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The Radiographers Tale

Capt Watson L/Cpl Crosthwaite   Cpl Eric Reach  Sgt Bob Atkinson Sgt Tom Dinnage
Resus Officer Clerk SEN Radiographer Lab Tech
Maj Mayes Sgt Pete Coombe Sgt Pete Townsend Cpl Sherwood SSgt Bob Sherherd Lt Col McNair
Surgeon OTT    OTT  OTT  SRN OC/Anaes.
Sgt Bob Atkinson was the radiographer in the FST that was in Salalah in late 1971; the only "craphat" amongst a bunch of Paras. He was from the Colchester Military Hospital and left the army in the summer after leaving Salalah.

He was one of those who kept a diary which is important as it describes a time that has not been too well recodred so far. This period covers October 1971 when "Op Jaguar" was launched.

I am indebted to him for transcribing it and making it available.
There were of course observations and reports about the war which were "above the pay scale" of those who were on the ground in the front line. Enclosed are Sitreps from 11/11/1971 and 15/12/1971 t and are placed just below Bob Atkinson's diary.
Following the diary there are a number of photographs including a very touching photograph of Hameed, a young child who was treated by the FST. There is also a photograph of a Flt Lt Rainbird whose scruffy desert boots contrast with his smart RAF hat. He nervously and uncertainly hefts an SLR around his ample midriff, probably for the very first time.





Weds 29/09/71

Arrived BFPO 66 at 0900 local

Straight in at the deep end the relieved team (RAF) said welcome – here it all is – Goodbye out on the same aircraft.

Within 30 minutes 6 Burns cases arrived after a stove exploded within a tent, Although the burns where extensive they were superficial.


Thurs 30/09/71

Quiet day spent clearing up and sorting out the FST to our requirements

I Patient – Injury to ankle


Fri 1/10/71

First operation Mine accident case from RAF FST X-Ray shows # below left knee

Another ankle to X-Ray

Appointed  official photographer


Sat 2/10/70

1st Battle casualty, Arab Civilian (believed to be enemy) GSW Chest Hip and Elbow also # lower end of Humerus


Sun 3/10/71

Off to work with a bang, Casualty arrived as we did,  Rocket casualty, shrapnel / GSW thigh and back

2nd casualty GSW Thigh, Bullet entered buttock exit above knee – no serious damage done

7 cases for x-ray

2 Cas, 5 CXRs


Mon 4/10/71

Visit to Hospital in Salalah town


Evening stood to:- to receive casualties

Eventually 5 cas arrived,

2 Deceased, 1 serious injuries (severe arm & facial injuries) upper arm amputation performed and facial injuries cleared up.


Tues 5/10/71

Woken for Cas incoming by chopper

Shot in abdomen VSI (Steve S/SGT BATT)

Op lasted six hours 22 pints blood given during the day

Meanwhile 3 other cas arrived

I Minor GSW to ankle,

II Compound Wrist #

III Through and through GSW shoulder which smashed the bone

  Steve’s condition causing concern overnight


Wed 6/10/71

Steve appeared better today, trying to arrange casevac soonest


Thurs 7/10/71

Steve due for casevac today

Further cas GSW Thigh smashed femur – OK after op.


Steve’s flight diverted ?


Fri 8/10/71

Steve died during flight Unpressurised aircraft used for casevac not VC 10 as promised.

One further casevac today.

2 more cas today – 1 GSW in the buttock other GSW ankle


Sat 9/10/71

Quiet start,

Sent down to Salalah to warn team of incoming casualties

3 Cas arrived:-

1 abdominal wound

II Knee and upper arm

III  Forearm

Subsequently warned to expect 6 more cas. 7 arrived at 1700

One deceased

1 Brit and 5 local soldiers

I GSW Wrist

II GSW Elbow

III GSW Shoulder

IV GSWs Shoulder and heel

V Shrapnel to Knee and Forearm

VI shrapnel wounds to Neck, heel and upper arm

Operating continued till 0130


Sun 10/10/71

Quiet day,

one routine CXR

One colles#

REME tech requested for MX4


Mon 11/10/71

One wrist x-ray

Med tech arrived from Cyprus and condemned MX4

One patient with appendicitis


Body of Deceased British Officer flown to Muscat


Wed 13/10/71

Quiet day Film and processing chemicals arrived from Cyprus,

SNAFU on Medivacs Refrigerated plane sent by the powers that be!!


