The Sun
18 January 2018

“My mentor Bob Curry was the perfect SAS soldier and deserves far better than being homeless”
By Andy McNab

Bob Curry, one of the SAS soldiers involved in the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege, has been left homeless by a local council which failed to house him. Now living in a B&B in Hereford, relying on charities and his mates for a roof over his head, Bob’s situation really is proof that it can happen to anyone.

Bob and I were in the same sabre squadron. When I joined, four years after the embassy siege, he was already a corporal. Around 1.5 million people claim to have been on that siege, but he was one of the real ones, and he had that air about him.

When you join a sabre squadron, you’re told to pick somebody who you think is the perfect SAS soldier and learn from them. Bob Curry was one of the lads who everyone was told to watch. He was actually my mentor on the counter-terrorism team before we did a tour together in the Middle East.

He’s smart, articulate and full of push, his business was successful, but now he’s fallen through the cracks and he needs a hand. All Bob needs is a leg up and somewhere to live, and he’ll be back on his feet in no time, but he has had to go cap in hand to a charity for help because local government hasn’t fulfilled their parts of the mutual contract. The regimental association has done a brilliant job looking after him but it should never come to this. When people sign up to our military, they deserve to be looked after once they’re out.

Just like we have veterans who are mental and physical casualties, we also have veterans like Bob who are victims of circumstance. He is just as much of a casualty as if he was shot or had a leg blown off. People like him don’t only need our help, they deserve it.

But, sadly, Bob’s situation is not uncommon. People are falling through the cracks, whether it’s through PTSD or unlucky circumstances, and we have to catch them as they’re coming through.

Rewind five years and all the local councils are talking about the Military Covenant to make themselves look good. If local councils claim they’re pro-military, it may look great on the PR sheet, but they have to make sure that they are stepping up to the plate when they need to.

All we need to do is get Bob back our there so he can be productive, restart his business and start paying taxes and doing his bit for the country all over again. It’s the council’s responsibility to make that happen and now is the time to start backing their pro-military words up with actions.

In general, veterans get on well after leaving the army, but things like this happen – and it can happen to anyone.

But how on Earth do we expect people to sign up to non-liability contracts, knowing they could be killed, if you know you’re not going to be helped afterwards? We, as a nation, are not fulfilling our part of the contract we have with people like Bob.

We’re failing him.

I see no reason why veterans shouldn’t be a priority – because of what they’ve done for the very establishment which is supposed to be helping them. And there are two things you can do to help.

Firstly, show we do care about our veterans by signing the petition to get Bob a home. Then petition your local councils. Email them and phone them to ask about how they are treating our veterans and demand that they do more. Jesse Norman, the local MP in this case, is a good man.

Hopefully he’ll get on to Bob’s case and do something about it – but there are going to be thousands more like him who need our help.

Give a home to SAS hero Bob, sign the petition here

Go here to read the full article in The Sun

Bob, pictured here in his SAS days, slipped between the cracks after his business went under.
Photo in The Sun/Bournemouth News


The Sun
10 January 2018

The new army advertising campaign that promotes emotional and physical support for recruits has prompted huge debate over the message it sends out.
Here former SAS sergeant Andy McNab and former First Sea Lord Admiral The Lord West of Spithead wade in to the row.

“If you don’t go out to all the sections of society to recruit, there won’t be a military” ~Andy McNab

“The adverts are a good move. The fact is, they’re opening up to a broader spectrum of potential applicants.

We are having problems recruiting people to the army because it’s not seen as a vocation any more and the bureaucracy of it is so painful that it puts people off.

If people think the military is full of six foot tall, four foot wide heterosexual males, then they’re wrong.

You get people jumping up and down saying it’s an outrage that there are gay people in the army but basically go to any battalion and try to pick the gay guys out, because you can’t – but they’re there. There have always been homosexuals in the army, there will always be great soldiers who are homosexual in the army. I think they’ve been watching too many Sunday afternoon, black and white war films. They exist in society so of course they’ll be in the military.

