282465 (1095726) Willis Michael SADLER, MC, MM, Royal Artillery, Long Range Desert Group & 1 SAS

Discussion in 'Special Forces' started by dbf, Jun 23, 2018.

  1. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Last surviving original SAS hero is awarded France's highest honour for bravery | Daily Mail Online

    Mike Sadler, 98, was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur yesterday, 74 years after he parachuted into Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War.

    He was given the award at a private event in London with representatives of the French embassy and former members of the SAS included on the guest list.

    The French defence attaché, Colonel Antoine de Loustal, who presented the red-ribboned medal to one of Britain’s last wartime heroes, said: ‘We shall not forget. We will never forget.’

    Mike Sadler (left) was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur yesterday, 74 years after he parachuted into Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War

    In 1941, Mr Sadler joined the Long Range Desert Group, a reconnaissance unit based in the North African desert.

    He was then brought into the arising Special Air Service - introduced by Lieutenant David Stirling to launch night-time raids against Axis airfields in Libya.

    Mr Sadler quickly became the unit’s top navigator as he was able to guide raiding groups across almost bare expanses of desert.

    Now almost blind, Mr Sadler said: ‘I’m afraid I can’t give a speech because I can’t read any notes as I can no longer see,’ reported the Times.

    Mr Sadler fought with the SAS in Italy and France following his time in the desert war, before setting up the SAS intelligence unit.

    In August 7, 1944, Mr Sadler was dropped by parachute into the Loire as part of Operation Houndsworth.

    The aim was to reach SAS squadrons behind the lines and help destroy fuel depots, encourage local resistance, and prevent Panzer divisions heading north.

    By this time Hitler had given instructions for any captured parachutists to be executed.

    Germans struck the two-jeep convoy with Mr Sadler returning fire, allowing the other jeep to flee before escaping himself. He was later awarded the Military Cross for gallantry.

    Those who formed L Detachment SAS named themselves ‘the Originals’, with Mr Sadler being considered an honorary one.

    He was given the role of lieutenant by Stirling but this was reportedly never told to the authorities so Mr Sadler finished the war as a major.

    In December 1941, Mr Sadler was part of the first successful SAS raid - on Wadi Tamet airfield - where a team of six men ruined 24 aircraft and a fuel dump.

    In December 1941 Mr Sadler was part of the first successful SAS raid, on Wadi Tamet airfield, where a team of six men ruined 24 aircraft and a fuel dump

    This was led by Lieutenant Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne, a former Irish international rugby star who would become one of Britain’s most decorated soldiers.

    On the night of July 26, 1942, Mr Sadler, without headlights or a map, guided 18 jeeps filled with twin Vickers K machine guns along 70 miles of desert to within 200 feet of Sidi Haneish airfield.

    The group then opened fire as they drove between planes, wrecking at least 37 aircraft. But one of the SAS jeep drivers was sadly shot through the head during the attack and buried in the sand.

    ‘I do remember the people who didn’t survive, and who didn’t have the chance to receive this great honour,’ Mr Sadler said.

    He was awarded the Military Medal for the Tamit and Sidi Haneish attacks.

    Mr Sadler was also one of the officers to follow Stirling on the last SAS operation during the desert war in January 1943.

    This involved trying to cross the Tunisian desert to meet the British-American 1st Army but they were ambushed by a German unit.

    Stirling was captured and would spend the rest of the Second World War as a prisoner of war in Colditz.

    Mr Sadler managed to escape along with another SAS soldier and an Arabic-speaking Frenchman.

    He guided the group on a five-day, 100-mile trek, without a map, or any food provisions, to link up with the 1st Army.

    American war correspondent A J Liebling witnessed Mr Sadler as he arrived from the desert, and wrote: ‘The eyes of this fellow were round and sky blue and his hair and whiskers were very fair.

    'His beard began well under his chin, giving him the air of an emaciated and slightly dotty Paul Verlaine.’

    In 2014, the then French president, François Hollande, ordered that all surviving British soldiers who helped in the liberation of France should be awarded the Légion d’honneur.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Personal Number: 282465
    Army Number: 1095726
    Rank: Captain
    Name: Willis Michael SADLER, MM, MC
    Unit: Royal Artillery, King's Royal Rifle Corps & 1 Special Air Service Regiment

    London Gazette : 23 July 1943
    Lce-Bdr. Willis Michael SADLER (282465) from R.H.A. to be 2nd Lt. 10th Oct. 1942.

    London Gazette : 29 September 1944
    The undermentioned W ar Subs. Lts. to be War Subs. Lts., retaining their present seniority: —
    From K.R.R.C., 1st Apr. 1944: —
    W. M. Sadler (282465).

    London Gazette : 22 March 1945
    The Military Cross.
    Captain (temporary) Willis Michael Sadler, M.M. (282465), Army Air Corps (Sheepscomibe).

    London Gazette : 15 January 1946
    War Subs. Lt. W. M. SADLER, M.M. (282465) relinquishes his commn., 1st Nov. 1945, on appt. to Rhod. Forces.

    London Gazette : 22 October 1954
    Willis Michael SADLER, M.C., M.M. (28246S), late A.A.C. (S.A.S.R.) to be Lt., 25th May 1954 and is granted the hon.. rank of Capt.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
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  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
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  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
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  5. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Sadler, Willis Michael (Mike) (Oral history)

    • Object description: Rhodesian NCO served with S Patrol, Long Range Desert Unit and British NCO served with L Detachment, Special Air Service Bde in North Africa, 1941-1942, including raid on airfield at Sidi Haneish, Egypt, 26/Jul/1942
    • Content description: REELS 1-4: Discussion recorded on location in North Africa about operations by Long Range Desert Group and SAS in North Africa, 1941-1942, including raid on airfield at Sidi Haneish, Egypt, 26/Jul/1942.
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  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD


    Attached Files:

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  7. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Michael Sadler is still alive, having celebrated his 100th birthday in February 2020 @ Special Forces Club, London, alas he lost his wife shortly afterwards and now has lost his sight.
    This linked article reflects most of the Daily mail story, except for the last few passages: WWII SAS Hero Awarded the Légion d’honneur at 98 Years Old
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  8. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    An undated photo below, Sadler is on the right (others not named). Today spotted the IMG had gone, alas I'd not kept the donor's email.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2022
  9. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Last edited: Oct 31, 2022
  10. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    See Post 26 in the parallel thread on the French SAS in Tunisia: The French SAS in Tunisia January 1943

    It contains a wartime French newspaper article and an English translation (which refers to Sadler and two colleagues who escaped from the Germans and walked for three days to reach safety), plus a map of the all the SAS patrol areas.
  11. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    From Post 31 in the parallel thread, by Jim Herriot and Post 35 by moi for more details. Now which one is Sadler? I'd suggest it is the man at the back smiling broadly.

  12. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    From a distant helper (not the French helper) a photo they have found of Stirling and Michael Sadler, no other details given. The writing on a box is illegible when zoomed into. The vehicle appears to be a truck and in the background are a number of wooden crates. The image of Sadler is a good likeness of other photos here and in Post 1 very similar image including Stirling's headgear. stirling and sadler.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2022 at 6:39 PM
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