From an early age, Charles Hebden, born in Yorkshire, had a yearning to get away from the small village where he lived and travel in search of adventure. The opportunity arose when he was just 15 years old and he signed up to become an apprentice tradesmen with the British Army.
To his disappointment he found life as a boy soldier distinctly lacking in excitement and sadly this didn’t change on reaching the age of 18 and transferring to the Royal Engineers, which he found even more dull than his previous experiences.
However, in 1950 his application to join a unit called the Malayan Scouts was successful and at last his life was destined to become a lot more interesting. Then under the command of ‘Mad Mike’ Calvert, this unit was involved in jungle patrols in northern Malaya, hunting down Communist terrorists, punctuated by off-duty periods between operations in Singapore or Penang when riotous parties were the order of the day.
This was the life of a soldier as Charles had imagined it and he loved every minute of it.
During his time with the unit it was renamed the 22nd Special Air Service, so Charles and his contemporaries became founder members of the SAS. They underwent specialist parachute training for jungle conditions before going into action in the Ipoh area of Malaya. His account of this period provides an interesting commentary on the early days of this elite British Army regiment.
Charles remained in the Army for an eventful 22 years, leaving in the early 1970s, but was to have many further adventures as a civilian ~ in Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa ~ with just a small break as a mercenary in Angola ~ all of which are described in the second part of this entertaining memoir.