If you’ve got a gay man who wants to join the army, he now knows he’s welcome to apply. He’ll find out when he gets there if he wants to stay or not, but getting him there in the first place is the real issue.

PTSD and mental health issues are now being recognised as much as a battle space injury like getting shot or blown up and that’s the way it should be.

The adverts address this upfront – they’re being open about it and celebrating it. The campaign is saying, “It’s alright, it’s okay, we’re aware of it and we’re dealing with it, so come on in”. What these adverts do is address the issues for people who might stop going ahead with an application.

There have always been gay guys in battalions. So what? There have always been women in units, carrying the same weapons. The standard of the unit it’s not going to change. What you’re doing is opening up the pool of people to apply. It’s a weird sort of perception people have of the military. The whole black-white, men-woman thing has long disappeared. The senior management were brought up on punk music – they’re not all Colonel Blimps.”

It doesn’t matter what colour you are or what your sexuality is; if you fit the requirements, great, you’re in – now start working. ~Andy McNab

Go here to read the full article in The SUN



On Andy McNab’s ‘Line Of Duty’ tour Jan Radovic was fortunate to be able to attent one of Andy’s meetings and – lucky for us – acting as Grey Man’s Land on-the-scene reporter. As promised Part 2 with info on future projects and a load of other interesting stuff!! Happy reading and thank you Jan! 🙂

October 2017 by Jan Radovic

Everyone who follows Andy McNab on social media will know that fans worldwide are always asking about the characters, or the next book. The last we heard of Tom Buckingham was nearly 2 years ago in State of Emergency. I asked Andy when we’d be hearing from Tom again, and what sort of adventures were in store for him and his response will delight everyone:

“We’ve got the film coming up – Red Notice – going into studio production in June, 2018. Hopefully coming out 2019. Book-wise, Tom will be out and about in 2019 onwards. It’s all about time management at the moment…There was tv interest in Nick Stone from The Weinstein group, but not too sure what’s happening with that at the moment. Hopefully some idea by Christmas.”

Ever the Action Man, two years ago Andy trekked to the South Pole. This last year it was the North Pole. I asked if these trips were just grist for the Action McNab mill, or if they served a higher purpose?

“They serve a purpose, but not sure it’s higher. I get asked if I want to do these things, and it’s a great opportunity. Why wouldn’t I? I try to use all these experiences to put in the books, it give you a sense of place and environment, and it’s easier to write about things you know. I am planning on doing the Cresta Run next Spring. If you are given opportunities like these, it feels wrong to turn them down.”

And on a similar theme, in an interview earlier this year Andy stated he was climbing in the Andes of Peru, despite a documented antipathy to climbing. Was this an emulation of Joe Simpson’s climb in 1985 of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes, or something quite different?

“Totally different. It’s exactly the same as the last question. I was invited by someone who like climbing. We walked a famous route called The Big W, and part of it was climbing the mountain. It is literally just plugging the iPod in, switching off and getting on with it.”

On a far more serious note, in 2010 when Andy was questioned about PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), he was quoted in The Guardian as saying: “It is starting to be perceived as an honourable excuse for leaving prematurely…” You’ve lately commented on your own struggle with this condition, so please tell us more about that, and your involvement with PTSD999.
“I haven’t struggled with PTSD but more of my SAS Troop have committed suicide than were killed on operations. I have been one of the fortunate ones. If there is any struggle, it is making everybody aware that people who suffer from this deserve to be treated as a battle space casualty just as much as someone who has had a limb blown off. That is why I am involved in PTSD999. It’s a brilliant new charity doing two things.
It is making the general public aware that these people have a condition and need and deserve treatment, and they are also communicating to PTSD sufferers that they are not suffering from a mental illness, it is a condition which can be treated. They are also taking the focus beyond the military to first responders – fire, police and medics. Since 7/7 these guys are seeing a lot more than they ever used to.”

Still on this theme, I asked for further clarification: Sadly, returning military personnel with PTSD seems, increasingly, to be the ‘norm’ and the formation of charities dealing with this condition has become a growth industry. Why do you think our Government provides so little help for this, or is it something that is better served from the private or charitable sectors?

