Storming the Iranian Embassy to Chairman and CEO of Threedeemee (filling in the blanks)
This week, 39 Years ago, I was one of the elite SAS assault team who stormed the Iranian Embassy in London on operation Nimrod but I have not spoken about it much since, however, I thought I would fill in a few blanks on this anniversary. B Squadron was, and most likely still are today, not very serious about life and they are always messing about, that is unless we had to do the business. Actually, we had all been watching the snooker finals for 6 days in the leadup to storming the embassy and it was the final frame when we received the orders that we had a go and rescue the hostages. No one really wanted to leave until we finished the snooker but, in the end, we relented and went up onto the roof to meet our fate.
I was 6th Troop and the first man to enter the embassy through the skylight on the roof. No one really knows who was first in embassy as we all went on the same command “go go go” followed by a big bang, so it could have been anyone of 5 or 6 of us. On the “Go” Llewellin and someone else broke the skylight in with sledge hammers. then threw a ladder in. I slid down the ladder into the bathroom, followed by Pete S. The door was tied shut from the outside of the bathroom, so I had to try and break it down but we were confined in a small space, extremely exposed to anyone the other side of the door on the top floor. I drew my small pick-axe and took a swing at the T at the top of the panelled door, it did not break, took a second swing, missed, my arm went straight through the panel and the axe went spinning down the corridor the other side (I had to laugh a little at this point, thinking that it may look funny from the other side), Pete was trying to shoot off the lock of the door but it just sent splitters of brass and metal fragments back at my leg so he put a burst through the door to give us covering fire. Llew threw me down the sledge, that worked, 2 swings and I bundled myself over the remaining bottom of the door into the corridor to protect the lads as they came in to cleared the floor. This all took about 10 to 15 seconds but felt like a lifetime but if you cannot take a joke don’t join!
The lads cleared the floor and found no one there, so they started to remove furniture that the terrorists had blocked the stairs with; while I was recovering my breath and composure from our little ordeal with the door. Once clear, we went down 2 flights of stairs (I think) and at the bottom of the second flight a saw a man in a camouflaged jacket running right to left and down the stairs, Tom M in pursuit, shouting he was the main terrorist. Being too late for me to react, I tried to alert 8 Troop below with John S and the response was a large amount of MP5 fire from the lads down stairs.
I then took a right into the main killing room, one dead terrorist on the left with the whole top of his head shot off, most likely by the sniper but Tommy Palmer (RIP) had a hand in it as well. Second terrorist on the floor still twitching, two hostages on the right, both injured, Steve S had his index figure stuck into a bullet hole in one guy’s chest trying to stop the bleeding “Good work by Steve here”! I grabbed the twitching terrorist by the shoulder to check him out but Tom came back in and put a burst of 9 mm down the side of my arm into his lower back as he saw a grenade. It’s always close in these circumstances!
We then cleared the floor of hostages because it was starting to get warn, the floor below us was on fire but we were used to this, as we always seemed to end up in this situation, that is, burning the place down, mainly because of the number of explosives and flashbangs we had to use!
Myself and Taff S carried one of the injured hostages’ downstairs who had been shot, passing our friend that 8 troop dealt with. Once outside we handed him to the medics and Slim Harris pointed out a terrorist to us, Taff and I grabbed him and started to take him back inside the embassy for a little chat. A hostage started to scream out not to kill him (because she thought we had ill intentions) and said that he was a nice terrorist, Taff and I just looked at each other and decided that we should put him on the ground and handed him over to the police to be arrested.
On completing the operation, we had to go back inside next door to pick up our kit and there had been a very surly police sergeant with a long handle bar moustache, like John McAleese (RIP) who had been helping us for the whole 6 days. He never smiled the whole time he was with us but if you wanted anything (food, helicopters, shooting range anything, he got it for us.
He was standing there when we got back in, we were all delighted that none of us had been killed, this time he had a slight smile on his face, but when one of the guys said “who won the snooker”? he finally broke into laughter and replied, I have been watching you guys mess around for the whole 6 days thinking if this is the best we got, “God help us”. He then said, “you go in there, save all the hostages and kill or capture all of the terrorists and when you come out you are twice as bad”!
After retrieving our kit we all retired to Regents Park barracks and a little while later Maggie turned up, when she came in the room the first person, she bumped into was me and she was so delighted she never stopped shaking my hand for several minute, Willie Whitelaw was by her side and very relieved to say the least. My story is nothing special as all the guys who went in that day had similar experiences and should be highly commended for their actions.
All in all, a good day for the SAS, Counter Terrorism, Helarkock MP5 and it changed the movie industry completely because all the action movies from that day to this now involve: men dressed in black, in bullet proof vests, wearing gas masks, and carrying their MP5s. The only problem is the heroes in the movies are all +6 feet tall, good looking and officers however, in reality, it’s the privates to sergeants who run this show and most of us would not have made it as movie stars.