Muqaddam AJP (Tony) Higgins

June 24, 2020

Tony sadly passed away suddenly during the night of 22/23 June from a suspected heart attack. Being a Muslim he was buried at 1200 on 23 June in the Public Cemetery at Al Amerat (on the Quriyat Road)

Tony, was born in the UK in May 1946, he came from a military family and as such followed the drum wherever his father was posted. He was educated in the UK, and after school, went to RMA Sandhurst and was commissioned into the RAOC.

His first contact with Oman was a secondment to Oman in 1973-74 as a Supplies Officer both in Dhofar and the north. On his return to UK, he met Lutfiya Al Kharusi (Lottie), who was on a Nursing Course there. This was to change his life and they married in December 1976. Tony left the British Army, followed Lottie back to Oman and on 18 January 1979 came to SAF on contract. He initially served as SO3 (Q) in Northern Oman Brigade and then later on his promotion to Raaid as the Brigade DQ. From here he moved to HQ SOLF (Quartering Branch) as SO2 and later as SO1, on his promotion to Muqaddam. In the late 1980’s he was posted to Office of COSSAF as the SO1 Quartering, but was additionally given the task of organising the 1990 and 1995 National Day Parades, which he did most successfully. From here he moved to Bait Al Falaj to organise the opening of the SAF Museum. His final posting was to the National Survey Authority as SO1 Coordination, before leaving SAF in January 1998.

His wife Lottie, became Matron of Armed Forces Hospital (AFH) and later Chief Nursing Officer. They had two daughters, Layla and Sarah, now both married and living in UAE.

Tony became an Omani Citizen in 1998 and worked for Sayyid Al Mutassim bin Hamood for several years as General Manager of his Civilian Company. He retired from this and he and Lottie spent their summers in the UK at their house in Bath, and winters in Oman, and UAE with their daughters and three grandchildren.

Tony had a great sense of humour and was a great raconteur, and even produced a book of poems, some of which demonstrated his acerbic and none too PC wit! He will be sadly missed.

Raaid Chris Beal FTR, RCT and RASC

May 05, 2020

RAAID CHRISTOPHER HAMILTON (Chris) BEAL died in hospital in Switzerland on 6 May 2020, from a heart attack.

Chris was born on 12 July 1939 in Cardiff, Wales. His father was mobilised as a Territorial officer in the Welch Regt shortly after his birth and would eventually land in Normandy in 1944. He would end the war as a decorated major in the Reconnaissance Corps. Chris was educated at Framlingham College, in Suffolk. He was commissioned from Mons Officer Cadet School into the Royal Army Service Corps in 1960, having been a National Serviceman since 1959. During his time in the British Army, he saw overseas service in Libya, Germany, Cyprus, Sabah, Sarawak, Hong Kong and Northern Ireland. He retired from the British Army as a major in the Royal Corps of Transport in 1978.

Following his service in the British Army and after a short time in Sudan acting as the logistics team leader for a documentary film crew, he joined SAF on 8 October 1979. Having arrived in the Sultanate he undertook a short attachment in Dhofar attached to A Company Southern Regiment (KJ), before joining Muqaddam Paul Benton as his operations and training officer in the rapidly developing Force Transport Regiment (FTR). They were both instrumental in taking the jaysh's operational logistics from ‘back of a Bedford’ ad hoc resupply arrangements, to a modern and integrated force-support capability in the early 1980s.

Chris was also a great enthusiast for rigorously testing every resupply element and he was only happy when an FTR capability had been desert-proven. He was a great mentor to Omani, Baluchi and Brit alike. He was a natural adventurer and from 1984 to 1986 he played a key role in supporting the Royal Geographical Society’s expedition and detailed analysis of the Wahibah Sands. He had a depth of skill and experience that was put to great use and Chris played a huge part in preparing the Omani logistical contribution to the Peninsula Shield force that deployed to Kuwait. He was an enthusiast for Omanisation and always committed time to developing junior Omani officer capabilities in terms of bringing on their command and planning skills. He ended his time in SAF as the Commandant of the Force’s School of Transport.
 
