HE was trained to kill with the most famous regiment in the world. But Jerry Mulcahy’s softer side played a part in the legend of the SAS B Squadron’s bear. The secret of the bear paw on the elite unit’s insignia dates back 60 years after he parachuted into the Malayan jungle and broke his back and ended up being foster dad to a honey bear cub.
The 1958 hush-hush mission to quell an uprising went painfully wrong for Mr Mulcahy, but he was still to play a part in a regiment folklore.
The 82-year-old widower, who has six grandchildren and eight great grandchildren, said: “I was in the Paras at 17 and then transferred to SAS after passing selection which as everyone knows is tough.
“I did six and a half years with the SAS before being medically discharged thanks to hitting a tree 200ft up and this rotten branch snapping.
“When I was eventually rescued I was taken to base camp on a home-made stretcher aboard a helicopter.
“It was found my back was broken. To cheer me up a bloke called Tommo (Trooper Peter Thompson) handed me the bear cub which was not much more than six inches long that he’d found abandoned for safe keeping.”
Trooper Thompson had found the bear hiding in a hole while on patrol and adopted it as natives warned its mother would kill it after having contact with humans.
He and Mr Mulcahy then looked after Chieftan, with him even accompanying them to drinking dens in Kuala Lumpur.
Mr Mulcahy added: “I was in a lot of pain in a corset.
“The bear, which we called Chieftan after the jungle operation, cheered me up no end as I tried to get better. He raised our spirits at a dangerous time.
“There is no way he could return to the wild because he’d have been rejected as he had been touched by humans.