“I disagree with this. Ever since the formation of the NHS, veterans’ medical care has always been the responsibility of the NHS. Nothing has changed. 15% of the population have the propensity to suffer form PTSD if they are exposed to traumatic events. It is a normal reaction to an abnormal event. The military clearly see a lot more abnormal events than the average person, which is why there are more sufferers. The MOD are very proactive with service personnel in PTSD prevention and the combination of charities and state help for sufferers has existed since the Crimean War. The fact is that there is almost more that can be done. However, the last 10 years has seen a dramatic increase in help available because part of the problem is that PTSD sufferers feel stigmatised because they feel they have a mental illness when they haven’t. So the struggle is getting the sufferers to the aid.”

We live in a rapidly changing world, with terrorist acts in Europe and worldwide on the up. I asked Andy what his take was on the Government’s latest message of Run – Hide – Tell. Are there other things people caught up in a terrorist situation could, or should, be doing?

“No, the Government’s advice is spot on. You don’t know what you are doing, you are panicking. You might put yourself and the people are with in even more danger if you do different. However, what you have got to do before this is just be aware. If an abnormal event happens around you, for many of us it takes a long while to understand what is happening and to recognise the danger. That isn’t to say that you should walk around fearful all the time, but just to be aware of your surroundings so that if you do see something that is wrong, it doesn’t take so long for your brain to register that it is wrong and to get away quicker.”

We’ve all felt the bite of Government cuts, and in the past Andy has stated that he was behind David Cameron as ‘he gets it’ regarding military needs. How, if at all, has that opinion altered since his departure?

“If your question is whether I feel the current Government understands military needs, the answer is Yes. However, the fact is that the military are part of the bigger picture, it’s a matter of priorities. There is one pot for all the funding to come out of whether it is for the military or for the hospitals or education. That is the job of the Government of the day, to prioritise. We are currently seeing cuts to the Royal Marines and the Navy. I might not agree with it but I get the fact that the government has to make decisions with a bigger view of what is going on in the country and where spending needs to happen.”

Still on the theme of funding, I commented that despite vast sums being spent on the training of our troops and SF units with their transferrable skill sets, do you think the Government is doing enough to help those entering civvy street find work, or is this something that organisations like ForceSelect, Heroes4Hire, and Hire a Hero are for?

“Transition back into the “real world” has always been a tough thing and I agree that the system that does the transition could do a lot better. That is why companies like ForceSelect exist, they can do a better job because they are out there competing in the real world already. Also, the MOD needs to be doing more to let servicemen and women know the skills that they have got. Triservice not only produces amazing soldiers, sailors and airmen, they also produce fantastic citizens, and that message really needs to be pushed home.”

And finally, as every good interviewer knows, it’s always fun to end on a note of light relief so…

Q: Do you keep a weapon in your bedside cabinet?
A: No, of course not. (Bet he does, really.)

Q: Who is your money on for the Remembrance Day Rumble on November 11th – UKSF or USSF?
A: It’s got to be UK, obviously. (Quite right, too, and our money is on Matt ‘Ollie’ Ollerton.)

Q: How many points on your driving licence?
A: Points? What points? (Probably should have asked if he’s actually got a driving licence…)

Q: When’s the last time you ran the Fan Dance?
A: 4 summers ago. (He could probably give me a 2 hour lead and still beat me.) 
[‘Probably’ Jan??? ~GML] 

Q: Will you accept the knighthood when it’s eventually offered?
A: Yes, of course. (Phew!)

And finally, any last words or revelatory exclusive for the readers of Greymansland?
A: Buy more books!