Chris and his wife Heide ran an exclusive tourist operation in Oman after he left the army.  He was deeply loyal to his dear wife Heide during her battle with cancer, which she sadly lost in Oman in 2002, as well as being a great father to their daughter Natasha.  In 2003 he returned to London and took on a logistics fuel project for the UN in Iraq just after the war. Later he met a fellow spirit in a Swiss Lady, Esther, so they married and he moved to Switzerland where they lived peacefully for 13 years in a small farming village outside Bern. He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the Honourable Artillery Company as well as holding memberships of a number of other associations and institutes.  He joked that his time on horses in Hong Kong may have helped him get into the HAC.

 

Chris was immensely positive and would always lift the spirits of others under strain. As a friend, he was witty, warm and always patient. He was very popular with his Omani friends and when on his frequent trips into the interior he was never short of places to stop for qahwa and dates. He was a wonderful guide who loved to share his knowledge of the Sultanate (a country he adored), a real raconteur who was never short of a story. As a host, he was always generous and when paying a visit to Chris it really was a case of 'baytee baytak'. He will be sorely missed by all that knew him.

Once the travel restrictions due to COVID-19 are lifted, Chris’ ashes will be given to the sea in the smallest circle according to Chris’ wishes.

(Chris Tomlinson)
 

Mikey Wilson

April 27, 2020

MUQADDAM MICHAEL TERENCE (Mikey) WILSON died peacefully in AFH Al Khoud at 0500 on 28 April 2020, from medical complications he had been suffering for some time.

Mikey was born on 9 October 1952 in Nigeria, where his father was on Diplomatic Service. He was educated at Westminster School and Queens University Belfast and went on to RMA Sandhurst, and was commissioned into the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in 1972, serving in Northern Ireland and Cyprus. It was here he developed a penchant for all things Scottish, learning to play the Bagpipes, a skill he developed over the years becoming a very highly qualified piper. It was also at this stage that his liking for a “wee dram” was fostered.

Following his service in the British Army, he joined SAF on 3 February 1976, and although the war was officially over, there was considerable mopping up over the next few years, and Mikey saw active service in Dhofar with NFR. He spent a year at Sarfait, shortly after joining, and was determined to learn Arabic whilst there. He did so brilliantly, becoming a fluent arabist, and went on in later years to get an MA in Arabic and become an Arabic Language Examiner. Not only could he converse well in Classical Arabic, but his mastery of the colloquial tongue made him very popular with the jundees. Whilst at Sarfait, he also became friendly with the Iranian Air Defence Detachment and learnt a bit of Farsi as well. He was a natural linguist.

Following his tour with NFR, because of his Arabic skills, he was posted to SAFTR as an Instructor in the Officer Training Wing, where he excelled and was promoted Raaid whilst there.

His next move in the early 1980’s was to JR at Nizwa as 2IC. He developed an excellent working relationship with the CO (Khamis bin Humaid Al Kilbani – later COSSAF).  So much so that when the CO was promoted Aqeed and sent to command Firqat Forces, he demanded that Mikey come with him and be appointed CO ORF. Mikey was posted to ORF in 1984, but unfortunately prior to his arrival the CO’s post had been Omanised and he was appointed 2IC instead.

From ORF he returned to SAFTR as Chief Instructor in 1987 and stayed there six years improving the Recruit Training and running the RCB’s as well as introducing the Young Officers Weapons Course. His first marriage was dissolved during this period and he married Jan in 1992.

In 1993, he was posted to HQ 23 Infantry Brigade as SO2 Training and ran the Brigade Exercise that year in preparation for the large scale army Exercise Fajr 23 at the end of that year.

In 1995, because of an ongoing back problem, he was moved to a less active appointment, initially as Finance Officer in the Office of the Senior British Loan Service Officer, SBLSO, and then on his promotion to Muqaddam, as MA to the SBLSO. He was awarded the Sultans Commendation Medal in 1997.

He was granted Omani Citizenship in the mid 2000’s and eventually retired from SAF in 2009. By this time he was by some distance the longest serving contract officer in SAF.  He and Jan built themselves a large Moroccan Style house in Al Khoud for their retirement, and Mikey undertook a few consultancies.

Mikey was a consummate raconteur with a sharp eye for the ridiculous and absurd.  He also had a particularly high regard for HM Sultan Qaboos.  On the death of Sultan Qaboos in January 2020 Mikey shared with some of us a number of stories about the Sultan:

“HM was always a great lover of music. When he was a young man staying in Norfolk he passed a church and for the first time heard an organ being played. He was entranced. The bewildered vicar started to hear the sounds of a strange Omani boy in the church ‘having a go.’  Sadly the vicar thereafter locked the church. But later HM bought his own organ, brought in a young man from the Royal College of Music to teach him. And HM later played for the King of Jordan and his wife.

