Sas: Rogue Heroes – The Paddy Mayne Controversy in Real Life.!

This page contains SPOILERS for the video game SAS: Rogue Heroes.

You can now watch the historical drama SAS: Rogue Heroes, which tells the amazing true tale of how the renowned Special Air Service came to be, on BBC iPlayer. The best-selling book of the same name by historian Ben Macintyre serves as the inspiration for the six-part series, which was written by Peaky Blinders author Steven Knight.

Watch to learn more about Paddy Mayne, a rogue hero whose past is still clouded in controversy, who served as one of the SAS’s original members and is portrayed by Skins star Jack O Connell.

Sas: Rogue Heroes - The Paddy Mayne Controversy in Real Life.!

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Why? There is a current ongoing effort for the Victoria Cross to be awarded posthumously because some people believe he was the bravest soldier in history who was never given the award. The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration for valour.

Robert Blair Paddy Mayne entered the Second World War with many outstanding abilities for a soldier, as well as a reputation for having a boisterous attitude. He was a boxer, a star in Northern Ireland rugby, and supposedly an excellent shot.

He proved to be a valuable asset to the newly established SAS, inventing the use of military jeeps to carry out surprise hit-and-run raids to destroy enemy aircraft and fuel depots, and directing several successful missions, some of which we’ll see in SAS: Rogue Heroes.

One of just seven British personnel to receive this honor four times during World War Two, these earned him the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) with three bars (each of which is added to the original DSO).

Some claim that Mayne personally destroyed 100 aircraft, and he is said to have shot down more German aircraft during World War II than the RAF’s top ace.

Mayne was nominated for the Victoria Cross after a particularly dangerous mission in Germany in 1945, during which he drove a vehicle with all of its weapons blazing in plain sight of the enemy to rescue two wounded friends, opening a route for a Canadian division to advance. Witness testimony, including one from Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, who praised his outstanding military leadership and cool, calculated courage, backed up his suggestion.

Jack O’Connell as Paddy Mayne (center) with Jock Lewes (played by Alfie Allen) and David Stirling (played by Connor Swindells)

Sas: Rogue Heroes - The Paddy Mayne Controversy in Real Life.!

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However, his Victoria Cross was demoted to his fourth DSO six months later. This decision is the subject of ongoing wartime controversy, but it is unknown who made it or why.

Some claim Mayne’s reputation as a troublemaker is to blame (especially after drinking). He is undoubtedly introduced in SAS: Rogue Heroes by escaping from a jail in Cairo by viciously dispatching not one, but three troops.

Even the founder of the SAS, David Stirling (portrayed in the drama by Connor Swindells), is claimed to have felt that Mayne occasionally overstepped the mark, particularly when he is said to have shot up to 30 unarmed men in the Libyan desert in 1941. Others contend that downgrading VCs was a common procedure and that Mayne was not the only person to experience this treatment.

Over 100 MPs signed an Early Day Motion in 2005 that argued that Mayne should have received the Victoria Cross but was not given one. This EDM even quoted King George IV, who asked why the medal had so oddly eluded him, confirming David Stirling’s belief that there was significant bias against Mayne.

The fight to reinstate the Victoria Cross has gone on ever since the government disregarded the EDM’s request, and it is presently being led by the Blair Paddy Mayne Twitter account, which has gained a lot of attention in the lead-up to the release of the SAS: Rogue Heroes.

Sas: Rogue Heroes - The Paddy Mayne Controversy in Real Life.!

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They fight to preserve Paddy’s legacy and are adamant that the muscle-for-hire stereotype that many people have of him isn’t accurate. The fact that he brought a poetry book called Other Men’s Flowers into battle, for instance, is shown in SAS: Rogue Heroes, where Mayne can be seen reciting poetry while imprisoned in the first episode.

They also describe how Paddy gave up his leave to go and look for his best buddy Eoin McGonigal’s grave, placing himself in great danger, and wrote a moving letter of sorrow to Eoin’s mother after Eoin was killed in action (played by Donal Finn in SAS: Rogue Heroes).

Whether or not you think Paddy should have gotten the Victoria Cross, it is apparent that his narrative goes beyond what we see in SAS: Rogue Heroes and Paddy Mayne’s is a life that is well worth commemorating like so many combat heroes.