Joe Schofield has the distinction of wearing the SAS Badge and Wings for a continuous 45 years of army service – the longest ever.
A boy soldier in 1938, Schofield went to the Middle East in 1940 with No 8 (Guards) Commando and was in Tobruk when David Stirling came recruiting for “L” Detachment. Soon after Schofield heard that he had been transferred to the S.B.S. then S.R.S. and finally to 1 S.A.S. He served in the Middle East, Sicily and Italy, parachuted into France for D Day, and fought through N.W. Europe and into Germany.
Near Oldenburgh, in April 1945, Schofield was in a 4-jeep section, ahead of a larger column, which came under heavy and sustained machine gun, panzerfaust, sniper rifle and small arms fire from two houses and a wood on the right hand side of the country road on which they were moving. Schofield was badly wounded and the commander killed. The survivors took shelter in a ditch on the left side of the road but were pinned down. The other jeeps, unable to advance, waited at a crossroad further back.
Lt. Col. Paddy Mayne, alerted by radio, reached the other jeeps, made his way, alone, to the first house, made sure it was clear, used a Bren, shooting from the shoulder, to clear the second house then, with a volunteer manning the rear guns, drove a jeep up the road, under fire, firing at the enemy in the woods, turned, drove back down the road, then went up again, still under fire, lifted Schofield from the ditch, pulled him and the others into his jeep, and drove back. For this, Mayne was nominated for the Victoria Cross but received instead a third bar to his DSO.
Schofield spent several months in hospital. In 1946, still on crutches, he was posted to the Airborne Forces Depot, where he spent months on light duties. The wartime SAS had been disbanded, but Schofield continued to wear the SAS Badge and Wings. In 1947, he transferred to the newly formed 21 SAS TA as a Permanent Staff Instructor. In the succeeding years Joe Schofield served with 21, 22 and 23 SAS.
Sadly Major Schofield passed away on February 8th 2012. He will be sadly missed.