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Oliver Cromwell, c1653

Oliver Cromwell: Lord Protector

Lieutenant-General Oliver Cromwell was a natural cavalry leader. He played a vital role in Parliament’s victories at the Battles of Marston Moor and Naseby, before leading successful campaigns in Ireland and Scotland.

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General Herbert Kitchener, 1899

Herbert Kitchener: The taskmaster

Field Marshal Herbert Kitchener was famous for colonial victories in the Sudan and South Africa. Later, he helped build Britain’s first mass army during the First World War.

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Major Herbert 'Blondie' Hasler and a colleague paddling a canoe, c1942

Herbert ‘Blondie’ Hasler: A Cockleshell Hero

Lieutenant Colonel Herbert ‘Blondie’ Hasler was an inventor, pioneering yachtsman and special forces canoeist. In December 1942, he led the daring ‘Cockleshell Heroes’ raid on Bordeaux harbour.

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Captain Nigel Clogstoun-Willmott, c1944

Nigel Clogstoun-Willmott: Covert beach surveyor

During the Second World War, Nigel Clogstoun-Willmott founded the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties to undertake covert beach reconnaissance. This proved vital for the success of Allied seaborne invasions.

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Captain Roger Courtney, 1943

Roger Courtney: SBS pioneer

Major Roger ‘Jumbo’ Courtney founded the Special Boat Section during the Second World War. This became one of Britain’s most important Special Forces and was a parent unit of the modern Special Boat Service.

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Lieutenant Colonel Robert 'Paddy' Mayne near Kabrit, Egypt, 1942

‘Paddy’ Mayne: An Irish Lion

Lieutenant-Colonel 'Paddy' Mayne is a legendary figure in the history of the Special Forces. A celebrated sportsman with a turbulent character, he played a vital role in the early successes of the Special Air Service (SAS), becoming one of its most important commanders.

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Lieutenant Jock Lewes, 1940

‘Jock’ Lewes: SAS mastermind

As the co-founder of the Special Air Service (SAS), Lewes played a vital role in establishing the unit’s ethos and high standards of training and discipline.

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The Duke of Marlborough, 1702

The Duke of Marlborough: Corporal John

Marlborough’s long career as a soldier and statesmen spanned the reigns of five monarchs. His triumphs were not only due to his amazing military talents; they were also a result of politics and patronage.

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Major David Stirling, c1942

David Stirling: The Phantom Major

David Stirling was a pioneer of British Special Forces. In 1941, he founded the Special Air Service (SAS) in Egypt to undertake small-scale raids behind enemy lines.

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Lieutenant-General Sir Archibald Wavell, 1938

Archibald Wavell: Britain’s first wartime victor

Field Marshal Sir Archibald Wavell led an imaginative and flexible campaign against the Italians in North Africa. His triumph over their vastly superior forces was Britain’s first success of the war and paved the way for later victories.

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Field Marshal Viscount Garnet Wolseley, 1910

Garnet Wolseley: The modern major-general

Field Marshal Garnet Wolseley won important victories in several colonial campaigns. Because of his reforming zeal and attention to detail the phrase ‘All Sir Garnet’ came to mean everything’s in order.

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General Sir Douglas Haig, 1916

Douglas Haig: The chief

Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig commanded the British Army when it achieved arguably its greatest victories, those over the Germans on the Western Front. But for many his leadership was marked by unacceptable losses.

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