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 Lt Col Blair "Paddy" Mayne

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PostSubject: Lt Col Blair "Paddy" Mayne   5th February 2008, 12:26 am


Early Life

Robert Blair Mayne was born at the family home, Mount pleasant on the 11th January 1915 in the small town of Newtownards, Northern Ireland. He was the second youngest child in a family of seven, four boys and three girls and was named after his Mothers cousin, Robert Blair.
Perhaps there was an element of fate in that particular choice of name as Robert Blair was then a Captain serving with the Border Regiment. He too proved to be a brave soldier as he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1915 for rescuing some men while they were trapped under heavy German fire. Sadly he was killed while in the trenches by a single shot, possibly a snipers bullet on the 16th July 1916. Education for the young Blair took place at three schools, Miss Brown's kindergarten, The Ards Academy and Regent House. It was while at Regent House that his prowess and skill at the game of rugby started to develop and even though he was only sixteen he was also playing for his local club side Ards RFC. His education continued at The Queens University in Belfast. where he was studying for his chosen profession of law. He continued playing rugby and also took part in the sport of boxing at which he went on to become the Irish universities heavyweight champion. But it was rugby that was really his main passion and he gained many representative honors for his province, Ulster and six international caps for his country Ireland. Perhaps his greatest sporting honor was to be selected to play in South Africa as a member of The British Lions Touring Party of 1938. The one word used over and over again by the press and media of the time to describe his performances on the field was outstanding. His playing career was cut short by the outbreak of the world war in 1939 and this, plus the injuries he suffered, surely robbed him of many more sporting honors, and also his country of a superb player.
The Officer Training Corps at Queens had been his first contact with the military but sadly they did not see his potential and quite foolishly made derogotery remarks regarding his soldiering qualities, they like so many other people would be proven very wrong.


The War Years.

After initially serving with The Queen's University Officer Training Corps who said he would never be officer material Mayne joined the 5th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery Supplementary Reserve. Blair transferred to various other units, The Royal Ulster Rifles and The Cameroonian’s before seeing his first action with The 11th Scottish Commando as part of the Layforce where he was mentioned in dispatches. After the brutal and confused action at the Litani river, in which 130 officers and men, around a third of the strike force, were wounded or killed, that Mayne reacted violently against what he believed was the ineptitude of his Commanding Officer, whom he considered inexperienced, arrogant and insincere. Some sources state that Mayne struck him, and was awaiting court-martial and almost certain dismissal. However, his leadership on the raid had attracted the attention of Captain David Stirling who recruited him as one of the founder members of the Special Air Service. Mayne participated in many night raids deep behind enemy lines in the deserts of Egypt and Libya, where the SAS fought and created havoc by destroying hundreds of German and Italian aircraft on the ground.
After Stirling was captured 1st SAS Regiment was reorganized into two separate parts, the Special Raiding Squadron and the Special Boat Squadron the forerunner of the Special Boat Service. As a Major, Mayne was appointed to command the Special Raiding Squadron and led the unit with distinction in Italy until the end of 1943. In January 1944 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and appointed commanding officer of 1st SAS Regiment. He subsequently led the SAS with great distinction through the final campaigns of the war in France, Holland, Belgium, Germany and Norway, often campaigning alongside local resistance fighters including the French Maquis. As the SAS fought it's way into Germany the fighting became even harder, but again Blair Mayne led by example. The Regiment lost many men during the European campaigns and not always in battle as the Germans executed many of the men they captured. The men were only too aware of this fact but it did not deter them from their tasks. Everyone a hero in his own right.
Lt Col Blare (Paddy) Mayne became one of the British Army's most heavily decorated soldiers and received the Distinguished Service Order with three bars, one of only seven British servicemen to receive that award four times during World War II. Mayne pioneered the use of military Jeeps to conduct surprise hit-and-run raids, particularly on enemy airfields. By the end of the war it was claimed that he had personally destroyed 130 aircraft.
In recognition of his leadership and personal disregard for danger while in France, in which he trained and worked closely with the French Resistance, Mayne received the second bar to his DSO. Additionally, the post-war French Government awarded him the Legion d'honneur and the Croix de Guerre, the first foreigner to receive such a dual honour.
It has often been questioned why Mayne was not awarded a Victoria Cross, and even King George VI was to express surprise at the omission. The answer almost certainly lies in Mayne's abrasive attitude to some of his superiors, combined with the Army hierarchy's askance view of the unconventional attitudes and tactics of the special forces.
In the Spring of 1945 Mayne was recommended for a VC after single-handedly rescuing a squadron of his troops, trapped by heavy gunfire near the town of Oldenberg in north-west Germany. After the squadron became pinned down and sustained casualties, Mayne rescued the wounded, lifting them one by one into his Jeep before destroying the enemy gunners in a nearby farmhouse. However, although the VC recommendation was signed by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, commander of the Allied 21st Army Group, Mayne instead received a fourth DSO.

