Chapter 5: Homeward bound
The chopper and a medic arrived thirty minutes later and Red Troop carried Fletch on a stretcher placing it in the chopper ready for him to be evacuated to the medical centre at RAF Salalah.
“Take care Fletch I’m sure the medics will do a good job fixing you up pal, and you’ll be back on yer feet in no time, see you back at the base after we clean up this bloody mess, O! and by the way Fletch, I will be recommending you, via Blossom for a gong, and don’t say a dam word pal you deserve it for saving my arse, not that I think it’s worth saving sometimes, yer plonker!”said Bomber, just as the Army Air Corps pilot lifted off.
“Right you lot listen in,”, ordered Bomber “ We need to get this place cleaned up before we leave. Tiny and Dog this is all your ruddy mess, so you two throw a blanket over these three dead rebels, and load the bodies onto the back of Popeye so we can bury um back at the base. O! And Tiny don’t forget to cover up their faces, we may not like the little bastards very much but at least we can transport um in some kind of dignity OK.”
“OK Sarg!, Come on Dog pull yer ruddy finger out pal, and give me a lift with this corps onto the back of the tailboard yer big lug.” An hour later and ‘Red Troop’ pulled out of Jebel Ali and headed in the direction of the air base at RAF Salalah.
It was dusk by the time the troop covered the 75 klm to RAF Salalah and dropped off the rebel bodies at the makeshift base mortuary, but everyone was glad to eventually get back to the billet in one piece and get their heads down for the rest of the night.
First thing in the morning Bomber made a point ofwalking over to the medical centre to see how is pal Fletch was doing, but by the time he arrived he found that the rest of Red Troop had beat him to it, and were all gathered around Fletchers bed laughing and joking.
“Hey up Fletch how’s the leg old pal,” said Bomber, but before he had time to answer, the medical centre duty officer Captain Donaldson MD, stepped in ordering everyone out of the medical centre, stating that Corporal Fletcher needed to get some rest as they were due to operate on his shattered right leg within the hour.
“Bit of a bummer that Sarg,” said Rasher as the lads walked through the medical centre main door and out into compound, “Hope old Fletch comes out a this one Ok, still it looks like he’ll be getting a free trip back to Blyty no matter what happens Sarg, What do you recon?”.
“ It sure does look that way Rasher, but at least he’ll be out of this stinking hole and repatriated back home to the UK, I think he’s earned it anyway Rasher don’t you ?” said Bomber reluctantly.
‘Red Troop’ made their way back to the billet and gathered around the mess table, “Thought I’d let you all know in advance lads that Blossom has been given the all clear and is now on his way back to RAF Salalah”, said Bomber “He should be back on the base sometime before dinner, and has instructed me to give you lot the rest of the day off to chill out, so piss off and find something to do for the rest of the day and keep out of trouble is that clear!” “Thanks Sarg!” shouted Sick leave, and a loud cheer rang out around the room.
“O! and just one more thing before you bugger off lads, the O C wants a word with you all straight after super tonight. so make sure your back in the billet by 1800hrs, no excuses is that clear!” Shouted out Bomber.
Torchy, Bing, Rasher, and Sick Leave, decided to take ‘Popeye’ down to the local beach and do a spot of fishing, whilst Tiny and The Dog walked over to the all ranks club house, ‘The Wobbly Wheel’ and propped up the bar all afternoon.
By tea time Tiny and The Dog were a little worse for wear but managed to stagger back to the billet just before the OC turned up with Sergeant Hill, although by this time Tiny had slumped onto his bunk and passed out.
The OC walked into the billet accompanied by Sergeant Hill at 1800hrs bang on the dot. “Right lads all gather around the table there’s a few things I have to update you on. Firstly I would like to thank you all for a job well done whilst on patrol in Mirbat and Jebel Ali, and to inform you all of the following; On the reports received, and advice of Sergeant Hill, I have recommended Corporal( Fletch) Fletcher, to receive the M.M. ( Military Medal) for his brave action at the DG post on Jebel Ali. Corporal Fletcher by the way will sadly be leaving the troop to return to the UK for extensive treatment on his wounded right leg.”
Military Medal for bravery Dhofar Genral Service Medal
“ I have also recommended Corporal (Tiny) Lanham and Corporal (The Dog) Lang, for a MID.( Mentioned in Dispatches) for their courage and grenade attack on the rebel held DG post,” “Where is Tiny Lanham by the way!?” commented Blossom. “He’s catchin up on his..... bloooody....... beauty sleep.... ssSir!” shouted out The Dog, in adrunken slurred voice,and everyone burst out laughing, “Well let him know what’s been said when he decides to honour us all with his presence Dog,” commented the OC. and the room erupted in laughter.
“Anyway lads, to get back to what I was saying, all the rest of Red Troop have been given the Generals Commendation for bravery in the face of the enemy. WELL DONE RED TROOP! and keep up the good work,” stated the OC as he got up out of his chair and headed for the billet door.
“Ok listen in you lot,” shouted Sergeant Bomber Hill, Just as the OC left the billet and closed the door behind himself. “You’ve got away with a heck of a lot this time because Blossom was in a good mood, but let me warn you all now Red Troop, to take care in the future when your Officer Commanding walks into the room, and show him the respect he deserves. Is that abundantly clear to everyone in this room! I will not tell you again.” “Yes Sarg,!” piped up Red Troop sheepishly.
“Right you shower get yer heads down now because yer out on base perimeter patrol first thing in the morning, and I want to see you up and about at first light,” said Bomber as he left the billet.
The troop were given very little time to get their heads down before the Base alarm sounded and the Adoo rebels blasted the air field with another rocket attack, and everyone but Tiny and The Dog who were still fast asleep, and out like a light from the previous days drinking session, headed straight for the shelters.
The attack lasted for an hour but the rebels gave up when the Garrison Royal Artillery heavy guns opened up on the enemy positions. Woody, Torchy, Rasher, and Sick Leave, just couldn’t believe their eyes when they came back to the billet to climb into their bunks once again because Tiny and The Dog were still snoring away fast asleep, and had been completely oblivious to the rebel rocket attack.