Mick Malone is about to publish a biography of SAS hero Ray Simpson VC, simply called Simmo. The book will be officially launched on Sunday November 1 and available through Imprimatur Books and selected book stores.
You get a sense of why Simmo was such a tough nut when you hear how hard his early life was
“born in tough conditions in inner Sydney in 1926, then into a boy's home and indentured labourer as an eleven year old”…and all that before heading off to WWII aged 18. We can’t get our hands on the book yet, but here’s some basic information about Ray Simpson from the Australian War Memorial.
In 1989, Mick Malone was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for excellence in leadership and training during his time as Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) of the 1st Commando Regiment 1987-88.
Mick’s business is called Imprimatur Books and specialises in old and rare military books . He runs it with his wife, artist Jo Malone. He also wrote SAS – A Pictorial History of the Australian Special Air Service 1957-1997 in commemoration of the regiment’s 40th anniversary.
In the podcast, Mick mentioned some academic research by his wife Jo Malone that showed that no-one went to Vietnam against their will. This research was done as part of a course Jo was studying at Murdoch university under the late Professor Geoffrey Bolton. She summarized the research like this:
"Bottom line is that conscripts were given a choice. It was not mandatory. I knew many who said 'no' and did their national service within Australia. However, peer group pressure, community expectation and the idea of a very big adventure meant that many chose to go. There was a very strong perception in the community that conscription meant you were compelled to go to Vietnam. I think for some it has become their memory or maybe they feared the consequences of saying no, or felt they didn't have a choice, but officially they did."
Mick was interviewed about the aftermath of being in Vietnam for a Department of Veteran’s Affairs site called Australia and the Vietnam War. You can watch it here.
An updated official documentary on the SASR (Special Air Services Regiment) was launched on September 3, 2015. It’s an eleven part series called The Australian SAS: the Untold History, first released in 2012 and 20 years in the making. It contains a few stories that will make you reassess Mick Malone’s very matter-of-fact approach to the regiment’s work.
The motto of the SAS is “Who Dares Wins”. It is an elite unit that requires additional diplomacy and resourcefulness in highly pressured situations.