. A legend in the history of Australian parachute training, he was awarded the MBE for his services to military parachuting in 1958 and in 1959 became the first person in Australia to achieve 500 jumps. When “Dutchy” retired in 1962 he had completed 663 descents including 60 at night and 29 water jumps. He decorated this Dennison jump smock with various Australian and foreign parachute badges, including some (now) very rare and desirable insignia.
Australia’s special forces trace their history back to World War 2, with the operations conducted by the Independent Commando companies, Navy Beach Commando, the Services Reconnaissance Department SRD (Z Special Unit) and the Allied Intelligence Bureau (M Special Unit). Post war, the skills and traditions were maintained by the commando companies which later evolved into 1 Commando Regiment and then in 1957 by the raising of a Special Air Service Company which became the Special Air Service Regiment in 1964. 2 Commando Regiment evolved out of the re-tasking of the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, to take on the commando role becoming 4 RAR (Cdo) in 1997 and then 2 Commando Regiment in 2009.
Command and control for Australian special operations units was initially maintained by the Directorate Special Action Forces – Army (DSAF) which was formed in 1979 and underwent several changes, becoming Headquarters Special Forces (1990), Headquarters Special Operations (1997) and in 2003 Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Commanded by a Major General, SOCOM also brings other special operations support units under its control, namely the Special Operations Logistic Squadron (SOLS), Special Operations Engineer Regiment (SOER), Special Operations Training and Education Centre (SOTEC) and Parachute Training School (PTS).
In keeping with the requirements of special forces operations, the activities of many of Australia’s special operations units have, largely, been kept out of the public domain despite a gruelling tempo of operational commitments that has barely let up since the INTERFET deployment to East Timor in 1999. Public interest in the units has grown markedly and this temporary exhibition at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra provides a rare insight into the activities of the Australian special forces in recent years.
Developed in partnership with SOCOM, this exhibition features items held behind closed doors in the Special Air Service Historical Collection, Commando Regiment collection and other sources as well as some artifacts from the AWM’s collections. The displays provide some historical insights into the development of the units along with uniforms, equipment and artifacts related to its various roles, tasks and operations with an emphasis recent operational deployments.
It had been several years since I was last able to visit the AWM, so I recently took advantage of an opportunity to visit Canberra and spend a few solid days checking out this exhibition and the other displays. As previously mentioned, From the Shadows draws on objects held in the unit collections and not available for public viewing. There are over 600 artifacts on display and I was surprised to find that many of the SF related items that are held in the AWM collection such as SAS trooper Don Barnby’s uniform from Vietnam or objects relating to Z Special Unit’s operations against the Japanese, remained in their respective exhibition areas which further helps to contextualise these units roles in the conflicts represented.
The photos that I have included here are just a taste of what is on offer in the From the Shadows exhibition and I’ll leave my other photos from the AWM collection for another post. From the Shadows runs until the 8th of September 2018. If you can make the trip to Canberra to check it out, I strongly recommend that you do, it is an excellent exhibition. More details about the exhibition can be found at the Australian War Memorial website. The ABC also did a piece about it when the exhibition first opened in 2017 and it is worth taking a look at. You can find a link to their article here.
‘From the Shadows: Australia’s Special Forces – The Operators’ video that was featured in the gallery during the exhibition
Sgt Matthew ‘Locky’ Locke MG, Australian Special Air Service Regiment. Killed in Action whilst on patrol as part of Operation Spin Gear in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan 25 October 2007. Lest We Forget.
Sergeant Matthew Locke enlisted into the Australian Regular Army on the 11 June, 1991. After he completed his Recruit Training at Kapooka, he was allocated to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps and commenced his Initial Employment Training at Singleton, New South Wales on the 10 September 1991. At the completion of his Initial Employment Training, Matthew was posted to the 5th/7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment.
Matthew had a flair for Infantry training and whilst at the 5th/7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, he completed Driver Courses, Basic Mortar Course, promotion courses and became a Small Arms Coach.
It was obvious that Matthew wanted to be challenged as a soldier so in November 1997, Matthew successfully completed the Special Air Service Selection Course. Over the next two years, Matthew completed another 15 specialist courses ranging from patrolling, demolitions, diving, parachuting, and medical. Matthew was posted to the 3rd Special Air Service Squadron.
