Special forces

SAS veteran Rusty Firmin: 'Death didn't even enter my mind'

WATCH: Rusty Firmin 'quick-fire' questions ...

Rusty Firmin, Blue Team Leader for the 1980 SAS hostage rescue operation in London, will appear online across two days to mark the 41st anniversary of the famous raid. 

Described as the day the SAS came out of the shadows, Rusty will provide a "bullet by bullet" walkthrough of the rescue mission.

Speaking to BFBS ahead of the event, the SAS legend explained that plans to mark the 40th-anniversary last year were cancelled at the last minute due to the Covid pandemic. He hopes now, a year on, fans will join him for the event, which will also allow people to ask the former special forces man any questions about the operation or his broader 15-year service in the regiment.  

Rusty event info

Rusty gave a flavour of some of the matters he will cover at the event, which spans two nights in May. He included remarks about an absent fear of being killed during the operation - "it didn't even cross my mind", he said, speaking of the final moments before the order to 'Go! Go! Go!'

The SAS man also spoke of Margaret Thatcher's character, a woman he met several times, describing her as the "best Prime Minister we've had."

Rusty revealed that he and his SAS colleagues stopped off at the services for "burgers and chips" on the way back to Hereford after the mission.

reel footage of siege.  Iranian Embassy 1980. Rusty Firmin. SAS
The world watched on as the SAS was brought out of the shadows. Credit: Alamy

Rusty was asked whether he ever gets upset about the tendency of "Walts" - a slang term abbreviated from 'Walter Mitty' used to describe people who lie or embellish their military record - telling tall tales that made out they were involved in the raid.

Armed Forces personnel are often irritated by 'Walter Mitty Characters', which refers to people who have aspirations to be an elite soldier, but none of the necessary personal qualities and the term comes from a character in American literature who is portrayed as a meek and bumbling man who fantises and spends much of his time lost in heroic daydreams.

The 71-year-old veteran explained that although he did not get upset personally, fantasists did annoy him and that their lies "are offensive to those who were there."

He said:

"For everyone that's got an earned badge out there, there's a thousand Walter Mitties…"

Embassy Siege footage. Alamy. SAS
The Embassy raid by the SAS to free the hostages occurred on May 5, 1980, in Knightsbridge, London. Alamy

And on Channel 4's  TV Show, SAS: Who Dares Wins, Rusty was equally dismissive, stating that he disliked the programme, adding it should be renamed to what it "really is … a show about the SBS."

Rusty also gave his opinions on the signature motto of Del Boy, from the TV series Only Fools And Horses who often uses the catchphrase 'He who dares wins' and Rusty also revealed that to him, lockdowns are "like being in a O.P. with somebody you don't get on with too well."

The 41st anniversary of the Iranian Embassy raid falls on May 5, 2021. 

The event, called Six Days in Knightsbridge - The SAS And The Iranian Embassy Siege, will be hosted by notable historian and journalist Guy Walters and will include an opportunity for audience members to ask their own questions to the man himself. Attendees must book in advance via the link below.

For more information and to book, visit https://www.crowdcast.io/e/bf3wpj6u/register

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