Jock Lewes had excelled as a leader during the 1930s. He knew how to manage and lead diverse groups of sportsmen as President of Oxford University Boat Club which then ended 13 successive wins by Cambridge University in 1937. Olympic oarsmen and Oxford's second team, Isis, strongly developed under his leadership. Jock planned to row at the Tokyo Olympics in 1940. In 1938, Jock Lewes was also supporting Lord Lloyd in the fledgeling British Council, managing lecture tours that promoted Democratic methods of government; Jock worked alongside Lord Lloyd to successfully persuade Portugal to remain neutral when war broke out. He thought extremists were 'nitwits'; he ridiculed Moseley's Blackshirts by removing Moseley's fascist flag from the Blackshirt's Oxford headquarters. 


Military Significance of Jock Lewes


Jock Lewes pioneered a small group of commandos which he trained and managed in order to destroy enemy planes and fuel dumps in May 1941 before the SAS was fully operational. As David Stirling wrote, 'Jock could far more genuinely claim to be the founder of the SAS than I.' Most Commandos in North Africa were not being tested in 1941 with fighting or training challenges. Jock Lewes was proactive and led the way to making a significant contribution to solving the problem of how to disrupt Rommel's vital supply lines and at the same time increase the likelihood of British air supremacy. 


In 1941-2 success in the World War against the Nazis was dependant on British supremacy in North Africa. Churchill could only fully plan his strategy in other theatres of war based on success against Rommel. Five months before the official start-date of the SAS, Jock Lewes had already devised operations to destroy Axis aerodromes with his training and tactics that we now associate with his creation of the SAS. That is why from September 1941, the first month of the organisation of the SAS Brigade, Stirling could only make the SAS a reality with Jock's leadership; he regarded Jock as the greatest training officer that the British possessed.


By October 1941, Jock gave his more elaborately trained men 'teeth' when he developed the Lewes Bomb - this enabled the SAS to destroy half the enemy planes with 60 SAS men that the whole RAF could destroy in a day. By November, 90% of shipping bound to relieve Malta was at the bottom of the Mediterranean. Plentiful supplies of fuel had been reaching reaching Rommel's Panzer Army.


Churchill wrote to Auchinlech in November saying that stopping the fuel for Rommel would be part of the "decisive action" for British strategy. That month, while several of Jock's officers blew up complete enemy airfields with Lewes Bombs and training, Jock led, in a textbook daylight raid into an Axis camp full of tankers, three vehicles behind his own Italian Lancia. Jock wasn't simply disabling Rommel's fuel supplies in a critical moment in the war, he was showing his men that with such daring they could show the Axis that it was the British not the Nazis who controlled the desert. 


The SAS made a significant contribution to denting the confidence of Axis in the important months of preparation for victory over Rommel in 1942. SAS tactics continued to wear down the enemy before total victory in World War Two. Jock Lewes gave the SAS a job and the globe's Special Forces continue to be moulded around his concepts of minimising conflict, surprise, stamina, physical endurance and technical skills in the art of war. Jock Lewes understood the significance of winning the psychological war against the enemy.