SAS founding father's Purdey shotguns blast to £42,000 in London

A pair of Purdey shotguns once owned by Colonel William Stirling, one of the two brothers who founded the SAS, were sold yesterday (December 8) for £42,000 at Bonhams Sporting Gun Sale in Knightsbridge.

Colonel William Stirling formed 2 Special Air Service in 1943, after his brother David, the original founder of the SAS was captured.

The pair of 12-bore self-opening sidelock ejector guns by J. Purdey & Sons had been offered for sale with an estimate of £18,000 to £25,000.

Colonel William Stirling's pair of Purdey shotguns

The makers confirmed that the guns were completed in 1949 for Colonel W. Stirling, and were rebarrelled by the makers in 1975. They have remained in the same family since new.

William Stirling was the eldest son of Brigadier Archibald Stirling of Keir, and was educated at Ampleforth College and Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in 1932. He joined the Scots Guards, and during the Second World War commanded 62 Commando before forming 2 Special Air Service in May 1943 in Philippeville, Algeria - four months after the capture of his brother David in Tunisia.

David Stirling, known as the founder of the SAS, sold the concept of a small active unit working behind enemy lines to army chiefs. After a rocky start it proved its value with many significant actions to its credit.

The guns were estimated at £18,000 to £25,000

2 SAS saw service in both Sicily and Italy before returning to Britain in 1944, where both of the SAS regiments were joined with two French and one Belgian unit to form the SAS Brigade of the Army Air Corps which was then deployed during the Normandy invasion, working behind the lines up until the end of the war, when they were disbanded.

William Stirling later became Honorary Colonel of the Scots Guards.


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