LISTEN NOW: Joshua Levine

Speaking in our latest podcast, hosted by Harry Bucknall, bestselling author, Joshua Levine, talks about the unsung heroes of the Special Air Service (SAS) during World War Two and his very latest book: “SAS: The Illustrated History of the SAS”.

Joshua tells Harry how his book breaks new ground about SAS history not covered in previous books, including new SAS archive photos and stories about the less famous heroes in the regiment’s early days.

He explains its unorthodox origins during the 1941 desert campaign as a fabricated British parachute regiment, a “fake SAS”, set up by an expert in military deception techniques, Brigadier Dudley Clarke, and later becoming “L” Detachment Special Air Service Brigade under the legendary Col David Stirling and Lt Col Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne. Joshua mentions how Stirling and Mayne were respectively aspiring artists and writer-poets before becoming soldiers.

Joshua also tells amazing stories about early SAS soldiers. Mike Sadler, now 103, was trained as a desert navigator in the Long Range Desert Group and then poached by Stirling. Rev Fraser McLoskey MC served in France as a SAS military chaplain and never carried a gun. Winston Churchill’s son Randolph was briefly involved in a SAS raid on Benghazi and played an important role in exciting his father’s interest about the regiment.

Joshua closes with a fascinating Stirling anecdote about how he once met two undercover SAS soldiers in the desert whom he initially thought were the enemy.


Author, historian and broadcaster, Joshua Levine, has published several books on military history and the two world wars, including “Forgotten Voices of The Somme”, “The Secret History of the Blitz” and “Dunkirk”, which was made into a popular movie in 2017 directed by Christopher Nolan. Joshua was the official historian for the movie. “SAS: The Illustrated History of the SAS” will be available in hardcover in May 2023.


Hosted by Harry Bucknall and featuring leading figures from across the British Army and beyond, our monthly General Talk podcast examines the changing role of the military in the modern world.

To listen to other episodes in our General Talk podcast series, please visit our page.


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