Special Forces Club
|Motto||Spirit of Resistance|
|Founder||Major-General Sir Colin Gubbins KCMG DSO MC|
|Type||Private members club|
|Purpose||Established for former personnel of the Special Operations Executive and associated special forces groups|
|Anne, Princess Royal (Patron)|
The Special Forces Club (SFC) is a private members club located in Knightsbridge, London. Initially established in 1945 for former personnel of the Special Operations Executive, members of wartime resistance organisations, the Special Air Service, Special Boat Service and First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, its membership now includes those who had served, or were serving, in organisations and units closely associated with special operations and the intelligence community.
Foundation and membership
The club was intended by its founders to be a meeting place for both those who had served in the SOE and for members of kindred organisations. This tradition has continued, with the club maintaining a close relationship with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS); like-minded groups in Australia, Canada and New Zealand; along with the successors of European and other resistance organisations.
Unlike many other clubs that were open only to men and officers, the SFC has always welcomed all ranks and men and women, reflecting the membership and spirit of the SOE.
The club's membership is drawn primarily from the intelligence and security communities, both military and civilian, and Special Forces along with other organisations and individuals whose work reflects the ethos of the club such as high threat bomb disposal experts. Great stress is placed on the personal qualities of applicants along with their technical qualifications to ensure that the club maintains its reputation as one of the most discreet locations in London. Current membership includes a number of holders of the Victoria Cross and George Cross.
The Club is famous for its collection of photographs of members of SOE and OSS and those from the post war era. Those members killed in action have their photograph framed in black. There is also a collection of prints and original paintings reflecting the background of the membership.
The club has undergone a radical transformation in terms of its business practices to ensure its efficient administration and has a very active programme of guest speakers and events. In 2015 the Club celebrated its 70th Anniversary and 75th Anniversary of the founding of the SOE with a major dinner and reception at the Natural History Museum (SOE Station XVb during the War) attended by the Club's patron Anne, Princess Royal and the Crown Princes of Norway and Denmark plus 850 members and guests including veterans of the SOE and OSS.
In recent years the Club has refurbished its bar and dining room and there is a rolling programme of improvements to the bedrooms and other facilities.
There is a long-standing tradition whereby overseas members support renovations. The Danes were responsible for a bedroom in memory of Ebbe Munck, who initiated the armed resistance movement in Denmark, the US created the Donovan Room in memory of William J. Donovan, the wartime head of the OSS, and the Dutch renovating the Prince Bernhard Room. There are also rooms named the Australian Room, the Belgian Room, the Polish Room and the Canadian Room redecorated by members from those countries. The Norwegians refurbished the Linge Room, named for Martin Linge, the founder of the wartime Linge Company, and have made other generous donations.