SAS mem­ber re­lives Malaya

Marlborough Midweek - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JEN­NIFER EDER

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.’’

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