Chapter 4: Seek out the Enemy
Mirbat Fort and Garrison
“Hold on Sir, Mirbat Garrison in sight now, soon have the army medics fixing you up as good as new again,” “ Thanks Sergeant Hill, don’t forget to fly some kind of white flag from the Land Rovers Ariel, for the Garrison guard to see, and get Sick Leave to radio through to the Garrison to tell them were coming in, just in case they mistake us for the rebel forces and open fire, we don’t want any more fun and games Bomber,” said Blossom leaning over the Land Rover dashboard and just barely hanging onto consciousness.
“Did you hear that Sick Leave ?” shouted Bomber over the sound of the Land Rovers engine.
“Yes Sarg”, replied Sick Leave, “Well bloody get on with it then!, and get that message sent sharpish Sick Leave before we have two vehicles full of ruddy bullet holes,!” Shouted out Bomber, whilst pulling the vehicle over to the side of the road and stopping just in sight of the Mirbat Garrison base.
“What’s up Sarg !”, shouted Fletch whilst climbing out of Popeye’s driver’s seat. “See if you can find something that will do as a white flag to tie to both vehicle aerials Fletch, and look sharp about it, If were seen I don’t want the Garrison to think that they might be under attack again.”
“Yer can use my white shirt that’s in me kit bag Sarg.” Shouted out Sick Leave from the rear of the lead vehicle trying his best to be helpful, whilst at the same time operating the radio.
“What you doing we a white shirt in yer kit bag Sick Leave, were not on summer vacation yer big pansy!,” commented The Dog grinning all over his face whilst looking in the rear of Popeye for any kind of white material to use as a flag.
“That will do nicely Sick Leave, good thinking lad, unfortunately were going to have to tear it in half so we can use it for both vehicles, sorry lad!, although thinking about it I don’t think it’s going to do you much good out here, cos the base don’t run a weekly night disco unfortunately.” stated Bomber sarcastically.
Bomber tied the two halves of Sick Leave’s white shirt to each vehicles Ariel, and then climbed back into the lead vehicle and headed straight for the Garrisons main entrance followed closely by the lads in Popeye.
“Hope you’ve sent that signal Sick Leave.” Shouted Bomber as he drove at top speed towards the base. “Yes Sarg no problem, they now know were coming in,” said Sick Leave, pulling the radio ear phones off his ears and hanging them around his neck.
The heavily armed Garrison Regimental Police Staff at The Mirbat base guardroom main entrance, waved Bomber straight through into the base compound, closely followed by Popeye the rear Land Rover shutting the main gate behind them.
The medical centre had been pre warned by Sick Leave on the vehicle radio as to the nature of his O.C.s injuries, and were already waiting outside the medical centre with a stretcher just as Bomber drove into the base.
The base doctor, Major Tyler M.D. wasted no time in rushing Captain Flowers into the medical centre where a drip had already been set up, and a blood transfusion was administrated, before sending him into a side ward to recover.
“How’s the O.C. doing doc,?” said Bomber “As well as can be expected Sergeant Hill, but he was lucky not to take a bullet through the skull, he should make a full recovery after a few days rest, so you can tell Red Troop to stop worrying now”, stated Major Tyler.
Two days later ‘Red Troop’ were sent out again on patrol this time without Captain Flowers who was still recovering from his injuries.
Sergeant Hill took charge of the lead vehicle, and Corporal Jack Fletcher was put in charge of the men travelling in (Popeye) the follow up vehicle. The aim of the mission was to seek out pockets of Adoo Rebels who were still active in and around Mirbat and the surrounding hill side, and report any rebel positions via radio link to the main HQ at RAF Shalalah.
Strike master jet aircraft from the Sultans air force would then be scrambled to attack the enemy and send a barrage of rockets and machine gun fire down to wipe out the enemy position.
The SAS were also active alongside the Sultans Omani ground troops seeking out the now dispersed Adoo rebels. The rebel attack by 400 Adoo rebels on the Mirbat fort had been a disastrous failure, and the enemy had lost at least 75% of their fighters who were now either dead or wounded. After the battle 38 dead Adoo rebels were brought in but at least another 80 were killed, and the enemy never tried to attack in force again.
Meanwhile it was still a very dangerous situation for the British and Omani troops because the pocket of rebels that had regrouped had once again returned to their old tactics of intermediate rocket and terrorist attacks on the British Garrison Base at Mirbat and RAF Shalalah.
‘Red Troop’ moved out at dawn and headed for the barbed wire perimeter and the surrounding small hillsides of Jebel Ali which was situated 1,000 meters to the north of Mirbat. Jebel Ali provided a co- coordinating feature which protected the town and surrounding coastal area.
Before the 19th July 1972 and the attack on the BATT Fort, the post had been manned by the Dhofar Gendarmerie (DG) but were all killed when they were overrun by The Adoo rebels.
