Post-War SAS Regiment Operations


The SAS Regiment carried out or supported a number of operations after the end of the Second World War, mostly abroad. Some of the most notable (known) post-war SAS Regiment operations include:

Operation Helsby, Malayan Emergency (1948 – 1960). The newly raised SAS Regiment was initially trained to fight in the Korean War but it was later decided to sent the unit to Malaya to help the Commonwealth armed forces against the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA) headed by the Malayan Communist Party. In 1951, the SAS Regiment fighting in Malaya or the B Squadron (also called the Malayan Scouts) took part in the Operation Helsby, an offensive in the River Perak-Belum valley and carried out the first parachute drop. One year later, the B Squadron was renamed as the 22nd SAS Regiment and included to the list of the Regular Army. It remains the only UK Regular Army SAS regiment. The remaining two – the 21st and 22nd SAS regiments are reserve Territorial Army units.

Operation Claret, Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation (1962 – 1966). In 1964, the SAS Regiment was sent to support the Operation Claret, a series of operations against Indonesia which took place from July 1964 to July 1966. The SAS Regiment soldiers and the selected soldiers from the infantry would cross the border in Borneo to force the Indonesian forces to retreat from the border with Malaya. 59 men were killed and 123 were wounded by the end of the campaign.

Operation Fire Magic, Lufthansa Flight 181 (1977). The SAS Regiment operators were officially only observers in the Operation Fire Magic. Its objective was to rescue hostages from the hijacked Lufthansa Boeing 737-230 Adv held by four members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The GSG 9 (German counter-terrorism and special operations unit) supported by the Somali army (and perhaps also the SAS Regiment) stormed the hijacked plane after it landed in Mogadishu, Somalia and rescued all 86 passengers. The captain, however, was killed along three of four hijackers.

Operation Nimrod, Iranian Embassy Siege (1980). 30 to 35 members of the SAS Regiment with support of the Metropolitan Police officers rescued 24 of 26 people who were kept hostage by six gunmen from the Democratic Revolutionary Front for Liberation of Arabistan (DRFLA) in the Iranian Embassy in London from 30 April to 5 May 1980. One hostage was killed during the action of the SAS Regiment, while one was killed earlier.

Other operations. The SAS Regiment also participated in the Operation Keyhole on South Georgia Island in 1982, Pebble Island Raid in the Falklands in 1982, Operation Flavius in Gibraltar against the IRA in 1988, Operation Granby in Iraq in 1991, Operation Barras in Sierra Leone in 2000, three operations in Afghanistan – Trent (2001), Condor (2002) and Moshtarak (2010), and Operation Marlborough in Iraq in 2005. It is also suggested that the SAS Regiment was in Libya during the 2011 NATO military intervention but so far, it remains unknown if they were really there and what was their mission.