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Obituary: Len Owens, SAS radio operator

Esteemed comrade of SAS hero Mayne

Former soldier Len Owens, who has died at 92, was an SAS radio operator who was once described by his CO in World War II, Ulsterman Blair 'Paddy' Mayne, as a real hero.

Lt-Col Mayne, from Newtownards, who was awarded the DSO plus three bars for his courage in action, had great respect for Liverpool man Owens, who served under him in the SAS.

Owens faced up to danger unflinchingly in Operation Howard, led by Blair Mayne.

He was in charge of wireless communications to a squadron of armoured jeeps at the front and was always likely to have his position discovered by the enemy.

And, on Mayne's recommendation, was awarded a Military Medal in occupied France when he was with the Phantom Liaison Regiment, with which he provided vital information at great risk to the SAS soldiers who were secretly in the country.

Owens, from Merseyside, and Mayne had a huge respect for one another's bravery and kept in touch when peace returned.

In fact, Owens said that it was a shame his CO had not received the Victoria Cross he deserved.

After the war he worked for ReDiffusion in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and then ran a news agency before becoming controller of social services in Teeside, a position from which he retired in 1995.

Len's wife Tess (Swart) pre-deceased him and he is survived by a son and a daughter.

Mayne, a solicitor in civvy street, died at 40 in 1955. He was a founder member of the SAS and at the height of WWII Hitler ordered that he must be killed.

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