Bomber was hoping to come across any remaining rebel groups that may still be congregating in this area, and ‘Red Troop’ was now well armed and prepared for any snipers or surprise attacks by the Adoo rebel force.
By midday the two vehicles were now approaching the old DG post on Jebel Ali and following previous vehicle tracks in the hard baked desert sand, although not actually driving over them due to hard lessons learned from previous military vehicles which had been blown sky high after running over buried enemy mines.
Bomber pulled over to the side of the track leading to the old post so that he could observe it from a distance by looking through Blossoms field glasses which he always kept handy in the glove compartment of the lead Land Rover. Fletch pulled up directly behind him in Popeye, and climbed out of the driving seat after giving the rest of the troop orders to stay close to the vehicles and keep their weapons handy ready for any unpredictable rebel attacks.
“See anything out there Sarg!” said Fletch as he approached Bomber from behind the lead vehicle. “ Looks and sounds a bit too quite around the old GD post for my liking Fletch”, said Bomber apprehensively.
“Do you want me to send a couple of the lads on ahead on foot to check out the post Bomb”, replied Fletch. “Good idea pal, send Torchy and Bing, but tell them to approach the post with extreme caution and for God sake remind them to keep their bloody heads down.”
“Can I go with Torchy Sarg,” Piped up Woody excitedly ! who was now sitting in the rear of the lead Land Rover with the LMG laying across his lap. “Don’t be bloody silly Woody, the troop need you to cover their arses with the bloody LMG yer dizzy Mary!”
No sooner had Torchy and Bing set off along the track towards the DG post, than a rifle shot hit the side of the lead Land rover with an almighty crash of shattered glass, sending Bomber, Fletch, Torchy and Bing scurrying for cover. “Take cover lads and concentrate your fire on the DG post, I think some of the little bastards are dug in around that area and mean business!” cried out Bomber anxiously.
Everyone by this time had taken up cover positions behind the two Land Rovers and were now concentrating their fire power on the DG post, bullets were flying thick and fast in every direction which was causing dust to rise as the bullets rick shaded off the sandstone walls of the post.
Bomber told Fletch he was going to take a chance and make a run to where Torchy and Bing where being pinned down in a small ditch at the side of the track , because he was worried that the rebels would open up on the two lads with a mortar shells or possibly a grenade attack.
“Don’t be stupid Bomber you’ll never make it!” screamed Fletch in desperation, but his words fell on deaf ears, and Bomber made a mad dash towards Torchy and Bing’s position, but then all hell broke loose and enemy fire was suddenly concentrated directly at Bomber, who had only managed to make it a few yards away from the vehicles before diving to the ground spread eagled on the road surface, with enemy bullets hitting the hard sand and splintering all around him in every conceivable direction.
Fletch knew it was only a matter of time before his pal Bomber was hit by a rebel bullet because he had now left himself in a very vulnerable position lying out on the open road in full view of the enemy. Without thought for his own safety Fletch made a mad lurch towards Bomber, spreading his own body across Bombers back to protect him from the now intense enemy fire.
Two bullets immediately slammed into Fletchers right leg with such force that it made him cry out in painful agony, but against all the odds and whilst still bleeding badly from his wounds, managed to drag himself and his pal Bomber back behind the front of the lead Land Rover and temporarily out of enemy fire and danger.
“Bloody fool Fletch!” screamed Bomber at his pal as he tore off the sleeve of his army shirt to make a tourniquet for Fletchers badly bleeding leg, which by now was causing Fletch a great deal pain. “Thanks for saving my life anyway yer stupid bugger, I suppose you’ll expect me to buy you a cold beer in the bloody mess now yer silly sod, anyway Fletch just hang on in there buddy whilst we can call for backup,” cried out Bomber.
“Sick Leave, climb into the back of the Lead Land Rover and radio Command HQ to send a Strike plane to rocket attack grid reference 784932, lets clear out these little bastards once and for all, and don’t forget to keep yer bloody head down Sick Leave,” shouted Bomber angrily.“Where’s Tiny Lanham and The Dog, Sick Leave ?” “They said they were going to sneak around to the back of the post Sarg and drop a pineapple in the rebels lap, according to Tiny”. “ Bloody Hell! will they never learn to obey orders, now I’ll have to give um extra time to get back before I call for a strike plane, better hold off on that call to HQ Sick Leave ’just make it when I next tell yer too OK.” Commented Bomber.
An almighty explosion was heard coming from the direction of the DG post, and all of a sudden the rebel firing ceased. Tiny could be heard in the distance shouting out to Torchy and Bing who had already clambering to their feet, and were now walking back towards the two stationary Land Rovers.
“Got the bleeding little bastards!, everybody Ok ? ,” shouted out The Dog with a big cheesy grin on his hard rough sunburned face as he walked from the direction of the DG post to were both the Land Rovers stood stationary.
“ Forget that call to HQ Sick Leave, reference the strike plane, and ask them to send a medic and chopper ASAP to recover Corporal Fletcher,” called out Bomber.