Page last updated at 14:53 GMT, Thursday, 6 May 2010 15:53 UK
The SAS: The Special Air Service, Hereford's Regiment
The SAS cap badge
The SAS cap badge, with their famous motto

The Special Air Service, or SAS, are based in Hereford, and are the best-known elite fighting force in the world.

The hand-picked troops who serve in "The Regiment" have had to pass a selection process that is legendarily tough.

They are trained to tackle anything from counter-terrorism to covert operations behind enemy lines.

The SAS are based at Credenhill, on the outskirts of Hereford.

The SAS - timeline

1941: Founded by David Stirling as a desert raiding force, operating behind German lines in North Africa.

1946: SAS is disbanded.

1947: SAS reformed.

1950 - 1955: Active service in Malaya, during the emergency.

1958 - 1959: Active service in Oman.

1964 - 1967: Active service in Aden.

1970 - 1977: Second tour of active service in Oman.

1975: Storm a hijacked airliner at Stansted airport, capturing the lone hijacker.

1976: Deployed to Northern Ireland.

The SAS at the seige of the Iranian Embassy in 1980
The SAS at the seige of the Iranian Embassy in 1980

1980: End the Iranian Embassy siege in London.

1981: Hostage rescue mission in The Gambia.

1982: Active service in the Falklands conflict.

1987: Rescue a prison warder held hostage during riots at Peterhead prison.

1988: Three suspected IRA terrorists killed by the SAS in Gibraltar.

1991: First Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm) - includes the Bravo Two Zero mission.

1997: Searching for suspected war criminals in Bosnia.

1999: Active service in Kosovo.

2001: Active service in Afghanistan.

2003: Second Iraq war.

A comprehensive history of the SAS available on this website.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

SAS selection process

The SAS selection procedure is a gruelling six-month test of a soldier's mental and physical stamina.

Candidates have only two chances to make the grade.

The endurance tests take place in the Brecon Beacons, and include:

Still from SAS - are you tough enough
A BBC series put people through a version of the SAS selection tests

The fan dance

This is a 24km (15 mile) trek over mountainous terrain carrying a 15kg (32lb) Bergen pack

24km is the same distance as from Worcester to Evesham, or Hereford to Ross-on-Wye.

15kg is the same weight as 14 bags of sugar, a car tyre or a four-year-old boy.

The long drag

The last and toughest of the endurance tests consists of a 64km (40 mile) trek carrying a 25kg (55lb) Bergen pack - it has to be completed in 24 hours.

64km is the same distance as from Redditch to Tewkesbury, via Worcester, or from Ross-on-Wye to Ludlow, via Hereford.

25kg is the same weight as 25 bags of sugar, two car tyres or an eight-year-old boy.

Those who pass these tests then have to go to Belize for jungle training.

The final part of the selection process tests candidate's ability to evade being hunted down by regular soldiers, while living off the land.

After this they undergo an interrogation test, where they are rigorously questioned, under extreme pressure, and are only allowed to give their name, rank and serial number.

More on the SAS selection process

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

The Iranian Embassy siege - May 1980

Operation Nimrod, where the SAS released hostages being held at the Iranian Embassy in London, established their reputation across the world.

Iranian embassy siege, May, 1980
The dramatic end to the six-day siege as the SAS go in

The dramatic end of the siege was carried live on television news, with the now familiar black-clad figures lobbing stun grenades into the building, and disappearing through the embassy window on their rescue mission.

The 11-minute operation ended the six-day siege, with 19 hostages released.

Five terrorists were killed, and one captured.

The rescue, stage by stage, from a BBC News Online page made at the time of the siege Six days of fear - BBC News Online page made at the time of the siege

AUDIO - interviews with SAS troopers and their wives

Lofty Wiseman
Lofty Wiseman, the youngest person to eneter the SAS

Listen to interviews with former members of the Special Air Service, and their wives, about life in this elite regiment, and their base at Credenhill in Hereford.

Exclusive interviews with BBC Hereford & Worcester's Nicola Goodwin:

SAS in pictures

SAS memorial
A memorial stone to the SAS in St Martin's church, Hereford

Photos of some of the areas in and around Hereford with Special Air Service connections.

Plus pictures of their most famous operation, the ending of the six-day siege of the Iranian Embassy in London, in 1980.

SAS: Troopers tell their stories
06 May 10 |  History
The SAS unmasked
25 Jul 02 |  UK
The cult of the SAS
26 Apr 00 |  Iranian embassy siege


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2018 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific