Chapter 8: A letter from Julie
Four days later Bomber received a letter from his wife stating that she had been to visit Corporal Fletcher in the Cambridge Military Hospital in Aldershot as requested, and he was as well as could be expected in his present condition, but was now waiting for the plastic surgeon to repair some of the damaged tissue to his right leg.
Bomber was pleased to hear that his pal Fletch was doing fine, and informed all the lads in Red Troop when he walked over to the troop accommodation billet for a briefing with regard to their next mission.
“Good news about Fletch Sarg, it was really nice of your misses to pay him a visit at the hospital, let’s hope he makes a full recovery and manages to walk properly again,” said Torchy, whilst handing Bomber a cup of steaming red hot tea, which he’d just brewed up from an old electric kettle that the lads had brought with them from Cherry Tree Camp in Colchester.
“What’s on the agenda to night for you lads,” shouted out Bomber whilst sitting on the end of Corporal Bing Crosby’s bed, with his tea in one hand and rolling a cigarette with other. “I think The Dog and some of the lads are going down to the RAF Police Club to get oiled Sarg,” said Rasher. “ All the guys usually pull up a chair against the club windows, so that they can watch the Royal Artillery Gun Battery’s illuminated display when they fire of a few hundred rounds at the Jebel Sarg.”
“Is that the best you lot can find to do, I think it would be better served if you all got yer bloody heads down ready for your little jolly in the morning, don’t you”. Cried out Bomber putting his half drunk cup of tea on the table and heading for the billet front door.
“By the way Woody,” shouted out Bomber, just before closing the billet door behind him. “This time don’t forget to put the bloody bayonet in the lead vehicle passenger side door compartment, I don’t want to be stuck out in the middle of Jebel Ali surrounded by the ruddy Adoo rebels with a knackered Range Rover engine on my hands, just because you put a dirty old oily sand covered dipstick back into the engine!, Is that clear lad,” said Bomber.
“Right Sarg!, no problem Sarg!, I won’t forget it this time I promise you”.
Sultan Qaboos bin Said had immediately instigated major social, educational and military reforms in Oman soon after his father, Sultan Said bin Taimur had been deposed, and he had instructed that a general amnesty was to be granted to all of his subjects who had opposed his father in the past.
However for all those rebels who did not accept the offer of amnesty military action would be taken. The Sultan wanted his country to be recognised as a genuine Arab state with its own legal form of government and to isolate the PDRY from receiving support from other Arab states.
Within hours of the coup, He had requested assistance from the British government to help stop the Communist rebels taking over his country, which would have been catastrophic for the Western World. The British Government immediately despatched Special Air Service (SAS) troops who were flown into Oman to further bolster the counterinsurgency campaign.
Twenty Five men from the SAS were initially sent in by the British Government under the then Conservative leader Edward Heath, who wholeheartedly supported the counterinsurgency campaign, with a further 20 personal from the British Royal Engineers who would aid his people to construct schools, health centres, and the drilling of wells for the population of Dhofar.
A Royal Air Force medical team would also be sent to Oman to operate out of the hospital in Salalah. In 1970 Brigadier Jack Fletcher took command of the Brigade but it was now 1972 and Brigadier John Akenhurst had now taken overall command.
.A major effort was made to counter rebel propaganda and induce the Dhofari population to support the government, in particular appeals were made to Islam and to traditional tribal values and customs against the rebels secular and materialistic teaching.
Japanese transistor radios were distributed free to Dhofari’s who visited Salalah and other government held towns when they came to sell their firewood or vegetables to the local Dhofar market traders, this helped the new Oman government get their message across to the population .
The radios were flown into RAF Salalah on one of the only monthly regular flights from Bahrain, and Red Troops next mission was to escort the cargo to all the local towns as far away as Mirbat ,to be distributed to the people in the local market place.
After morning parade Sergeant Hill instructed, Tiny, Rasher, and Sick Leave to take Popeye out to the landing strip to meet the incoming flight from Bahrain, and then to load up the cargo of Japanese transistor radios and spare batteries on the back of the Land Rover which was then to be transported by escort to the local towns including Mirbat.
As expected the monthly RAF flight from Bahrain came under a barrage of mortar bombs from the Adoo rebels, which fortunately fell far short of their intended target, and the lads managed to recover the cargo of radios without any serious injuries to either themselves or their vehicle. Within minutes our hedgehog positions counter attacked the enemy locations and fired mortar shells in the direction of the enemy. The heavy guns of the Royal Artillery swung into action and opened up on the surrounding hillsides which put paid to the enemy attack once again.
Red troop accompanied by their OC Captain ( Blossom) Flowers in the lead vehicle headed out for the 75 klm drive to Mirbat, stopping off for a delivery to Salalah and Taqah Town , but apart from the occasional sniper who had only just managed to put one hole into Popeye’s tailboard, the rebels had very little success.
The lads managed to deliver the cargo of Japanese radios to the Mirbat market for free distribution to the local people without further incident. The local population were now trying to get to back to some sort of daily routine due to the major disruption which was suffered by the Mirbat War, and soon after visiting the BATT Fort, Red Troop headed back to the safety of RAF Salalah.