Jimmy Storie was the last surviving member of “The Originals”, the handful of men with David Stirling at the birth of the SAS, and who survived the first disastrous SAS operation.
In late 1941, in the desert war of North Africa, Storie was one of 65 men and officers recruited by David Stirling for his infant Special Air Service. The first operation, on the night of November 17/18 1941 was revolutionary – parachute behind the lines in small groups, take out the enemy aircraft that threatened an Allied push, then make their way back across the desert to a rendezvous with the Long Range Desert Group.
On the night of the operation, a massive storm blew up. At the forward air base from which they would take off, Stirling addressed his men. Middle East Headquarters had given him the opportunity of postponing the mission. Stirling and the SAS had never been popular with the middle ranks at MEHQ. Postpone – which effectively meant cancel - he now told his men, and his enemies would kill off the SAS before it had begun. Jump in to the storm, he also told them, and many of them would not survive.
No one backed down. Stirling and the 65 men parachuted into the storm; their equipment, weapons and explosives were lost; then a massive rainstorm swept the desert. Of the 65, only 22 made it out to the RV with LRDG. Jimmy Storie was one of them.
It should have been the end of the SAS. In fact, it was the beginning. Stirling hid his men, ordered them to somehow acquire more weapons and explosives, then, without telling anyone, and carried by the LRDG, the 22 went back into the desert and finished the job. Jimmy Storie was the last survivor of those 22 men.
He went on to serve throughout the desert campaign, Sicily, Italy, behind the lines in France for D-Day, and in the push through Germany.
Sadly Jimmy passed away on January 8th 2012, truly the end of an era.