At one point it was decided that the musician in question was under employed and he was told to write military marches for the army. I was asked to help with bagpipe music. I was at Rostaq at the time. For a treat I invited him for lunch and let him fire 400 rounds of GPMG on the range. It mucked up his hearing for a fortnight.”

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“When MAM camp opened, there were no Garrison troops, so regiments were required to provide two platoons on rotation.

At a time when it was NFR’s turn, I was sent north from Salalah because there was a great deal of theft of .303 ammo going on. This coincided with a visit by HM. Our lads were paraded for his inspection in their best green boots ( Who on earth chose those ?)

The formation included a chap with a GPMG. HM immediately asked why his number 2 was on his right, and not on the side where he would be serving the weapon in action. He had a very keen eye for such things. And I saw many examples of it.

Anyway, I inspected the wire that protected the ammo, identified a few weak points, and spent a few long boring nights in ambush with the lads waiting to catch the thieves.

Silly boy that I was! The NFR guards had been nicking it all the time.”

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“HM once visited us at Nizwa and visited the donkey lines, and their Central Casting handlers of white bearded Santa Clauses.

HM used to personally name all the considerable number of horses in his stables.

“Do these animals have names?” he enquired of the Donkey Platoon boss.

“Yes, your Majesty.”

“What is this one called?”

“Downkee.”

Those were the days.”

 

Mike is survived by his wife Jan, his son Laurie and two daughters Ella and Jessica from his first marriage to Christine and his other son Toby.  His funeral took place at the Christian cemetery in Mina al Fahal (PDO) on Thursday 7th May with a restricted group of mourners from both the Omani and British communities in Oman including a lament from a piper.

He will be remembered as being a superb arabist, poet and bagpiper. He was a popular and respected officer with both Omanis and expatriates alike. He will be sadly missed.

Commander Howard Straw WKhM RN RNO

March 26, 2020

Commander Howard Straw died peacefully in a residential care home on 26th March 2020.  He had been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease and a lack of mobility due to problems with his knees.  He was a beloved husband to Lilian, father and grandfather and will be much missed by all who knew him. A small private funeral was held on 17th April.

The following was contributed by Captain John De Winton RN who was the Chief of Staff in SON/RNO in the 80s.

 

I recruited him in about ’86 or so. He had been my PWO(G) in Leander in ’74/75 (he was very good) and then went to Bandar Abbas to join the RN training team with the Iranian Navy there. (I had taken Terry Lewin (CinC Fleet) to Bandar Abbas in late ’74). Howard came to Oman as a 2 ½ and was very much involved in the sea training role which he was very good at as he had a good rapport with the Omani’s. He became a Cdr in SON and stayed on until 2001. He was a good golfer and I played with him occasionally and he was an early resident in MQ’s at Wudam.

Col Gordon Barnett MBE

April 19, 2020

Gordon Barnett MBE, R Sigs and SR had been suffering from cancer for about a year prior to his death.  He was taken to hospital after feeling unwell at the beginning of Easter week and died on Good Friday from complications related to his cancer.  There was a private family funeral on the 23rd April in Romsey.​

Gordon assumed command of SAF Signals in 1986 as the first full colonel commander of the expanded signals regiments.  He served in this appointment until 1989.  Chris Fielding who served with Gordon writes: There were only 3 R Sigs personnel at the time, Col Barnett, myself as a WO1 (Fof)S and WO1 (YofS) Mike Hawley. Col Barnett kept a very close eye on us and though at the time I did not agree with all the decisions he made concerning where I was to serve on reflection they were wise and for the best interests of SAF Signals and myself. I saw the whole country not just MAM and for that I will be eternally grateful.

He later retired with his wife Carole to Milford on Sea where he was a prominent member of the Royal British Legion.

​A memorial service may be arranged later in the year

Tim McCoy

February 16, 2020

Major Tim, The McCoy, died on 16th February 2020 after a short illness at Roborough House Ashburton. He is survived by his son Charles, step-daughters Emma and Jackie, his sister and her three daughters.

