SAS member relives Malaya
When Maurice Marfell remembers signing up for the New Zealand Special Air Service, better known as the SAS, he describes himself as ‘‘young and naive’’.
‘‘I was in my mid-20s, too young for World War II. We were all trying to get in, but we were too bloody young. We had a different outlook on life back then.’’
Maurice, who lives in Blenheim, was working on the roads at Portage in the Marlborough Sounds when he heard the SAS was being formed in 1955.
‘‘I thought I might be a bit useful, and it would be an experience.’’
The team was to be based on the British SAS, ‘‘though I think we were made a bit harder’’, Maurice says.
‘‘There was weaponry training, but the big thing was to get us fit. I never had a beer for six weeks. You didn’t even feel
‘‘We were just like brothers, the whole lot of us. Ordinary people, just good mates.’’
like a beer, you were that tired, we just slept and ran, slept and ran.’’
After three weeks learning how to ‘‘jump out of planes’’, they were deployed to Malaya.
The troops headed into the jungle to face the Malayan guerillas, to aid Britain in the conflict.
‘‘I carried a shotgun for most of the time, until the new rifles came out. The shotgun was the best. You could put more holes in a target with a shotgun, and quicker.’’
Maurice’s squadron was quite successful, he says.
‘‘We never got the top guy, but we got the three guys under him.’’
The SAS were brought home in 1957, shortly before peace was declared.
‘‘Although some of us never came home,’’ Maurice says.
‘‘I decided to chuck it in. The SAS was disbanded and I never joined the army. I wasn’t interested in making a career out of it.’’
But Maurice keeps in touch with the other SAS members, and some them met up again earlier this month, hosted by Maurice’s family in Marlborough.
‘‘We were all good friends over there. And we like to hear what the others are getting up to. We were just like brothers, the whole lot of us. Ordinary people, just good mates.’’