Thurs 14/10/71

Changed X-Ray chemicals and put hardener in the fixer

Otherwise quiet day

Too good to last


Fri 15/10/71

0230 awakened incoming casualties

0530 Cas arrived, Mine injury

At Operation :- R Leg amputated, Repair to Scrotum, Unilateral orchidectomy and repair to perineum, Left leg looks bad may lose it.

Finished at 1300

1900 warning casualties x 8 incoming

2 critical and 6 others

Arrived at 2030

2 Critical DOA others:-

I child Penetrating wound to chest with Haemathorax, requiring thoracotomy

II Child multiple shrapnel wounds

III child penetrating wound to pelvis # Iliac crest and L V4

IV child shrapnel wounds

V female Shrapnel in back

VI female with through wound to buttock and thigh

Finished at 0100


Sat 16/10/71

0900 2 patients for X-ray, Then in drips for the morning

1900:  One CAS GSW Shoulder, simple in appearance, But

Bullet entered R Chest Damaged all 3 lobes of the lung, through the Diaphragm and liver eventually underneath the Liver deep to small bowel,

First thoracotomy I have witnessed.

Operation nearly did not get off the ground as his mates would not donate blood

Eventually operation was successful finished at 0200

Bullet was long nose 7.62 Heavy machine gun type



Sun 17/10/71

Later start following last Night

X-rayed the patient from last night (Hameed)

Then nothing till lunch, Sunbathed and then down to the pool


Mon 18/10/71

Another Quiet day

Radiographed the two thoracotomy patients

After lunch went to the pool


Tues 19/10/71

Nothing on the battle front again to day

Rained a fair amount in the afternoon and evening – all hands to the tents.


Weds 20/10/71

Quiet day once again

New x-ray set installed, needs a new tube, generator power still not high enough for the set


Thurs 21/10/71

One battle casualty today GSW in the arm and leg Speaks good English ( thought to be a deserter from the Trucial Oman Scouts S/Sgt) –Arm amputated and leg plastered.

In the evening 2 casualties from the merchant navy (? Razout)

One head injury one back injury


Fri 22/10/71

Ramadan started yesterday, things may be quieter for a while,

Our first day off.


Sat 23/10/71

Another quiet day.

Afternoon at the pool


Sun 24/10/71

One battle casualty, through and through GSW forearm with #Ulna, graze on thigh


Visit of the Chief of the General Staff


Mon 25/10/71

No Casualties today, spent the afternoon on the beach.


Tues 26/10/71

No battle casualties today spent the afternoon at the pool

One patient later in the evening, head Injury from a brawl at 22.30


Weds 27/10/71

No Battle casualties today

Siren ( Incoming) tested this pm


Thurs 28/10/71

No Casualties again today

Camp came under attack at 17.30 No rounds inside the perimeter of the camp

2 x 75mm rounds and one mortar round fired at Hedgehog bravo

One strikemaster damaged undercarriage on landing no injuries


Fri 29/10/71

Day off spent at pool


Sat 30/10/71

Nothing happening today, spent Morning spent at the pool

Afternoon spent waiting for nonexistent patient.


Sun 31/10/71

One Battle casualty stone chips only from a ricochet


Mon 1/11/71

One battle casualty (female) injured by a Zero rocket 8 hrs prior to arrival, with an almost complete traumatic amputation. Died on the table.


Tues 2/11/71

Quiet day, no casualties. Stood too pm for mine casualties. No injuries.


Wed 3/11/71

One casualty from yesterdays explosion arrived – no significant injuries.

New processing unit arrived.



Nil of note



2 Battle casualties this evening

i, a brit  chest and femoral wounds DOA (exanguinated) femoral wound missed before arrival

ii, an Arab ? firquat small piece of shrapnel in chest



Nil of note between 07// and 11/11/71


Thurs 11/11/71

2 Battle casualties today, both relatively minor wrist injuries


Fri 12/11/71

X-ray tent & pathology burnt down, everything completely destroyed.

New set of kit indented for.


Sat 13/11/71

Inquiry into cause of fire, not electrical may have been discarded cigarette into box of unused tent age


Sun 14/11/71

Today the big clear up after the fire,

I battle casualty, GSW in leg – Accidental discharge


Mon 15/11/71

All burmails replaced after the fire

Corps exams


Tues 16/11/71

Erected new marquee this am for X-ray & Path

I Battle cas pm GSW to skull through and through wound,

Op craniotomy 21/2 hours

Weds 17/11/71

Yesterdays CAS died at 03.00

Camp attacked twice today, no rounds arrived inside camp perimeter.

