Who was SAS hero Paddy Mayne?
Robert Blair Mayne, known as Paddy, was a tough rugby player who played for Ireland and the British Lions before the war. Most of all, though, he was a key figure in the formation and early successes of the world-renowned SAS.
He was renowned for his explosive temper, a strong thirst for drink and an equal capacity for raw violence.
During the 1938 Lions tour it is said Mayne relaxed between matches by “wrecking hotels and fighting dockers”.
While stationed in Cyprus with a commando unit in 1941 he got into trouble for beating up a fellow officer after a heavy drinking session.
After that Mayne was recommended to join Stirling’s irregular force, and pioneered the use of Jeeps for hit-and-run raids on German airfields.
He is said to have personally destroyed up to 100 planes – many more than any fighter pilot on either side of the war.
And it was he who was chosen to take over the SAS when Stirling was captured in 1943.
In the latter stages of the war he led the SAS in successful beehind-enemy-lines campaigns in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Norway.
Mayne was one of the most decorated servicemen in British history, winning the DSO four times. A campaign to award him the Victoria Cross reached Parliament in 2006.
After the war he worked as a solicitor in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. He was killed in a car crash with a tractor after a drinking session in 1955.