The view held back on the dismal
north German plain and in the UK was that 55FST
was something of a swan and that we spent most of our
time on the beach under the coconut palms.
It did not
help that it was a "secret war" and was kept so
as journalists were discouraged. It was long before
the days of electronic newsgathering. Mobiles were
the stuff of the "Eagle" and Dan Dare. Whilst morale was
undoubtedly high this was in spite of the lack of
political acknowledgement of our presence in Oman
One event that cracked the shell of secrecy was the RCL
attack on the officers mess at RAF Salalah; regular
British officers as opposed to seconded or contract
officers were injured and someone told the
Those back at home appeared
to resent being "oncall" every other day whilst, as they
knew perfectly well, we were unquestionably sunning
ourselves on the beach. It was quite hard to persuade
them otherwise. Salalah was a "detachment" rather than a
"posting" from the parent unit so
leave when we returned was going to be hard to come
by. There was of course the lighter side of the
On a more reflective note it was deflating to return
from a war that no one knew or cared about to those
whose only interest was how soon you could slot back
into the "oncall" rota so that they could have a bit of
time off. Adjustment to normal routine in Rinteln was
made easier as there had been two of us from there out
in Salalah together.
The Dhofar War still remains a largely unknown, but
successful war, which has been described as the "Last
Great Colonial War".
fairness to those back on the north German plain having
one of their aneathetists detached and taken away from
the hospital was very bad news indeed.
BMH Rinteln was the specialist referral centre for the
other hospitals in BAOR and as a consequence was very
busy. It had about 200 beds including a paediatric ward
and a maternity unit which had about 1500 deliveries a
There were usually three anaesthetists. A consultant, a
middle grade anaesthetist and a trainee. The two
operating theatres ran two sessions twice a day and
maternity and other emergencies were fitted in somehow.
I sat near an orthopaedic surgeon at a wedding in 2010
who ventured the opinion that he knew it must have been
very boring only dealing with fit young men.
I recalled the occasional neonatal anaesthetics, the
frequent anaesthetics in babies for squints to be
realigned, the numerous anaesthetics in children and
adults for ENT, dental and facio-maxillary procedures.
Gynaecological, obstetric anaesthesia and analgesia as
well as anaesthesia for general surgery and orthopaedic
surgery in both our army population and their sometimes
The anaesthesia for patients wounded in the head, chest
or abdomen with traumatic blast amputations of their
limbs was also something of a challenge with the limited
facilities at hand. He of course proclaimed otherwise.
The webmaster was the middle grade anaesthetist and at
the time of going out to Salalah had had six months of
training at Millbank followed by two years experience at
BMH Rinteln. Responsibility for Rinteln whilst the
consultant was on leave and the nearest consultant was
forty miles up the road in Hanover compared favourably
with Salalah where the next army consultant was in