Global interest for SAS book
Sam Marsden

A monumental book on the origins of the SAS, which weighs more than 28lb and costs up to 2,500, has attracted orders from ex-special forces personnel around the world.

The 600-page SAS War Diary 1941-45 collects rare and previously secret documents detailing how the regiment was born out of fighting against Italian and German forces in the deserts of North Africa during the Second World War.

Publisher Martin Morgan said there had been "astounding" interest in the limited edition book since it went on sale in September.

Orders have come in from oil rigs, from a ship's captain calling via a satellite phone from the middle of the Pacific and from the heart of the desert in Sierra Leone.

Copies have been bought by many former members of the SAS and Special Boat Service, as well as ex-special forces troops in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Sandhurst, the British Army's officer training establishment, has also ordered the book. Mr Morgan said even a `A32,500 special edition signed by Sergeant Jimmy Storie, the last surviving veteran who took part in the SAS's first operation, was "rapidly selling out". "We have been quite overwhelmed with messages of support," he said.

An unnamed former SAS soldier began the diary to preserve records and photographs of the special forces regiment's incredible exploits during the Second World War after it was disbanded in 1945 at the end of hostilities. Its existence remained a secret even within the SAS for 50 years but it has now been expanded and published for the first time to mark the 70th anniversary of the regiment.

Most proceeds from sales of the book are going to the SAS Regimental Association's welfare fund.

The Independent