David Stirling

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World War II

Colonel Sir Archibald David Stirling, DSO, OBE[1] (15 November 1915 – 4 November 1990) was a Scottish laird, mountaineer, World War II British Army officer, and the founder of the Special Air Service.


Life before the war

Stirling was born at his family's ancestral home, Keir House in the parish of Lecropt in Perthshire (near Stirling). He was the son of Brigadier General Archibald Stirling, of Keir and Margaret Fraser, daughter of Simon Fraser, the Lord Lovat, (a descendant of Charles II, King of Scots). His cousin was Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat, and his grandparents were Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, 9th Baronet and Lady Anna Maria Leslie-Melville. He was educated at Ampleforth College and Trinity College, Cambridge. A tall and athletic figure (he was 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) tall), he was training to climb Mount Everest when World War II broke out.

World War II and the founding of the SAS

Stirling was commissioned into the Scots Guards from Ampleforth College Contingent Officer Training Corps on 24 July 1937.[2] In June 1940 he volunteered for the new No. 8 Commando under Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Laycock which became part of Force Z (later named "Layforce"). After Layforce (and No.8 Commando) were disbanded on 1 August 1941, Stirling remained convinced that due to the mechanised nature of war a small team of highly trained soldiers with the advantage of surprise could exact greater damage to the enemy's ability to fight than an entire platoon.

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