Jan Radovic

Great read Jan! Andy, thanks as always for your time and Laura for making it all happening.
You’re the best, all of you!
Lynn & Jon – Greymansland


With Andy McNab on his ‘Line Of Duty’ tour we were fortunate Jan Radovic was (extremely) willing to act as Grey Man’s Land on-the-scene reporter. If you’ve never been so fortunate to attent one of Andy’s meetings here’s her report of what you’re missing out on! Betting you’ll be as envious as we are!!
Jan also got Andy to answer a few prying questions – we’ll post that soon too so keep watching this space 🙂
Thanks so much Jan, it’s a great read 😀

October 2017 by Jan Radovic

What’s it like to spend a night with SAS legend Andy McNab? You’d have to ask his nearest and dearest that one, but an evening spent listening to this man of action’s life of blood, guts, mayhem and war is thrilling stuff…

The variety of audience members is something I have found intriguing over the years; back in the day 50 or so people would gather in an upstairs room at an upmarket book store with a good mix of male/female and youngsters, and all for the princely sum of a fiver. These days the venue is more likely to be a conference room at a motorway-friendly hotel or, as last night, in the auditorium of a school. Attendance numbers are up noticeably, as is the cost: £20 for entry which also included a hard copy of the latest book and, of course, a talk and Q & A session, following by the book signing. Last year the event I attended had over 300 bodies, almost all men with the majority being squaddies or ex military. The testosterone level was so thick it was almost oppressive. Last night’s event was a far more genteel affair – well, the Woodhouse Grove School is a fee-paying public school so one would expect a somewhat different audience – and the split between male/female/6th form students was fairly equal. I asked Andy why he thought this occurred and he informed me that it’s all down to who arranges the bookings and where. What hasn’t changed one iota, though, is Andy’s obvious commitment to reading, and enthusing others with his mantra that knowledge is power.

After a brief welcome and introduction from one of the school’s pupils, who was framed by an array of camo-draped backdrops displaying a rather long finned rocket and flanked by what I think was a GPMG (or Gimpy) and a couple of bergens (the large rucksacks favoured by the military) the stage was set: enter Mr McNab to rousing claps of applause.

To anyone attending these events regularly they are somewhat formulaic in that Andy usually gives a brief description of his childhood and the antics which led to his incarceration at Borstal (think of the film ‘Scum’ and you’ll have an idea) but went with an option to join the military instead. If you want chapter and verse on this period read his autobiographical book ‘Immediate Action’.

From his early years Andy moved on to talk about THE defining moment, although he didn’t fully appreciate that at the time. The regimental Sgt Major informed the newly signed up boy soldiers that their average reading age was 11, but that was all about to change. Contrary to what these lads thought, they weren’t thick, they were merely uneducated. That night Andy read his first book – a Janet and John book. Aside from learning never to climb trees with either as they always seemed to fall out, he discovered that every time he read something new, he learned something new. And, as the man said, knowledge is power to do the things you only dreamed of previously.

The Bravo Two Zero job was the next topic up and it’s clear that Andy feels great pride that this is still the top selling military book of all time, and that following its publication recruitment figures for the military shot up. As the majority of this part of the talk was all known to me, I took the opportunity to study some of the audience surrounding me which included a mix of mainly men, but also a handful of women, and youngsters. The chaps were all leaning forward in their seats and it was obvious they were dying to ask questions, while I noticed half a dozen women wincing at the matter of fact bluntness of talk of ‘taking out the enemy’, describing a colleague who didn’t make it as a ‘sad bastard who was too old and too fat’ to catch a goat herding lad. The youngsters in the audience didn’t seem a bit phased by all the talk of war, dead bodies, or torture. This apparent cold bloodedness is common in those who put their lives on the line. People like soldiers, firefighters, and police officers I have spoken with say it’s a defence mechanism to protect their sanity; whatever works.

When Andy touched on the ‘tactical questioning’ AKA torture, which he and others underwent during their incarceration he was very philosophical about it all: they – the Iraqis – wanted information and questioning prisoners under duress was one of the quickest ways to get it. One of the audience members asked Andy if he would still slot the Iraqis who carried out the worst of the torture and his response was typical: ‘Yeah, yeah. If I could get away with it.’ C’est la guerre.

We heard a few tales of his time in Northern Ireland (the primary reason he still refuses to be openly photographed as there are still people out for his blood), as well as his introduction to jungle training after earning his sand coloured beret. He didn’t mention his crescent shaped scar (which was acquired via a leech and is probably every man’s worst nightmare. Read ‘Seven Troop’ for the full gory details).

