William Alexander Maguire

Personnel header
Private William Alexander “Paddy” Maguire
Life dates
12 Sep 1915 - 08 Apr 1999
Profile Picture
Profile picture
Caption & credit
William Alexander "Paddy" Maguire (David Blair/Pegasus journal)

Bill Maguire was Captain Bradford's batman. He had apparently enlisted in a Scottish regiment and seems to be wearing a Glengarry in the Scout Section's unit photo, though at the time he was serving in the Royal Army Service Corps. He was an Army child and had grown up in India, with his father and grandfather apparently serving in Irish regiments.

He was born in Omagh in Ulster and joined the Army on the outbreak of War, leading to his inevitable Army nickname. He went to France with the Royal Army Service Corps and returned via Dunkirk in 1940. He described himself as having something of a disciplinary record, apparently twice being reduced back to Driver from higher rank.

He recalled that the Section often did not wear uniform, particularly if training. They made a point of staying away from Upton Pyne village so as not to be recognised after they went to ground by any of the locals. He was driver to Captain Bradford as part of his role. He also delivered equipment to Patrols across Devon and Cornwall. Once while on this duty, driving an unmarked Austin car, he was stopped and questioned. Following previous instructions he declined to provide any information about why he should be carrying explosives and (then) brand new Sten guns around the country, but provided a number to call. He was beaten up for his lack of cooperation and thrown in a cell for the night. The next morning, a rather pale and sheepish officer released him. This officer had called the number provided and had been told by a senior officer to release Maguire without delay.

When the Scout sections were reduced he went to an Royal Army Service Corps unit with the 45th Division.

He joined Roy Bradford again in early 1944 as he became a member of the SAS, but wasn't with him when he died as he was on another operation at the time. After the war he returned to Devon and married a Thoverton girl, Nancy Elisa Gilpon, at Tiverton in 1945. He is said to have kept himself to himself and did not talk about his wartime service at all.

After the war, he attended many reunions with the SAS Association. At one of these a heated discussion arose about who had been first to join the SAS. Paddy proved a date prior to the accepted founding date of the Regiment, based on his Auxiliary Units service. The following week he was visited by 4 men, 2 in uniform and 2 in plain clothes, who made it very clear he was to say nothing more about his Auxiliary Units service. 

Unit or location Role Posted from until
Devon Scout Section Scout Section Member Unknown Unknown
Operation Houndsworth SAS combatant 22 Jun 1944 24 Sep 1944
The Royal Army Service Corps
Commissioned or Enlisted

Post war - lorry driver

(1970) Cleaver Close, Thorverton, Devon
Other information

It was over 50 years after the war before Paddy spoke about what he did. He met with Keith Badman, Geoff Bradford and author Arthur Ward in a pub in the village and took the chance to speak freely and reveal all that he had held in for half a century. This account is based largely on the recollections of those present that day.



Geoff Bradford

David Blair/ Obituary in Pegasus, Journal of the Parachute Regiment

Keith Badman (Dartmoor Local History Day 17 Jun 2023)

Torbay Express and South Devon Echo 30 October 1970