incarnations of 55 FST illustrated in these pages were in
existence at what was arguably the height of the Cold War.
Edward Heath was Prime Minister in the UK whilst Nikolai
Podgorny was President of the USSR. In China the Cultural
Revolution was almost at an end and Mao Zedong's influence was
on the wane. Richard Nixon was the President of the USA. The
Vietnam War had three years to run. One of the important things
to remember when reading this website is that it presents
events that occurred in 1972. The politics, the practices and
technology were those of the early seventies and not those of
in Dhofar has
often been described as a "secret" war. This was a fair
observation at the time. No newspaper or television
reporters present and consequently nothing appeared in the
national media until a couple of column inches appeared on an
inside page in the Daily Telegraph a fortnight after
a successful rocket attack on RAF Salalah on the 8th of June
|The participation in the war by the SAS (Special Air Service) in
the form of BATT (British Army Training Team) who fought the
battle at Mirbat on the 19th of July 1972 are recorded in many
books about the regiment. Some of the pages on this website record the
brutal consequences of that battle , others as they make uncomfortable
reading or the photographs distressing viewing , are omitted.
|The consequences that the medic sees, remote
from combat, identify only loosely with the preceding actions
which are later described usually by those who took no part in
the affair. For the medic there is nothing of "the glorious
dead" about the "badybagged" delivered by the casevac helicopter.
Legs with protruding bones and shredded by mines are not "heroic
wounds". The horrific reality of combat that piles up at the
door of the FST is sanitised in non-medical accounts in the
newspapers with a
brief "and fourteen soldiers were wounded". It looks better
that way for the folks at home. It is even harder, when the subjects of that
violence, are aware that what they are subject to and what they
are fighting for may not be
publicly acknowledged by their political masters who
"volunteered" them for these duties.
|(It is seven years since this was written and there have been
a number of television programmes in the intervening time which
have dramatically shown film footage of combat in Afghanistan
with its attendant injuries, casualty evacuation and treatment.
There have also been a number of books published about both that
war and other wars;
Medic is an essential read for anyone
interested in the immediate treatment of the wounded over
The secrecy over the war in Dhofar was entirely for political
reasons. The British had recently left Aden and the Gulf. The
Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen and the dissidents fighting
in Dhofar were now being supported by both the Chinese and the
Russians. The British had long been involved with Oman and had
been pivotal in the overthrow of Sultan Said bin Taimur in 1970
and the establishment of Qaboos bin Said on the throne.
It was a time when suddenly the country had significant revenues from
oil and a time when Omanis were envious of the standards of
living in other oil rich nations in the Gulf. The PDRY backed
insurgents in Dhofar flourished.
Under the leadership of the new
Sandhurst trained sultan Oman did as it had done before and
turned to Britain for military aid. There was an opportunity
both for the British to prevent the spread of communism to yet
another country and for the British to sell the Omanis support
in the form of both military personnel and armaments.
also secret because it was in
a relatively remote region of the world. Mail to BFPO in Germany took a
week and a half there and a week and a half back. Mobile phones
would not be available for another twenty years. Electronic
Newsgathering was in its infancy. Reliance was placed upon teleprinter and CW. The nearest
fellow RAMC anaesthetist was ten hours flying time away in
|There has been a slew of books in
recent years about the war many concentrating on the battle at Mirbat.
It is all to easy to focus on this one event yet it is most important to
acknowledge that many different "teeth" arms and support arms took part
in the war.
|It was exciting to
be involved in such an enterprise but there was an underlying
belief that if it had not been successful it would not have been difficult
for our political masters to deny the true extent of British
Date the page was last modified : -
29 January 2015 09:17