Andy touched briefly on his time within a PMC (private military company to the likes of us), and informed us that when he went out to Iraq with others from his PMC they ‘stole an hotel’. As you do. Despite having no water or electricity they offered it as high end accommodation for hoards of broadcasters and, presumably, made a financial killing. You can take the boy out of South London, but…  Andy McNab is, and I suspect always will be, a hustler at heart. I didn’t get the chance to question him about Bravo2Burgers or his range of camo bras and knickers (Fact), but diversity seems to be key with this man.

Being a psychopath – a good one – just ask Prof. Kevin Dutton (The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success) – is possibly what drives this coiled spring of a man. Andy McNab obviously took that Sgt. Major’s words to heart all those years ago because there appear to be few topics he hasn’t read about or have an opinion on, and he has a finger in a multitude of pies. Aside from his writing, which is his bread and butter, Andy is on the board of ForceSelect, an organisation set up in 2009 to help ex military personnel make the transition into business civvy street. He has also recently become involved in PTSD999, a charity set up by a group of individuals with a past in either military or emergency services, and who have either suffered from or been involved with others who have had PTSD. Their remit is to offer help, advice, and confidential treatment. Andy also provided advice and training for a number of Hollywood films including Heat and, as he admitted apologetically, Pearl Harbour. Can’t win ’em all, lad. At least the technical side was good. ‘Red Notice’, a McNab book featuring the character Tom Buckingham has been made into a film, and Andy told me that ITV are currently fixing locations around the UK and Europe for the filming of the Boy Soldier books featuring the characters Danny Watts and his ex-SAS grandfather Fergus. And let’s not forget that for every copy of gaming video Battlefield 3 sold, Andy collects 14 pence (as he slyly told a youngster last night, urging him to get dad to buy a copy). Fingers and pies.

As always the evening was a fascinating insight into the life of one of our ex-Special Forces operatives. It’s such a pity that there is never enough time to ask all the questions that people long to know. Luckily, Andy’s lovely PR lady Laura passed on a number of my questions which he was kind enough to answer, so hopefully some of these will be the burning questions others would like to put to him. [Q&A coming soon in Part 2 ~GML]

Having met Andy three times now, two of the first things many people ask me is what does he look like, what’s he like as a person? I asked him how tall he is and which of Nick Stone’s ‘good bits’ of character are based on himself. With typical Puckish humour he informed me: ‘Good question. Far too good! Clearly anything that he (Nick Stone) does for the right reason is me and hopefully if you imagine him at 6 foot 5, blond hair, blue eyes, 4 foot wide, that is me.’ So there you have it, from the horse’s mouth. It’s all lies, of course.

I can confirm that he’s medium height, has salt/pepper hair, is physically fit, (which one would expect from someone who treks to the North and South Poles, and climbs in the Peruvian Andes), has blue eyes that can change from fire to ice in nanoseconds, is dripping with sex appeal and testosterone, and comes across as a chatty, friendly, and charming individual.

As a member of the audience pointed out, he’s also quite a humble man, especially when one considers his achievements. I would concur with this, but it was a curious comment as many people I’ve spoken with believe all the Special Forces men, including Andy, come across as somewhat arrogant. I suspect what many think of as arrogance is actually just a supreme confidence in their own highly developed skillset. Remember, these men train relentlessly – Train Hard / Fight Easy – and seem to live by the 7P rule – Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. While I know pretty much all there is to know about this man on the public arena, I haven’t the slightest idea what he’s like ‘for real’. Clearly, it behooves anyone in the public eye to behave with circumspection but Andy is probably the friendliest celeb I’ve met; cocky, but very down to earth and not afraid to call a spade a spade. What is particularly likeable about him is his obvious passion to promote reading and literacy: “If I can do it, anyone can.’ He’s also an incredibly good sport. Anyone who ever watched his interview with Holy Moly Man would have been itching to deck the cocky little pipsqueak conducting the interview, but Andy took all the ribbing in good part and played along nicely without once head butting aforementioned HMM.

~To be continued.


Video from Andy McNab’s Twitter account