Their first successful raid soon followed on
17th November 1941, when two groups destroyed 61 aircraft at two airfields.
Another raid was launched soon after; this time twenty seven were destroyed. By
July 1942 the regiment had 15 specially modified jeeps in action in North
The Jeeps were stripped of all non-essential
parts including the windscreen, most of the radiator grille bars and even
sometimes the front bumper to increase the effective load carrying capacity of
the vehicle. Thus the large amount of fuel and water needed for fast long-range
raids could be carried avoiding the need for slower support vehicles. A water
condensing unit was fitted to the front to reduce loss from the radiator which
would otherwise have had to be topped up from the limited drinking water
supplies. The jeeps also carried sand mats, metal wheel channels, radio
equipment and large quantities of ammunition.
The Jeeps were heavily armed with combinations
of both Browning and Vickers K machine guns. The ex-aircraft Vickers weapons
were generally mounted in pairs and a total of up to five machine guns were
carried on some vehicles. The effectiveness of this armament firing a mix of
ball, armour-piercing and tracer shells can be judged from one assault on an
airfield where 12 aircraft were destroyed in a five minute raid. With all guns
blazing a single SAS jeep could deliver an impressive 5000 rounds per minute!
The net result was that over 400 aircraft had been destroyed on the ground by
November 1942. Stirling was finally captured in 1943 but escaped four times
before being sent to Colditz where he spent the rest of the war.
As the front moved from Africa to Italy and
then on into Northwest Europe so did the SAS. The scale of each action varied
tremendously. In one operation (codenamed Houndsmith), 144 men were parachuted
with jeeps and supplies into an area close to Dijon, France. In another four men
in two jeeps killed or wounded 60
men destroying two staff cars and a truck in the process at the village of Les
By late 1944 the SAS were operating behind
German lines in Europe. Further modifications to the jeeps included the use of
armor plate with bullet-proof glass screen at the front and a wire cutter fitted
to the front bumper of some vehicles.
The device referred to here was due to the fact that some German units strung
wire across roads at head level in order to decapitate soldiers riding in
vehicles, thus the device's name, the Anti-decapitation device.
A somewhat little-known factoid
from WWII is that the Civil Air Patrol; formed just a few days before Pearl
Harbor, is credited with sinking 2 U-boats off the US coast during the war. In
honor of that achievement, here a pic of a ex-CAP Jeep from the era just after
the war. And as with most things in life, if you have something good, everybody
wants one, too. And here's an example of that, a US Navy Jeep. As far as I have
been able to discern, there's not a lot of difference between a Navy Jeep and
one used by the Army except for the color, but I thought that it was interesting
enough to post this pic of one.
And since I am an Amateur Radio
enthusiast, a Comm Jeep seems like a good idea to talk about. The one pictured
to the left is one I found particularly interesting, especially in this age of
incredibly small electronics. the radio equipment in the Jeep takes up nearly
all of the available interior space, leaving just enough room for the driver and
radio operator. This is particularly amazing since the 2-meter rig in my
personal Jeep is the size of a paperback book.
And in my research, I've
discovered that possibly another manufacturer had constructed a prototype. On
Brian's Military Jeep website
is a photo of something built
by, of all companies, Chevrolet! There's no mention of when it was constructed,
only a reference to 2 vehicles, so I'm going to go ahead and post this for you
to see, but I can't speak for how factual this is.