SAS soldier’s medals archive in Fine Arts & Specialist Sale

HE’S been described as ‘the ultimate professional soldier’.

But now former SAS trooper Peter McAleese is bidding a farewell to arms – in fact his entire archive documenting his explosive career is coming up for auction in Lichfield.

Glaswegian McAleese, 77, has served with Britain’s Parachute Regiment, the SAS, Rhodesia’s SAS and the South African Defence Force.

He’s battled drug barons in Colombia, trained bodyguards in Moscow and taken on security work in Algeria and Iraq.

He was even part of a special taskforce set up in an attempt to assassinate Pablo Escobar.

This month, McAleese’s personal collection goes under the hammer at Richard Winterton Auctioneers’ Fine Arts & Specialist Sale at The Lichfield Auction Centre, Fradley Park, Staffordshire, now rescheduled for Monday, April 27. (Est. £15,000-£22,000*)

View the catalogue here.

At the helm is his three-bar General Service Medal named to Trooper SAS as part of a unique group of nine medals.

The collection, which also includes McAleese’s berets, dog tags and even a handmade ceramic plaque painted by staff in Algeria as a tribute during his stint organising security, is estimated to fetch up to £22,000.

The divorced dad-of-three has decided to part with the archive of a lifetime’s soldiering after downsizing to a one-bed flat in his adopted home of Birmingham, where he once ran The Gunmakers Arms pub.

“I’m just an ordinary person, who happened to find himself doing extraordinary things. I mean that from the bottom of my heart,” McAleese said.

“I’ve had a great life. I’m extremely happy at the moment and I have a marvellous relationship with my family.

“I enjoyed the Army – the Army was good to me. It just came to an end. 

“I was a professional soldier and like a guy who is a brickie, for example, you go where the work is.”

He added: “I’ve ended up with quite a lot of personal militaria relating to my career and there was just too much stuff – it was just gathering dust.”

McAleese has detailed his extensive experiences in several books, including the stone-cold classic No Mean Soldier.

Peter McAleese was born on September 7 1942 in Glasgow near Barlinnie Prison.

He enlisted in the Parachute Regiment in Aberdeen aged 17 and after basic training became a member of the 1st Battalion Mortar Platoon until 1962, when he completed the legendry selection course to become a member of the 22 Regiment SAS.

McAleese subsequently went to train with US Special Forces at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, being one of the first SAS troopers to complete HALO parachute training with the US Green Berets.

He served in the Aden Crisis in the 1960s, later returning to become one of the first SAS troopers to free-fall parachute into a ‘hot zone’.

McAleese also served in Bahrain, Cyprus and Borneo with the SAS 16th Air Troop fighting in the gruesome jungle warfare of the latter.

He left the British Army in 1969 and after a stint on the North Sea oil rigs in 1975 took up a new career as a professional soldier fighting in the Angolan Civil War on behalf of the National Liberation front of Angola, even assuming command of the formation after the capture of British mercenary Costas Georgiou – who was executed by firing squad following the Luanda Trial.

In early 1977 McAleese went to Rhodesia where he enlisted with the Rhodesian SAS as a non-commissioned officer.

In 1979 he joined the Special Branch in South Rhodesia and in 1980 enlisted with the South Africa Defence Forces 44 Parachute Brigade, in which he served as colour sergeant.

Pictured: McAleese upon leaving the South African army; as a fresh-faced SAS trooper in Borneo, 1965; and preparing for an assault on Pablo Escobar's villa in Colombia, 1989.

In the early 1980s he was instrumental in the creation of a new Pathfinder Reconnaissance unit and served in the South Africa Border War.

By the mid-80s, McAleese set up home in Pretoria and became employed with the COIN security group, a military police private contractor based in South Africa.

He would go on to be severely injured in a near-fatal parachute display jump before returning to the UK.

At the end of the 1980s he spent two years working for government forces in the Colombian drug wars, including involvement in a covert operation to locate and “deal with” narcotics baron Pablo Escobar.

McAleese subsequently went on to work in Moscow as a bodyguard training instructor and undertook security work in Algeria, and later Iraq, for several years.

In Birmingham, he ran The Gunmakers Arms public house. He still lives in the Midlands city.

Nick Thompson, medals specialist at Richard Winterton Auctioneers, said: “Peter McAleese not only served his country with distinction but led a very colourful military career throughout.

“In the world of collecting military medals, those to the British Special Forces hold a particular place in people’s hearts.

“They are the classic British troops dropped behind enemy lines and working undercover, no different to the modern SAS.

“From a collectors’ point of view, whenever groups like this come on the market they’re always sought-after because of the story to tell.

“The beauty of this group is that McAleese has published books highlighting his military career with the British Army, Rhodesian SAS, South Africa Defence Forces 44 Parachute Brigade and private security work.

“What sets this group out from others which have come to market is the variety of medals and awards that have been issued to this man and from different countries. That sets the group apart as being totally unique.

“Because of the secretive nature in which the SAS is run – for all the right reasons – it’s sometimes very hard for the collector to find out the story behind the medals but not in this case. It’s all there in the books.

“This group represents a unique insight to the tough world of a professional soldier.”

The Peter McAleese collection goes under the hammer as Lot 166 in Richard Winterton Auctioneers’ Fine Arts & Specialist Sale at The Lichfield Auction Centre, Fradley Park, Staffordshire.

Call 01543 251081 or email

Lot 166

The medals group up for auction is court-mounted and consists of, from left:

  • ERII General Service Medal 1918-1962, 3 bars, Borneo, South Arabia, Cyprus 1963-64, correctly named to 23782640 Trooper (TPR) P McAleese SAS
  • United Nations Medal (UNICYP) Cyprus
  • Zimbabwe Independance Medal, engraved 08233 on reverse
  • South Africa Pro Patria Medal, South African Defence Force, engraved 122596 on reverse
  • Southern Africa Medal, 1987. Engraved 003329 on reverse
  • South African General Service Medal, engraved 059962 on reverse
  • Jasa-Malaysia (Malaysian Service Medal) 1968-69 Emergency
  • Rhodesian Independance Medal, 11.11.65-11.12.79

NB The recipient states he was awarded the Cyprus Bar later and it was attached via a steel rod.

Also included in the lot for auction are:

  • Recipient’s official issue sand-coloured SAS beret, with cloth badge and South African Parachute Regiment beret
  • Recipient’s official British Army dog tag – stamped with the wrong blood group – together with Rhodesian and South African identity discs
  • A large wooden SAS Plaque, obtained by the recipient at auction due to its provenance from a contact at 22 S.A.S. HQ, Hereford
  • A large ceramic tile plaque, handmade and painted by staff in Algeria, during his time completing security work etc
  • A hardback copy of No Mean Soldier by Peter McAleese
  • Various frames containing cloth and metal insignia parachute/SAS related; wall plaques SAS related, some handmade; a stand with AK47 Bayonet attached, presented to recipient by SA CP Team Algiers 2002; glazed certificates, US Airborne, South African Parachute Regiment; photo of recipient completing HALO jump over Rhodesia; South African ID/driving licence etc; certificate of Service Rhodesian Army; boxed pewter SAS crest and weapon; horse brass; letter opener; small pin badge and bolo tie, US Special Forces.
*All prices are subject to buyer’s premium of 24% inclusive of 20% VAT
Our latest on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Keep up to date by signing up to recieve our emails.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

By signing up I agree to the privacy policy and I understand that I can unsubscribe any time.