Tim was born in Hornchurch, Essex on 7th May 1939, the second of 2 children. He was educated at St Mary's Primary School, Hornchurch until he was 11 and after completing his schooling at St Ignatius Jesuit College in Tottenham he joined the Royal Navy in 1957. The following year he was appointed Midshipman training for flying duties. Unfortunately cut backs in the RNAS resulted in him & many others being made redundant.

Undeterred & determined to follow a Service career, Tim then joined the Northern Rhodesia Police as a cadet in 1959 & was appointed Assistant Inspector on his 20th birthday. After spending time with the Mobile Unit, a para military police unit based at Bwana  Mkubwa, he decided that his career ambitions lay with the military. He passed an Officer Selection Board & was attested into the Federal Army of Rhodesia & Nyasaland as an Officer Cadet in June 1961.

A comprehensive officer training course at the Central Africa Command Training School in Gwelo, Southern Rhodesia, followed & resulted in him being commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant & posted in 1962 to 2nd Bn the Kings African Rifles in Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia, as a Platoon Commander. A subsequent transfer to the Bulawayo Area Signal Troop (during which time he also successfully passed the SAS selection course) led to him being sent on the Royal Signals Young Officer’s course in the UK in 1963. On his return he was appointed RSO 2nd Bn the Northern Rhodesia Regiment (formerly 2KAR) & was in that post throughout the Lumpa uprising prior to Northern Rhodesia gaining independence as Zambia in 1964 & until his transfer to Royal Signals in 1966.

 

 Tim had an interesting & varied career with the British Army which initially included postings to 3 Infantry Division HQ and Signals Regiment, service in the Gulf, Germany & Northern Ireland, loan service with the Sultan of Oman’s armed forces & as Officer Commanding 63 (SAS) Signal Squadron. Between 1977 & 1984 he served as SO2 Comms HQ 38 Gp RAF Upavon, was on loan service with the Brunei Armed Forces & again with the Sultan of Oman’s Armed Forces.

On retirement Tim became Executive Secretary of the Wine & Spirit Association UK & Northern Ireland. Unfortunately this new direction in his life was cut short by an unprovoked mugging in London in 1993 which left him seriously & permanently injured forcing him to retire once again – to Totnes in Devon. However, refusing to let his injuries define him he then spent time working with the National Organisation for the Disabled , SCOPE. He had also taken part in Pilgrimages to the Santiago de Compestela on five occasions by 2009 & completed the Pilgrimage of St James on seven occasions.

Tim  was an efficient, popular Signals Officer who had a fast moving career during which he saw service in Europe, Africa, The Middle & Far East theatres of operations. He was a frequent attender at the SAF Dinner where he stood out with the shepherd's crook that he carried.

He will be remembered for his adaptability to rapidly changing circumstances, his charitable works, his fun loving nature & his ability to tell a good yarn. He will be missed by family & friends.

Colonel Johnnie Johnson

January 27, 2020

We regret to report the news that Colonel Johnnie Johnson, who commanded Force Ordnance Services (FOS) and then succeeded Nigel Knocker as UK Defence Attache, died on 27th January 2020.  Johnnie served in Oman from 1976 to 1986.

Colonel Johnnie Johnson took over the Post of Director Force Ordnance Services in 1976. He was a dedicated logistician and a devotee of the British Army Manual of Ordnance Services. The short, sharp end to the post monsoon campaign in Dhofar had stretched SAF’s logistic resources, particularly in Combat supplies, but the supply chain had prevailed - largely through ad hoc initiatives demanded by the fluid situation and sheer hard work by a number of seasoned veteran logisticians from a variety of backgrounds.

 However, to a newcomer arriving from a well - ordered British army, things must have looked pretty chaotic and Colonel Johnson certainly said so frequently! He set about re-organising things with considerable vigour but his very experienced and pragmatic team were able to temper some of his initial enthusiasm by translating his directives into workable local solutions until the system drew breath and peacetime procedures were gradually established.

 Priorities were sometimes also “adjusted” as the new Director was introduced to the prevailing situation. In one early encounter with the Stores Management System the Colonel demanded to see the “Repeat Order Book”. The wonderful and effective Chief Clerk duly produced an immaculate large ledger neatly written in Arabic, Baluchi and Urdu.  Reportedly, it served the purpose but later turned out to be the Stim and Rooti “NAAFI break” book!