Sergeant Locke was awarded the Medal for Gallantry, the Australian Active Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Australian Defence Medal, the United Nations Medal with the United Nations Transitional Authority East Timor Ribbon, the Iraq Clasp to the Australian Active Service Medal, the International Coalition Against Terrorism Clasp to the Australian Active Service Medal, the Infantry Combat Badge and the Returned from Active Service Badge.
During Sergeant Locke’s service in the Australian Army he deployed on the following Operations:
a. OPERATION TANAGER (East Timor) – 2001;
b. OPERATION SLIPPER (Afghanistan) – 2002, 2004, 2006 & 2007; and
c. OPERATION CATALYST (Iraq) – 2004, 2005, 2007.
Medal for Gallantry:
Sergeant Locke was awarded the Medal for Gallantry in December 2006. The medal citation read:
“For gallantry in action in hazardous circumstances as the second-in-command of a Special Air Service Regiment patrol in the Special Forces Task Group whilst deployed on Operation Slipper, Afghanistan, in 2006.
During the conduct of an operation, a patrol, with Sergeant Locke as second-in-command, were tasked with establishing an Observation Post in extremely rugged terrain over looking an Anti-Coalition Militia sanctuary. After an arduous 10 hour foot-infiltration up the side of the mountain, the patrol was called into action to support elements of the Combined Task Force Special Forces patrol that were in contact with the Anti-Coalition Militia in the valley floor to their north. After the engagement, Sergeant Locke’s patrol remained in their location and was the only coalition ground element with visibility of the target area.
During the course of the next day the patrol continued to coordinate offensive air support against identified Anti-Coalition Militia positions in order to further disrupt and degrade the enemy’s morale.
During the afternoon, the Observation Post became the focus of the Anti-Coalition Militia who made repeated attempts by day and night to overrun and surround the position. In one such incident the Anti-Coalition Militia attempted to outflank the Observation Post and Sergeant Locke without regard for his own personal safety, led a two-man team to locate and successfully neutralise the Anti-Coalition Militia in order to regain the initiative and protect his patrol from being overrun.
This particular incident was followed by another Anti-Coalition Militia attempt to manoeuvre to attack the patrol Observation Post from another flank. Sergeant Locke, again with little regard for his personal safety, adopted a fire position that was exposed on high ground which dominated the planned Anti-Coalition Militia assault. Whilst deliberately exposing himself to intense rifle and machine gun fire from the Anti-Coalition Militia, he again neutralised the lead assaulting elements whilst suppressing other Militia until the arrival of offensive air support. Whilst still under sustained fire, Sergeant Locke then directed indirect fire to effectively neutralise another Anti-Coalition Militia advance on his patrol’s position. The courageous and gallant actions of Sergeant Locke were instrumental in regaining the initiative from the Anti-Coalition Militia and allowing the successful exfiltration of the patrol on foot prior to first light the next day.
Sergeant Locke’s actions of gallantry whilst under enemy fire in extremely hazardous circumstances, displayed courage of the highest order and is in keeping with the finest traditions of Special Operations Command-Australia, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.“
Whilst many people think that these are a Special Air Service wing, because of its shape and similarity to the design of the brass stamped British tropical dress SAS wing. It is in fact a Royal Australian Navy parachutist wing although there is an SAS connection.
It was introduced in 1994 as the Australian Navy ‘Special Duties’ parachutist qualification for the sailors (primarily clearance divers) who had passed the SAS selection and counter terrorist training cycle in order to serve as part of the TAG (Tactical Assault Group) which at that time was part of the Australian Special Air Service Regiment. Within months of its introduction it was decided that there was sufficient water ops capability within SASR and the requirement to include the CD’s as part of the TAG was removed, making the insignia virtually obsolete overnight as no more sailors would be likely to qualify for it.
Sailors who have NOT completed the SAS selection and CT training cycle are awarded the standard RAN parachutist wing upon completion of their para training. This includes the Clearance Divers who now form part of the east coast based TAG-E which is structured around the Sydney based 2 Commando Regiment. Only sailors who have completed the SAS selection and CT training are entitled to wear the SDU parachutist wing.
Collectors should note that no cloth or bullion wings of either of the RAN para wings variations are authorised, nor are they worn. They are fantasy/fake items, made for collectors.