He Who Dared and Died – Book Review

Since its formation within the dark days of the Second World War, the SAS has become legendary. The successful release of the hostages from a London embassy was televised worldwide.  It is a unit which has been almost constantly involved in every conflict and terrorist situation possible.  But how did it start? 

This is the story of one of the original SAS members.  Chris O’Dowd was an Irish boy who ran away to join the Irish Guards aged 18.  His involvement in the Norwegian campaign and the North African desert led to him being hand-picked to be a founder member of the SAS. 

His tale is a poignant one for he was one of the soldiers who never came back from war.  Yet his courage won him the Military Medal.  This is more than just a standard book about the formation of an elite military unit – it is the story of a boy who became a man in battle and died in the process. 

It offers a glimpse of the lack of confidence that many in the army possessed with regard to the SAS – they did not believe that it had a role to play. The resultant story of a unit flourished against all odds, and of an Irish boy who never expected to get caught up in war.

This is a book which will appeal to anyone who is interested in military history of the Second World War.  It is well written, and meticulously researched.