Mayne, Robert Blair "Paddy"
- Date of birth:
- January 11th, 1915 (Newtownards/Northern-Ireland, Great Britain)
- Date of death:
- December 14th, 1955 (Newtownards/Northern-Ireland, Great Britain)
- Service number:
- British (1801-present, Kingdom)
Robert Blair Mayne was born at the family home, Mountpleasant on the 11th January 1915 in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. He was the second youngest child in a family of seven, four boys and three girls.
He went to The Ards Academy and Regent House and The Queens University in Belfast where he was studying law. He was a very talanted rugby player and also took part 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 showed his great talent.He gained six international caps for his country Ireland and he was selected to play in South Africa as a member of The British Lions Touring Party of 1938.
The Officer Training Corps at Queens University had been his first contact with military life, training and discipline, but they did not see his true potential. Thereafter he joined his local unit in Newtownards, The 5th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery SR (Supplementary Reserve). But Blair Mayne was looking for action and soon transferred to various other units, The Royal Ulster Rifles and The Cameronians before seeing his first action with The 11th (Scottish) Commando. This was at the Litani river in Syria as part of Layforce. David Stirling founder of the SAS next recruited him and he became one of the founder members of The Special Air Service. This small unit went from strength to strength and Blair Mayne played a very large part in it's success being personally credited with the destruction of over 100 German and Italian aeroplanes.
Sometimes Mayne and his men would carry out up to 16 raids per week. Shortly after David Stirling was betrayed by the Arabs and captured by The Germans, Mayne assumed command of the 1st SAS which was then to be known as The Special Raiding Squadron. Under his sole leadership they fought some very hard and dangerous battles on the island of Sicily and also mainland Italy, Capo Murro Di Porco, Syracuse, Augusta, Bagnara and Termoli. Paddy Mayne led his men from the front and was constantly found in the very thick of the fighting. With their tasks completed the SAS was recalled to the UK and a new base in Darvel, Ayrshire. In preparation for even harder operations it was greatly expanded with the addition of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Regiments.
The many operations undertaken in France were again of a totally different nature as they had to train and work with the Maquis as well as carry out their own tasks of gathering intelligence, sabotage and destruction. Many strong bonds were formed with the Maquisards, especially the Maquis Bernard in the Morvan region. As the 1st SAS Regiment led The Canadian 4th Armoured Division and fought it's way into the German heartland the fighting became very savage, but as always Blair Mayne was in the vanguard and leading his men by example.
By the end of the war, the SAS in Europe had killed or captured 12517 enemy, destroyed 7 trains, cut 122 railways, destroyed 700 vehicles all for 161 casualties out of 2500 men.
With the ending of the WW2 Blair Mayne returned to the family home of Mountpleasant. His numerous battles and exploits had resulted in some serious spinal injuries. The damage had most likely occurred during the constant strain of his many dangerous actions. Also his low level parachute drops behind enemy lines had surely placed severe physical pressure onto his large frame. Sadly that meant that he could not resume his successful sporting career on the rugby field. Despite the increasing pain he was soon looking for a more demanding role and so he decided to become a member of an expedition that was being sent to the Antarctic known as the Falkland Islands Dependency Survey. But before long his injuries worsened and so once again he was forced to return home to Northern Ireland where he received some much needed medical treatment to his spine. His next post was very different and saw him become the secretary to The Law Society of Ireland. He continued with his many public duties and when possible attended SAS Regimental reunions, where he was greeted with great affection by his old comrades. To his great relief his duties with the Law Society meant that he travelled extensively throughout Ireland, Scotland and mainland U.K. Sadly, early on a December morning in 1955 and at age of 40 he died in a car accident when his Riley car glanced of an unlighted parked lorry before colliding with an electricity pole on The Scrabo Road in Newtownards. The seemingly indestructible Col. Paddy died instantly. He was just a few hundred yards from the safety of his home.
Shortly after a bronze statue of Blair Mayne was erected in Newtownards town square and a decision was made that the Blair Mayne Association was to be established. The main aims would be to remember his outstanding exploits, deeds and courage. It was also paramount to ensure that his great name would never be forgotten, or misused.
Three books have been written about Mayne, the first being "Colonel Paddy" by Patrick Marrinan (1960). "Rogue Warrior of the SAS: the Blair Mayne legend" was written by Roy Bradford and Martin Dillon (1989) features a foreword by David Stirling. "Paddy Mayne" by Hamish Ross (2004) is the only biography endorsed by the Mayne family. Another book, "SAS: The History of the Special Raiding Squadron: Paddy's Men" by Stewart McClean was published in early 2006.
"Stirling's Men: the inside history of the SAS in World War Two" by Gavin Mortimer [Cassell, 2004], also features extensive accounts, both of Mayne's exploits and of his character, by many soldiers who served with him in the SAS.
27th February, 1939: commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant
2st December, 1942: Captain (war sub)
21st December, 1942: Major (temporary)
7th April 1944: Major (war sub)
7th April 1944-April 1946: Lieutenant-Colonel (temporary)
Do you have more information about this person? Inform us!
- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Special Air Service (SAS), Army Air Corps, British Army
- Awarded on:
- February 24th, 1942
"At Sirte on 12/13 December this officer was instrumental in leading and succeeded in destroying with a small party of men, many aeroplanes, a bomb dump and a petrol dump. He led this raid in person and himself destroyed and killed many of the enemy. The task set was of the most hazardous nature, and it was due to this officer's courage and leadership that success was achieved. I cannot speak too highly of this officer's skill and devotion to duty."
