Archive from the ‘grandad of the SAS’: Photos from the 50s and 60s show troops on parachute training, machine gun practice and crawling through a jungle – taken by hero who spent 34 years in elite ‘Who Dares Wins’ regiment

  • Black and white images were taken and collected by Lieutenant Colonel William Mundell in 1950s and 1960s 
  • Lieutenant Colonel Mundell spent 34 years in the ‘Who Dares Wins’ regiment from 1953 until 1987 
  • One photo shows him climbing without ropes, whilst in another he is seen parachuting from a plane 
  • Other images show SAS members firing machine guns, canoeing and on patrol in the jungle 

Incredibly rare photos of the SAS in training that were owned by the regiment’s longest-serving member have emerged for sale. 

The black and white images, most of which which were taken by Lieutenant Colonel William Mundell in the 1950s and 1960s, show the high-risk exercises the elite commandos went through. 

Lieutenant Colonel Mundell, who spent 34 years in the ‘Who Dares Wins’ regiment from 1953 until 1987, is also seen in some of the images. 

One shows him climbing without ropes whilst in another he is seen parachuting from a plane.

Other images show SAS members firing machine guns, canoeing and on patrol in the jungle. 


Incredibly rare photos of the SAS in training that were owned by the regiment’s longest-serving member have emerged for sale. The black and white images, which were taken by Lieutenant Colonel William Mundell in the 1950s and 1960s, show the high-risk exercises the elite commandos went through. Above: Lieutenant Colonel Mundell climbing a cliff face and parachuting from a plane

The men of Lieutenant Colonel Mundell’s SAS unit. The soldier spent 34 years in the ‘Who Dares Wins’ regiment from 1953 until 1987

Lieutenant Mundell became an expert in jungle warfare and pioneered the hazardous practice of parachuting into the jungle canopy during which several comrades were killed or badly injured.

Lieutenant Colonel Mundell, nicknamed ‘granddad’ by his SAS colleagues owing to his long service, excelled in the Cold War conflict in Indonesia and British Malaya in the 1960s.

Then a sergeant, he commanded an SAS fighting patrol in Borneo and undertook several clandestine cross-border operations.

He became an expert tracker in the jungle and was also able to recruit locals as spies to gather information about the activities of the Indonesian Army.

He was awarded the British Empire Medal for his work in the conflict and went on to train SAS troops in jungle warfare, advising young recruits to ‘make the jungle your friend.’

Lieutenant Colonel Mundell died aged 88 in 2020. Now his family are selling off some of his SAS mementoes.

A member of the SAS is seen in one of Lieutenant Colonel’s photos just before he touches down in a parachute jump. The SAS stands for the Special Air Service. The regiment was formed in July 1941 during the Second World War

Soldiers are seen surrounding a U.S. Army plane parked at an airfield. One man is perching in the open cargo door of the plane

One of Lieutenant Colonel Mundell’s images shows SAS members lined up in canoes. It is unclear where the image was taken

Members of the SAS are seen practising with machine guns. One of the men appears to be wielding a Browning M1919

Ready to fire: Members of the SAS are seen crouching over a mortar in a field, as a trio of other men do the same just behind them. The SAS were disbanded after the Second World War but then reformed in 1947. In 1951, they were deployed during the Malayan Emergency

Lieutenant Colonel (front) is seen carrying a canoe out of a stretch of water. Lieutenant Colonel Mundell was born at Maybole, Ayrshire

Stephen Bosley, of Bosleys & Marlows Auctioneers of Stafford, which is selling the archive, said it was very rare to come across uncensored photos of the SAS.

He said: ‘Any SAS photographs that you see are usually carefully chosen, official publicity shots with a black line over the eyes of the men so as not to identify them.

‘But Bill Mundell was also the unofficial photographer for the regiment and took these photos while in training.

‘I don’t know whether he was supposed to have them but they are quite amazing. It doesn’t matter now because these men have long retired or have passed away but you can see their faces quite clearly.

‘Usually people serve between two to four years in the SAS but Bull Mundell spent 34 years with them which is extraordinary.’

Members of the SAS are seen sitting in a Land Rover in another of Lieutenant Colonel Mundell’s images. His archive, which also includes his SAS jungle combat kit, SAS badges and wings and presentation tankards, is expected to sell for a combined £2,000 on May 11

Stephen Bosley, of Bosleys & Marlows Auctioneers of Stafford, which is selling the archive, said it was very rare to come across uncensored photos of the SAS

Members of the SAS are seen relaxing between two vehicles in an image that features in Lieutenant Colonel Mundell’s arhive

Members of the SAS are seen rowing in two-man canoes. The men were among the best-trained soldiers in the British Army

SAS commandoes are seen training in jungle warfare. The SAS were deployed in Malaya from 1948 until 1960 and were later sent to Borneo

Members of the SAS abseil during training. Whilst one of the men does the bulk of the work, another enjoys a piggy back ride

Members of the SAS are seen sitting on their Land Rovers in an image taken by Lieutenant Colonel Mundell. It is unclear where the image was taken

Members of the SAS pose for a photo inside their Land Rover in the desert. The image is among those collected by Lieutenant Colonel Mundell during his long career

Lieutenant Colonel Mundell was born at Maybole, Ayrshire. He did his National Service with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers Regiment and was sent off to fight in the Korean War.

While there he was in a slit trench when a Chinese mortar round landed. It failed to explode but killed his comrade standing beside him.

Lieutenant Colonel Mindell was demobilised in 1952 but re-enlisted the following year into the SAS Regiment at Glasgow to fight in Malaya.

After the Indonesia Confrontation he served with 23 SAS Regiment (TA) in Oman and undertook a number of undercover operations in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

He retired from the SAS in 1987.

His archive, which also includes his SAS jungle combat kit, SAS badges and wings and presentation tankards, is expected to sell for a combined £2,000 on May 11.

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