Today in 2020 I have a good handful of friends that I’m still in touch with who are from the SBS.
People tend to think that we were rivals, but in truth we’re one, despite the Army Navy/RM split.
Back in the mid 1970s when I joined the SAS, the SBS were the Special Boat Section. They then made a move to be called the Special Boat Squadron, and before I left the Regiment in the mid 90s, they had already become the Special Boat Service.
Different names…but the very same men.
As a member of an SAS boat troop for almost 20 years of my 23 years military service, I worked with the SBS on many occasions in training and on operations through the 70s, 80s and 90s. Terrific lads and fun to be with despite their different language…”babies heads?”
Falconer and Shepherd, Ramallah, West Bank. 2002 (Yes my T shirt says Old Navy, but if he was wearing one, it would say Oldest Navy!)
The photo was taken back in 2002 with my good friend Duncan Falconer.
We were working as security advisers to the media in conflict zones around the world. At this time we were covering the Second Intifada, the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
A good few years before, we were both in the Falklands War. Team mates of his and an SAS patrol that I was in were in an “O Class” submarine on our way to the Argentinian mainland as part of an extremely small team, to take out Argentina’s Super Etendard jets that were having a huge impact at the time on the Falklands War in 1982. On our way in, the Argentinians on the Falkland Islands surrendered. They obviously got wind that we were coming to Argentina, ha ha. Therefore the operation was called off, and we were immediately pulled back!
Duncan and I have plenty in common. Today we’re both best selling authors. We have both met the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in his compound in Ramallah. We’ve both worked together in the Greater Middle East on Kidnap and Ransom operations (where we both made a fortune kidnapping), as well as looking after the media and others. We were both instrumental along with many of the lads within our two units, in bringing forward anti terrorist tactics and modus operandi back in the day.
Good to see how my mate Duncan’s come on so well with his great and extremely realistic books and films. If anyone has the experience to write them it’s him…well done my friend.
4 thoughts on “OLD SCHOOL SAS AND SBS RELATIONS”
Outstanding as ever Bob
Dave Needham made some good friends back in Papakura. He and Ned Kelly came across the same time and we shared many good sessions together play time included
I have read a number of Duncan’s books as well as your own and enjoyed all thoroughly. I was a 13 year old boy when the events of 5 May 1980 took place and was called in off the street by my Dad to see the events live on TV and as I recall it was a beautiful summers evening – you don’t forget a sunny night when you come from Scotland even 40 years later !!
Brings back some memories to see the photo of you in Ramallah. Although in the infantry (TA) for 9 years I was never deployed however I did have some exciting moments in my civvie career as an accountant, visiting Ramallah on several occasions, the first at Easter in 2004, when I also met with Arafat in his compound.
Was just lucky, but I’ve dined out on that story a few times!
I spent 17 years in the Middle East so I have an affinity with the Arab people in some ways, and have a great deal of sympathy with the plight of Palestinians, without being political in any way. The series Fauda on Netflix which I started watching during lockdown highlights some of the complexities and tragedies of the ongoing Middle East situation. No doubt you got to witness some aspects even more closely than I did.
Currently living and working (from home currently) in Manila I took time to watch the movie 6 Days yesterday, just to pay some kind of homage to the efforts of 22 SAS back in 1980. Hadn’t seen it previously.
Just thought I would leave some comments to say thanks for your blog that I have been following for quite some time now, for the excellent books you have written (and your “shaky boat” mate!) and of course for the service that you and others gave not only on 5th May 1980 but over a lifetime.
Ian, big thanks for your wonderful comments. Great to see that you also got to see the Palestinian leader. In my view, there will never be another like him. Love or loath him, he gave his all for his country folk. Just a shame that the world doesn’t care. Big thanks again, and all the very best through these very strange times. Perhaps one day we’ll get to know what this scenario is really all about.