After the War

After he had returned home from his war time duties the injuries received during many parachute drops and hard fought battles meant that Mayne could not resume his successful sporting career. He became a member of an expedition to the Falkland Islands in the Antarctic before injuries once again forced him to return to Northern Ireland. His next post saw him become the secretary to The Law Society of Ireland. He continued with many public duties and remained a firm supporter of all his former sporting clubs. He traveled extensively throughout Ireland, Scotland and mainland U.K.
Sadly at the young age of 40 he met his death in a car crash on The Scrabo Road in Newtownards, he was just a few hundred yards from his home on December 1955.

Note:
Major General Sir Robert Laycock, The Post War Chief of Combined Operations,
wrote :
"I feel I must drop you a line just to tell you how very deeply I appreciate the great honor of being able to address, as my friend, an officer who has succeeded in accomplishing the practically unprecedented task of collecting no less than four DSO's. (I am informed that there is another such superman in the Royal Air Force.)
You deserve all the more, and in my opinion, the appropriate authorities do not really know their job. If they did they would have given you a VC as well. Please do not dream of answering this letter, which brings with it my sincerest admiration and a deep sense of honor in having, at one time, been associated with you".

An Early Day Motion put before the House of Commons in June 2005 and supported by more than 100 MPs also stated that:

This House recognizes the grave injustice meted out to Lt Col Paddy Mayne, of 1st SAS, who won the Victoria Cross at Oldenburg in North West Germany on 9th April 1945; notes that this was subsequently downgraded, some six months later, to a third bar DSO, that the citation had been clearly altered and that David Stirling, founder of the SAS has confirmed that there was considerable prejudice towards Mayne and that King George VI enquired why the Victoria Cross had `so strangely eluded him'; further notes that on 14th December it will be 50 years since Col Mayne's untimely death, in a car accident, and this will be followed on 29th January 2006 by the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Royal Warrant to institute the Victoria Cross; and therefore calls upon the Government to mark these anniversaries by instructing the appropriate authorities to act without delay to reinstate the Victoria Cross given for exceptional personal courage and leadership of the highest order and to acknowledge that Mayne's actions on that day saved the lives of many men and greatly helped the allied advance on Berlin.


The Young Mayne

Robert Blair Mayne was born at the family home, Mount pleasant on the 11th January 1915 in the small town of Newtownards, Northern Ireland. He was the second youngest child in a family of seven, four boys and three girls and was named after his Mothers cousin, Robert Blair.
Perhaps there was an element of fate in that particular choice of name as Robert Blair was then a Captain serving with the Border Regiment. He too proved to be a brave soldier as he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1915 for rescuing some men while they were trapped under heavy German fire. Sadly he was killed while in the trenches by a single shot, possibly a snipers bullet on the 16th July 1916. Education for the young Blair took place at three schools, Miss Brown's kindergarten, The Ards Academy and Regent House. It was while at Regent House that his prowess and skill at the game of rugby started to develop and even though he was only sixteen he was also playing for his local club side Ards RFC. His education continued at The Queens University in Belfast. where he was studying for his chosen profession of law. He continued playing rugby and also took part in the sport of boxing at which he went on to become the Irish universities heavyweight champion. But it was rugby that was really his main passion and he gained many representative honors for his province, Ulster and six international caps for his country Ireland. Perhaps his greatest sporting honor was to be selected to play in South Africa as a member of The British Lions Touring Party of 1938. The one word used over and over again by the press and media of the time to describe his performances on the field was outstanding. His playing career was cut short by the outbreak of the world war in 1939 and this, plus the injuries he suffered, surely robbed him of many more sporting honors, and also his country of a superb player.
The Officer Training Corps at Queens had been his first contact with the military but sadly they did not see his potential and quite foolishly made derogotery remarks regarding his soldiering qualities, they like so many other people would be proven very wrong.


The War years.

