Robert Blair “Paddy” Mayne typified those individuals who seemed to exist on this planet for one thing: to fight wars, and fight them well. To possess a heroism envied by many, yet lack the needed traits in peacetime that so often led to trouble.

The following story is about such a man, one who made his mark in British and military history as one of the truly great soldiers of any age. Remembered as one of the ‘Originals’ in the Special Air Service’s early era, Paddy Mayne was one of those grizzled specialists who traversed the foreboding North African desert to strike fear into the enemy during World War II.

Paddy Mayne was born in Northern Ireland on January 1, 1915, the youngest of seven children. During his teenage years, he became an able rugby player and also played golf and cricket. He also demonstrated apt skills as a marksman while studying for college to become a solicitor. It was here, after entering Belfast University, that his athletic ability spoke for itself as he became a Rugby star and took up boxing to become a heavyweight champion in 1936, only to lose on points before claiming the more prestigious University’s title.

Rugby managed to carry him on, and in 1938 he was selected for the British Lions team tour of South Africa, where, even though the team lost, he won praise for his skill before returning to Belfast to play for a local team.