The David Stirling Memorial, sometimes also called the SAS Memorial, has stood since 2002 on the Hill of Row, near Sir David's ancestral home, looking towards the mountains of the southern Highlands. The B824, from Doune to Junction 11 on the M9, runs past it, and as a result it is easy to find and visit.
Colonel Sir David Stirling, OBE, DSO, lived from 15 November 1915 to 4 November 1990. He was a Scottish landowner, a keen mountaineer, World War II army officer, and founder of the Special Air Service. Archibald David Stirling was born at the family home of Keir House three miles south east of Doune. The estate now sits immediately to the west of the north end of the M9 motorway. His father was Brigadier General Archibald Stirling of Keir and his mother was Margaret Fraser, who in turn was a daughter of Lord Lovat. Stirling was educated at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire and Trinity College, Cambridge.
At the start of World War II Stirling enlisted in the Scots Guards. In June 1940 he volunteered for the newly-formed No.8 Commando under Lt. Col. Robert Laycock. His unit was disbanded on 1 August 1941, leaving a frustrated Stirling convinced that there was an unrealised opportunity for a small, highly motivated and mobile force to cause considerable damage to the enemy.
Stirling's determination led to the formation of a unit with the deliberately confusingly named, "L Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade" to help bolster a deception that the British had a parachute brigade based in North Africa. In initial raids SAS troopers were dropped off near their targets by the Long Range Desert Group and then attacked at night on foot. In early 1942 Stirling acquired a number of heavily armed jeeps to allow the SAS to carry out attacks much more swiftly. His commander at the time, Field Marshal Montgomery, was quoted as saying: "The boy Stirling is quite mad, quite, quite mad. However, in a war there is often a place for mad people."
David Stirling was captured by the Italians in January 1943. He escaped four times before being sent by the Germans to Colditz Castle, where he was to spend the rest of the war. In the 15 months up to his capture, the SAS had destroyed over 250 enemy aircraft on the ground, plus hundred of vehicles, and a huge quantity of stored supplies. Sir David Stirling was knighted in 1990. He died the same year, and was buried at St Cumin's Church, on the shores of Loch Morar at Morar. You can find our fuller biography of Sir David Stirling here.
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