Memorial to be built in honour of Laurieston SAS soldier

A memorial is to be created in honour of a man who played a part in one of the most famous counter-terrorism operations in British history.

Thursday, 9th July 2020, 1:52 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th July 2020, 2:09 pm

John McAleese, of Laurieston, was among the Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers who stormed the Iranian Embassy in London in May 1980 after six armed men took 26 people hostage.

The gunmen, members of the Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan, demanded autonomy for the southern Iranian province of Khuzestan and sought the release of prisoners captured during the Iranian Revolution of 1979, plus their own safe passage out of the UK.

Following a tense six-day siege, and the death of a hostage, the government decided a safe passage would not be granted.

John McAleese MM Commemoration Society members, including John's twin brother William (back left). Picture: Snaphammy Photography.
John McAleese MM Commemoration Society members, including John's twin brother William (back left). Picture: Snaphammy Photography.

McAleese and his fellow SAS soldiers then launched their assault, rescued the remaining hostages and killed five of the hostage-takers during a 17-minute raid.

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Ancre Somme Association (ASA) Scotland has received planning permission to build a memorial bust McAleese’s home village by next August.

The Armed Forces charity has formed a John McAleese MM Commemoration Society to deliver the project, which needs to raise £50,000 within the next six months.

Ex-SAS soldier Rusty Firmin, who was also involved in the Iranian Embassy siege, is the society patron leading the UK-wide campaign.

He said: “I spoke to the McAleese family, we formed the society, we discussed our mission and we are now ready to launch our UK fundraising appeal.

“We will build a fitting memorial for John’s family and for the community.”

Councillor Pat Reid, who is a Laurieston resident, also welcomed the move.

He said: “John was part of a very famous event – it was remarkable.

“I think he is well overdue public recognition.”

ASA Scotland chairman John Jenkins said: “Our charity has commissioned the fantastic sculptor Helen Runciman to produce a fitting memorial bust which will be built beside the village’s war memorial.

“Many of us will remember watching the 22 SAS ‘Operation Nimrod’ on our TV screens.

“These men are British heroes, the Special Air Service are heroes. We will remember them.”

McAleese died in his early 60s in Greece in 2011.

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