"Operation "Husky", Sicily, On July 10th 1943 & 12th July 1943, Major R.B.Mayne carried out two successful operations. The first, capture and destruction of coastal defence battery on Capo Murro Di Porco, the outcome of which was vital to the safe landing of XIII Corps. By nightfall 10/7/43, Special Raiding Squadron had captured three additional Btys, 450 prisoners as well as killing 200 to 300 Italians The second, the capture and holding of the town of Augusta. The landing was carried out in daylight, a most hazardous combined operation. By the audacity displayed the Italians were forced from their positions in masses and most valuable stores and equipment was saved from certain destruction. In both these operations it was Major Mayne's courage, determination and surperb leadership which proved the key to success. He personally led his men from the landing craft in the face of heavy machine gun fire and in the case of the Augusta raid, mortar fire. By these actions he succeeded in forcing his way to ground where it was possible to form up and sum up the enemy's defences."
Second DSO awarded as a bar for on the ribbon of the first DSO.
"Lt.Col. R.B.Mayne DSO has commanded 1st SAS Regt throughout the period of operations in France. On 7th August 44 he was dropped to the "HOUNDSWORTH" base located west of Dijon in order to co-ordinate and take charge of all available detachments of his Regiment and co-ordinate their action with a major airborne landing which was then envisaged near Paris. He then proceeded in a jeep in daylight to motor to the "GAIN" base near Paris making the complete journey in one day. On the approach of Allied forces he passed through the lines in his jeep to contact the American forces and lead back through the lines his detachment of 20 jeeps landed for operation "WALLACE". During the next few weeks he successfully penetrated the German and American lines in a jeep on four occasions in order to to lead parties of reinforcements.
It was entirely due to Lt.Col. Mayne's fine leadership and example, and due to his utter disregard of danger that the unit was able to achieve such striking success."
Third DSO awarded as secon bar for on the ribbon of the first DSO.
"On Monday April 9th 1945, Lt.Col. R.B.Mayne was ordered by the GOC 4th Canadian Armoured Division to lead his Regiment (then consisting of two armoured jeep squadrons) through the British lines and infiltrate through the German lines. His general axis of advance was N/East towards the city of Oldenburg, with the special task of clearing a path for the Canadian armoured cars and tanks, and also causing alarm and disorganisation behind the enemy lines. As subsequent events proved the task of Lt.Col. Mayne's force was entirely and completely successful. This success however was solely due to the brilliant military leadership and cool calculating courage of Lt.Col.Mayne who, by a single act of supreme bravery drove the enemy from a strongly held key village thereby breaking the crust of the enemy defences in the whole of this sector.
The following is a detailed account of the Lt.Col's individual action which called for both unsurpassed heroism and cool clear sighted military knowledge.
Lt.Col.Mayne on receiving a wireless message from the leading squadron reporting that it was heavily engaged by enemy fire and that the squadron commander had been killed immediately drove forward to the scene of the action. From the time of his arrival until the end of the action Lt.Col. Mayne was in full view of the enemy and exposed to fire from small arms, machine guns, sniper rifles and Panzerfausts. On arrival he summed up the situation in a matter of seconds and entered the nearest house alone and ensured the enemy here had either withdrawn or been killed. He then siezed a Bren gun and magazines and single handly fired burst after burst into a second house, killing or wounding the enemy there and also opened fire on the woods. He then ordered a jeep to come forward and take over his fire position before returning to the forward position where he disposed the men to the best advantage and ordered another jeep to come forward. He got into the jeep and with another officer as rear gunner drove forward past the position where the Squadron Commander had been killed a few minutes previously and continued to point a hundred yards ahead where a further section of jeeps were halted by intense and accurate enemy fire. This section had suffered casualties and wounded owing to the heavy enemy fire and the survivors were unable at that time to influence the action in any way until the arrival of Lt.Col.Mayne. The Lt.Col. continued along the road all the time engaging the enemy with fire from his own jeep. Having swept the whole area with close range fire he turned his jeep around and drove down the road again, still in full view of the enemy. By this time the enemy had suffered heavy casualties and had started to withdraw. Never the less they maintained intense fire on the road and it appearded almost impossible to extricate the wounded who were in a ditch near to the forward jeeps. Any attempt of rescuing these men under those conditions appeared virtually suicidal owing to the highly concentrated and accurate fire of the enemy. Though he fully realised the risk he was taking Lt.Col.Mayne turned his jeep round once more and returned to try and rescue these wounded. Then by superlative determination and displaying gallantry of the very highest degree and in the face of intense enemy machine gun fire he lifted the wounded one by one into the jeep, turned round and drove back to the main body. The entire enemy positions had been wiped out, the majority of the enemy having been killed or wounded leaving a very small percentage who were now in full retreat. The Squadron having suffered no further casualties were able to continue their advance and drive deeper behind the enemy to complete their task of sabotage and destruction of the enemy. Finally they reached a point 20 miles ahead of the advance guard of the advancing Canadian Division thus threatening the rear of the Germans who finally withdrew. From the time of the arrival of Lt.Col.Mayne his gallantry inspired all ranks. Not only did he save the lives of the wounded but he also completly defeated and destroyed the enemy."
In fact, Mayne was recommended for a VC for this actions. 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. Even King George VI was to express surprise at the omission. Mayne replied: “I served to my best my Lord, my King and Queen and no one can take that honour away from me.”
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 recognises 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 motion was denied bij the British Government.