Discover the Incredible Origins of the SAS

Tom Petch

A former SAS Troop Commander will be at the Players Theatre, Thame, on Wednesday 8th February at 7.30 pm, talking about his latest book, Speed. Aggression. Surprise, a controversial, myth-busting account of the creation of the SAS, revealing how the unit came into existence and much more.

An Evening with Tom Petch is the first joint event of 2023 marking a newly launched partnership between Thame Arts & Literature Festival (TAL) and Thame Museum in association with Thame Players. TAL’s director, Yvonne Maxwell, said, “We are delighted to be embarking on this exciting new collaboration between the three major arts & culture facilities in Thame, and our evening with former SAS Commander Tom Petch is the first of many future talks and events we will be putting on jointly. We believe this new association will enrich the cultural life of Thame.”

The SAS is the most legendary special forces unit in the world and the most secretive. The official story, as told in the BBC’s Rogue Heroes fictional account, is that it was formed when David Stirling recruited a plucky band of officers at the end of the Second World War.  But its real origins stretch back far earlier to an idea born in the trenches of the First World War, as a revolutionary new kind of warfare which still shapes how the West fights today.

In writing his new book, Tom Petch had access to records and reports previously unavailable. He served for eight years in the British Army, becoming Troop Commander of 22 SAS.  His military experience has given him a unique perspective on recently declassified archives, operation reports, accounts and interviews with the original SAS and their commanders. Tom Petch is now an award-winning film director and producer. His debut film, The Patrol, won the Raindance Film Festival.

Tom Petch is also the great-great-grandson of Samuel Shepheard, who founded Shepheard’s Hotel Cairo, where the SAS was born – a key location in the book.


An Evening with Tom Petch is being held at the Players Theatre, Nelson Street, Thame OX9 2DP at 7.30pm on Wednesday 8th February. Tickets are £10 and may be purchased via Thame Museum online shop, or via Thame Players For those unable to attend in person, the talk is available as a live-stream – live-stream passes can be purchased using the same links as above.

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