2 battle cas both mortar wounds to the leg


Thurs 18/11/71

X-rayed both yesterdays casualties, films taken to local hospital for development.

Both had shrapnel in limbs 3-4in from entrance wounds.


19,- 24/11/71

No entries.


Thurs 25/11/71

Most of new kit arrived, spent the morning assembling and installing, In the evening borrowed chemicals for processing unit.


Fri 26/11/71

Awakened 0600 by Tom 4 battle casualties expected in 20 mins,

Arrived 0730

i, Batt soldier GSW in buttocks

ii, GSW wrist, Badly damaged

iii, GSW groove across his back

iv minor injury

It would appear that the “Adoo” use explosive rounds


Sat 27/11/71

Patients improving after operation


Sun 28/11/71

One B/C this evening

Batt. soldier  with GSW to L buttock

X-ray shows bullet lodged beside sacrum 4in deep, looks as if it was deflected of coccyx


Mon 29/11/71

End of Ramadan, in the evening lots of celebratory rifle fire from town direction, some spent rounds landing on the Twynam roof, whilst sitting in the Sgts mess garden.


Tues 30/11/71

No Patients moved about 100 sandbags in the ambulance.


Weds 1 /12/71

Quiet day again


Thurs 2/12/71

Remains quiet


Fri 3/12/71

One casualty at 0750, shrapnel wounds to legs from grenade

Sat 4/12/71

Two casualties these evening from Mortar or rocket

Both Children


Sun 5/12/71

Quiet day


Mon 6/12/72

One battle casualty this am Grenade injury R upper Chest


 No Diary entries until 17/12/71


Fri 17/12/71

One casualty at 1300

GSW L shoulder no bullet in situ.


Sat 18 /12/71

Quiet day



One casualty in at 1630, Minor injury


Mon 20/12/71

Quiet day


Tues 21/12/71

In the middle of a Typhoon

8 Casualties arrived together

i, Head injury DOA

ii, Second head injury died on Table

iii, GSWs to Neck Pelvis and L arm

iv, GSWs to L arm, Forearm ankle & R thigh

v, GSWs across scapula incl. #

vi, GSW through forearm

vii, Bullet lodged in thumb

viii, Minor injuries

Operating finished at 1900

Camp came under fire at 2300 5 rounds RCL landed outside the perimeter


Wed 22/12/71

Quiet, still very windy


Thurs 23/12/71

Remains windy, Sgts mess draw in the evening


Fri 24/12/71

Padre in for X-ray nasal bones (fighting)


Sat 25/12/71 Christmas

Battle casualty at 1150, GSW back, bullet entered in midline over sacrum causing # also #R Ilium

2nd casualty at 16.30 Crushed hand.


Sun 26/12/71

No Casualties

Commenced clear up prior to handover to next team on 30 Dec.


Mon 27/12/71

Clear up continues

Mess Dinner with Sultans armed forces in SOAF HQ.


Tues 28/11/71

 As above


Weds 29/12/71

Mess farewell in the evening (Mas Salaam)

Presentation of ties etc.


Thurs 30/12/71

Hand over to next team. Incoming Radiographer Sgt Pete Blackburn

Then straight on to the C130 to overnight in Masirah


Fri 31/12/71

Masirah to Akrotiri to Overnight,

New Years eve.

Not allowed in the Mess as not in possession of “Mess Kit”


Sat 1/12/72

New year’s day

Akrotiri to Brize Norton and Home



After thoughts


Really great experience to have had, being part of such a small team, having to be a bit of jack of all trades  from Photographer to Stretcher Bearer, to Ambulance driver, to OTT etc


Quite a lot of down time amidst periods of extreme adrenaline.


Made me a little disillusioned with the Job at BMH Colchester, insufficient work to keep me gainfully employed. I decided that I wanted to work in a busier environment. Left the Corps in June 1972



From the Commander British Forces Gulf to the "Chief of Staff's Committee" on
"The War in Dhofar" on 11th November 1971
From the Chief of the Defence Staff to the Secretary of State
"The Situation in Dhofar" in 16th December 1971.
From the CSAF to various other officials in Oman . Section   "e.1"   refers to "Op Jaguar"
"An assessment of the Military Situation in February 1972"