Nevertheless, Johnnie Johnson undoubtedly set the direction for post - Dhofar Force Ordnance Services. He was also generous in entertaining his subordinates who well remember his private dinners at Bait al Falaj. A keen Hash runner, he was instrumental in establishing the Oman Hash House Harriers in 1976 with a founding membership of 12 runners. He became the Grand Master of the re-named Muscat Hash and a later photograph in The Times of Oman shows him heading the pack of over 70 runners celebrating their 300th run – no doubt all running according to the rule book!

Neville Baker

July 10, 2019

Just days short of his 95th birthday, Neville Baker died peacefully in Sussexdown Care Home on Thursday 11th July.

He’d originally joined the RAF in 1942, and after training in South Africa he flew Dakota C47 in North Africa and Palestine.  He stayed on as a regular, becoming a flying instructor including a posting to Ceylon. He converted to helicopters in 1956, doing Search and Rescue in the UK as well on secondment with the Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force.

He retired from the RAF and went under contract to SOAF in 1970, as a Squadron Leader, to lead the introduction of helicopters into SAF in what became 3 Squadron. Initially simply four light Agusta Bell 206s, followed in 1971 by the first batch of eight AB 205s (the ideally-suited Huey) – giving SAF invaluable capabilities of operational flexibility in dominating larger areas, through troop insertion, resupply, and casualty evacuation.

At this stage, all the pilots were necessarily expatriates but Neville’s approach was entirely pragmatic, ensuring a spread of experience and backgrounds to underpin the building of an entirely new unit facing the particular challenges and uncertainties of operating in Dhofar. 3 Squadron was involved in every facet of military action over the next five years, earning the later tribute from General Akehurst that “Without the helicopters the war might be going on yet – I always claimed these pilots to be the most skilful in the world at that time”.

Neville led from the front and played his part in many of the high and low moments during the Dhofar War, including the Battle of Mirbat in July 1972. After four years in command, he was promoted and posted to a different appointment in the north; but, importantly, he also went briefly back to 3 Squadron to fill a gap during the build-up to the final crucial operations. He left SOAF in December 1976 – “the best seven years of my life”.

He later went back to settle quietly in Brighton, but with memories that stayed pin-sharp.  Flying had been his life, and his time with 3 Squadron the pinnacle of it.

Lt Col Karl Saxon Beale

April 11, 2019

Karl Beale was born on 12 May 1929.  Commissioned into the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment on 14 July 1949, he was awarded an MID in 1952 and Military Cross in October 1953 for operations in Malaya. 

 

He transferred to the Parachute Regiment as a company commander and parachuted into Suez in 1956 and served a tour at Hereford as second-in-command 22 SAS Regiment. 

 

He was promoted to Lt Col. on 30 June 1969 and seconded to SAF 1970-72 where he served as CO NFR.  He will be best remembered for establishing an airstrip and base in early 1971, north of the tree line at Akoot which was named ‘Karlsberg’ and was a launching point for many of the subsequent operations in the Western Area including the successful series of Viper Operations.  Karl greatly valued his time in Oman and loved both the country and its people. 

 

Returning to UK, Karl was posted to HQ SAS Group as Chief of Staff 1972-73 before retiring in 1977.  The following year Karl went back to Oman to take over command of the Sultan’s Special Forces where he served for a time.  His last appointment in Oman was as an advisor to the Omani government, working in the Palace Office.  Some friends, still living in Oman, have offered us their memories of Karl during this final period of service. 

"Karl lived next door to us and we would sometimes witness, while sitting on our patio having a sundowner, a hostage exercise with black-cladded special forces personnel crawling through our garden on their bellies and Karl negotiating with the hostage takers in his underpants! 

 

Karl would entertain us with stories of his time in Malaya, how he was able to sniff a tin of baked beans being opened by the ‘other side’ at a distance of half a mile.   He also used to tell us about his preparations for  escape and evasion exercises from Dartmoor Prison and how he had buried a couple of suitcases on Dartmoor containing tea and dry biscuits, gold coins and a ‘Peace In Our Time’ suit!   Our children were fascinated by Karl’s stories and were always asking him to give them the location of his caches!

 

He was extremely generous and once gave a memorable cheese & wine party (with caviar) and all guests were handed cheese, wine glasses and excellent wine on leaving!

 

He loved his children dearly and always referred to them as ‘boy-child’ and ‘girl-child’."

He retired first to Crediton in Devon and later to Warwickshire to be near son, Chris and daughter Caroline.