After initially serving with The Queen's University Officer Training Corps who said he would never be officer material Mayne joined the 5th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery Supplementary Reserve. Blair transferred to various other units, The Royal Ulster Rifles and The Cameroonian’s before seeing his first action with The 11th Scottish Commando as part of the Layforce where he was mentioned in dispatches. After the brutal and confused action at the Litani river, in which 130 officers and men, around a third of the strike force, were wounded or killed, that Mayne reacted violently against what he believed was the ineptitude of his Commanding Officer, whom he considered inexperienced, arrogant and insincere. Some sources state that Mayne struck him, and was awaiting court-martial and almost certain dismissal. However, his leadership on the raid had attracted the attention of Captain David Stirling who recruited him as one of the founder members of the Special Air Service. Mayne participated in many night raids deep behind enemy lines in the deserts of Egypt and Libya, where the SAS fought and created havoc by destroying hundreds of German and Italian aircraft on the ground.
After Stirling was captured 1st SAS Regiment was reorganized into two separate parts, the Special Raiding Squadron and the Special Boat Squadron the forerunner of the Special Boat Service. As a Major, Mayne was appointed to command the Special Raiding Squadron and led the unit with distinction in Italy until the end of 1943. In January 1944 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and appointed commanding officer of 1st SAS Regiment. He subsequently led the SAS with great distinction through the final campaigns of the war in France, Holland, Belgium, Germany and Norway, often campaigning alongside local resistance fighters including the French Maquis. As the SAS fought it's way into Germany the fighting became even harder, but again Blair Mayne led by example. The Regiment lost many men during the European campaigns and not always in battle as the Germans executed many of the men they captured. The men were only too aware of this fact but it did not deter them from their tasks. Everyone a hero in his own right.
Lt Col Blare (Paddy) Mayne became one of the British Army's most heavily decorated soldiers and received the Distinguished Service Order with three bars, one of only seven British servicemen to receive that award four times during World War II. Mayne pioneered the use of military Jeeps to conduct surprise hit-and-run raids, particularly on enemy airfields. By the end of the war it was claimed that he had personally destroyed 130 aircraft.
In recognition of his leadership and personal disregard for danger while in France, in which he trained and worked closely with the French Resistance, Mayne received the second bar to his DSO. Additionally, the post-war French Government awarded him the Legion d'honneur and the Croix de Guerre, the first foreigner to receive such a dual honour.
It has often been questioned why Mayne was not awarded a Victoria Cross, and even King George VI was to express surprise at the omission. The answer almost certainly lies in Mayne's abrasive attitude to some of his superiors, combined with the Army hierarchy's askance view of the unconventional attitudes and tactics of the special forces.
In the Spring of 1945 Mayne was recommended for a VC after single-handedly rescuing a squadron of his troops, trapped by heavy gunfire near the town of Oldenberg in north-west Germany. After the squadron became pinned down and sustained casualties, Mayne rescued the wounded, lifting them one by one into his Jeep before destroying the enemy gunners in a nearby farmhouse. However, although the VC recommendation was signed by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, commander of the Allied 21st Army Group, Mayne instead received a fourth DSO.

After the War

After he had returned home from his war time duties the injuries received during many parachute drops and hard fought battles meant that Mayne could not resume his successful sporting career. He became a member of an expedition to the Falkland Islands in the Antarctic before injuries once again forced him to return to Northern Ireland. His next post saw him become the secretary to The Law Society of Ireland. He continued with many public duties and remained a firm supporter of all his former sporting clubs. He traveled extensively throughout Ireland, Scotland and mainland U.K.
Sadly at the young age of 40 he met his death in a car crash on The Scrabo Road in Newtownards, he was just a few hundred yards from his home on December 1955.

Note:
Major General Sir Robert Laycock, The Post War Chief of Combined Operations,
wrote :
"I feel I must drop you a line just to tell you how very deeply I appreciate the great honor of being able to address, as my friend, an officer who has succeeded in accomplishing the practically unprecedented task of collecting no less than four DSO's. (I am informed that there is another such superman in the Royal Air Force.)
You deserve all the more, and in my opinion, the appropriate authorities do not really know their job. If they did they would have given you a VC as well. Please do not dream of answering this letter, which brings with it my sincerest admiration and a deep sense of honor in having, at one time, been associated with you".

An Early Day Motion put before the House of Commons in June 2005 and supported by more than 100 MPs also stated that:

This House recognizes the grave injustice meted out to Lt Col Paddy Mayne, of 1st SAS, who won the Victoria Cross at Oldenburg in North West Germany on 9th April 1945; notes that this was subsequently downgraded, some six months later, to a third bar DSO, that the citation had been clearly altered and that David Stirling, founder of the SAS has confirmed that there was considerable prejudice towards Mayne and that King George VI enquired why the Victoria Cross had `so strangely eluded him'; further notes that on 14th December it will be 50 years since Col Mayne's untimely death, in a car accident, and this will be followed on 29th January 2006 by the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Royal Warrant to institute the Victoria Cross; and therefore calls upon the Government to mark these anniversaries by instructing the appropriate authorities to act without delay to reinstate the Victoria Cross given for exceptional personal courage and leadership of the highest order and to acknowledge that Mayne's actions on that day saved the lives of many men and greatly helped the allied advance o
n Berlin.
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