SAS instructor reveals his Iranian Embassy secrets

Bankie Williams during his time with the SAS
Bankie Williams during his time with the SAS

A former physical training (PT) instructor who was attached to the SAS will reveal the secrets of his extraordinary career at a talk emphasising the importance of teamwork in Ashorne Village Hall on Friday September 25.

Bankie Williams, who lives in Ashorne near Leamington, produced the talk after speaking to soldiers who took part in the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980.

Bankie holding a scorpion

Bankie holding a scorpion

Money raised from the talk will go towards the refurbishment of Ashorne Village Hall.

He said: “I think the talk will provide fascinating insights into how elite teams like the SAS work.

“The most important thing is that the best teams work well when everything seems to go wrong.

“It’s not just for the adults in the room but for young people as well.

“I decided I’d like to get a bit more involved in the local community and help out with some fundraising - with luck there’ll be a good turnout for the talk.”

Mr Williams first joined the army as a chef after spending part of his childhood in children’s homes.

He then became a PT instructor in the Army Physical Training Corps, and was attached to the SAS for six years from 1986 after his potential as an instructor was apparently recognised by the Military Commissioner and Commander Sir Peter de la Billiere (often known as DLB) during the Falklands War.

Mr Williams still does not know the true reasoning behind his appointment at the time, adding: “I can only speculate.

“During the six months I was there maybe they saw something in me.

“When I returned to the UK I received a telegram saying: ‘Williams is going to Hereford’.

“I was both delighted and petrified about it.”

Many of the soldiers he met while attached to B Squadron 22 in the SAS were heavily involved in Operation Nimrod back in 1980, which saw a team of SAS troops assault the Iranian Embassy after 26 people were taken hostage by armed terrorists who had taken control of the building for six days.

Their experiences and valuable insight into performing as a team under extreme pressure helped form the talk that Mr Williams will give.

The talk will focus on the meticulous planning involved in the siege, the danger of it being broadcast on live TV, and extra detail from members of the teams that rescued the hostages.

It will be illustrated with footage of the rescue and several sporting triumphs where teamwork made the difference between winning and losing.

Since leaving the military over 20 years ago, Mr Williams has held a number of senior board positions in a variety of industries.

He is currently a performance coach with Vistage International, a company which focuses on improving the effectiveness of CEOs and managing directors.

He is now enjoying life in the country with his wife, Tanya, and their two young children.

The presentation will start at 7.15pm and the evening will include a light supper and bar.

Tickets are priced at £10, and anyone interested in booking should call Mary Cobb on 01926 651377.

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The Iranian Embassy Siege in 1980 threw the SAS into the public eye for the first time, despite the group existing since the Second World War.

On April 30 of that year, six terrorists campaigning for the autonomy of Khuzestan, a region in the southwest of Iran, stormed the embassy on Princes Gate in London, taking 26 people hostage.

Police and the Foreign Office had unsuccessfully tried to negotiate with the terrorists over six days, which culminated in the embassy’s chief press officer, Abbas Lavasani, being executed on May 5.

This prompted the-then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to send in the SAS during the evening to rescue the remaining hostages.

The operation was broadcast live on television and was viewed by millions of people across the UK due to May 5 being a bank holiday.

The SAS managed to save all but one of the hostages and killed all but one of the terrorists during the 17-minute raid.

Following the siege, Thatcher’s popularity received a significant boost, and the SAS received a huge increase in new applicants.