Karl died peacefully at Kenilworth Nursing Home on 12 April 2019, one month before his 90th birthday.

Air Vice-Marshal Leslie Phipps

March 03, 2019

After a short illness, Les Phipps died peacefully on 3rd March. 

 

During a full RAF career, and with a background as a fighter pilot, he served as Commander SOAF 1973-74 as the small force adapted to meet the challenges and pressures of sustained operations.  Clearly a major focus for him over that period was mapping out the future shape and size of SOAF, to meet the evolving needs of the country. At the same time, however, he made sure that he knew what life was like at the sharp end, spending time at Salalah with the Strikemasters of 1 Sqn and also flying on task with the helis of 3 Sqn.  He also took a special interest in the training and qualification of the first Omani pilots.

After returning to the RAF, he held successive appointments both in the Gulf and in UK; he retired in the rank of Air Vice-Marshal in 1983.

It was clear that his time in Oman remained very important to him.  He left clear instructions that he wanted a private family funeral, but did ask that his other friends and colleagues should “raise a glass” and "not be gloomy".

General Sir Charles Huxtable KCB CBE DL

November 26, 2018

Sir Charles Huxtable died on Monday morning 26 November 2018 following a relatively short illness.  His death is announced in the Times of 30 November 2018 and both the Times (17 Dec 18) and the Daily Telegraph (15 Jan 19) have subsequently published obituaries.  Click on the image of Sir Charles to see The Times obituary and click here to see the Daily Telegraph obituary

 

Charles commanded Dhofar Brigade from 1976 – 1978 having taken over from John Akehurst.  This was during the period immediately after Dhofar had been declared to HM the Sultan as secure for civil development, and covered the gradual transition from a war footing to a more peacetime model.

 

Charles was commissioned into the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment in 1952 and served as a platoon commander in the latter stages of the Korean war.  He commanded 1 DWR in the late 60s’ / early 70s.  He became Commander of Land Forces in Northern Ireland in 1980, Director of Army Staff Duties in 1982 and then Commander of Training and Arms Directors at the Ministry of Defence in 1983. He went on to be Quartermaster-General in 1986 and Commander in Chief, UK Land Forces in 1988 before retiring in 1990.

 

He was Colonel of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment from 1982 to 1990 and was Colonel Commandant of the Ulster Defence Regiment from 1991 until 1992. He then served as the first Colonel of the Royal Irish Regiment from 1992 to 1996.

Our sympathies go to Lady Huxtable, his children and grandchildren.

 

David Duncan

November 09, 2019

Sadly, one of  3 (Heli) Squadron’s founding pilots, Dave Duncan, died this morning - 9 November 2018.  Dave had been ill for some time but forecast his demise to his fellow heli pilots in his characteristic and forthright manner and was still able to enjoy the craic.  He was much cheered by their response some forty-five years on.  One was quoted as saying “Oman is in our DNA”. 

 

After flying in the Royal Marines Dave served on 3 Squadron from 1970 to 1977 and supported all SAF Units in Dhofar throughout the Dhofar Campaign and into the peace that followed. There will have been many soldiers reading this who have been resupplied or rescued by him.  He was a character who left his mark on Oman and all who served with him. We shall all miss his indomitable spirit and his contagious laugh.  Shortly before he died Dave characteristically remarked: "I'm just going up there to line up the beers for the rest of you." 

 

Our thoughts go to Verian his wife, who has been so quietly supportive and strong for him for many years, and to their children. 

Nick Moulton-Thomas

October 29, 2018

Nick Moulton-Thomas died on the morning of 29th October 2018 in al Nahdha Hospital, Oman. 

He was known to many in the Association and in the wider Anglo-Omani family following his long service in SAF and the many people that he helped and communicated with during these years.

Nick was born in South Wales, the youngest of 3, and was commissioned into The Cheshire Regiment in 1965. Married to Tish in the same year he became the proud father of Charlotte and Emma.  He was a popular officer in The Regiment, never asking soldiers to do things that he couldn’t. He played Rugby for the 1st XV, gained a degree at Aberystwyth University, attended  Staff College and went on to instruct at the Junior Division of the Australian Staff College.  He served in many countries of the world including Northern Ireland, what
was then West Germany and Berlin, Belize, Australia, Canada, Bahrain, UAE, Libya and Oman, but it was clearly Oman that touched him most.

His first contact with Oman came in 1969 during a tour with the Cheshires to Bahrain and Sharjah when he led a patrol into the Ghubrah bowl and visited, among other places, Bilad Sayt.

In 1984 he left the Btitish Army and began what was to become 23 years service in SAF.

For the next 23 years Nick served with SAF as an operations and training staff officer. He was the Project Manager when the Royal Army of Oman Junior Staff College was set up. And in 2001 when the British Army and Exercise Saif Sareeya returned a second time, Nick was on the team that wrote the exercises. Finally in 2007 Nick, now a Lieutenant Colonel, retired after well over 40 years in military service.

He met and married Alyona, the love of his life, in Oman and formed a strong bond with her son Anton. On retirement from the army he was granted Omani nationality and started a very successful career as Managing Director of Technique LLC and entrepreneur at large.

Nick was always most generous, hospitable and the life and soul of parties.  It is notable how many tributes have been written online for him since his death and how many of those paying tribute have no connection to the military.

 

Nick was buried at the PDO cemetery in Oman on Tuesday 6th November 2018.  He will be sadly missed by all who knew him; a great loss.

Ted Carrington

September 22, 2018

Raaid Ted Carrington who was OC HQ Sqn SOPR from 1983 to 1987, during David Baxter’s time in command, died on 23 September 2018 in Lancaster Royal Infirmary.  He had been suffering from Parkinson’s for some 7 years and bore his illness with dignity.

 

Ted was a TA soldier, turned Regular in Oman, and had previously commanded a Company of the 7th Battalion The Cheshire Regiment in Stockport. He took to life in Rostaq as the first OC HQ Sqn during a  time of expansion for SOPR. He completed his parachute training, gained his wings and was an avid Jebel walker/climber.  He tried to find a north face route to Jebel Shams from Balad Sayt and just failed to reach the summit.   

 

In Oman he met his wife Christine Bewsher who was a nurse at the Armed Forces Hospital. They decided, with regret and happy memories, to leave Oman in 1987 as their family had increased with the birth of Lucy. After a short spell in London they settled in Lancaster.

Al Cameron

July 14, 2018

Hugh Allan Leitch Cameron, better known as Al, was born on the 20th August 1945 near Edinburgh.

He joined the Royal Engineers in 1960 as a boy soldier and passed Selection into 22 SAS Regiment in 1966.  In 1970, following the transition of power in the Sultanate of Oman, he was one of four SAS soldiers selected initially to guard HM Sultan Qaboos. In 1972 he left the SAS to train to be a helicopter pilot, and having gained his wings flew with the Army until 1976, when he left to join the Sultan of Oman’s Airforce in Dhofar.

In 1979 he returned to the UK and had a varied career flying for Barrat Housing, the Police Helicopter Wing in Glasgow, the Shetland Island Council Pollution Control and Surveillance and the North Sea oilrigs where he survived a ditching in the North Sea.  He later flew for the Air Ambulance until 2000, when sadly, he developed Ménière’s disease which affected his balance and he had to stop flying.

Al was always active, and put the skills he had gained in the Engineers to good use carrying out many improvements around the house.  He had a keen interest in conspiracy theories, and spent many a happy hour arguing about them over a bottle of malt.  Al was very much a family man and will be sorely missed by his wife Louise, children and grandchildren.

Major Michael Hugh Myers MBE

July 20, 2018

Hugh was born in Beckenham, Kent on 18th February 1934.  An only child, his parents had immigrated from Jamaica where the family business had been a banana plantation.  Hugh was called up for National Service on 18th July 1952 and served in the Royal Artillery.  He was subsequently commissioned into the Royal Pioneer Corps in which he served in Cyprus, Germany (where he married), and Aden.  Hugh also served in the Singapore Guard Regiment and with the Ghurkhas in Borneo in 1964 - earning him his MBE for his ‘leadership, initiative and hard work over a long period’.

 

In September 1973 Hugh joined SAF, as the Officers’ Mess Manager Thumrait garrison.  There followed a succession of Quartermaster appointments, 2nd Regt SOA then 1st Regt SOA.  Hugh moved from Dhofar to Northern Oman becoming Quartermaster to the Signals Regiment, then Force Base Hospital at Muaskar al Murtafa’a.  He finally left in November 1993 after twenty years’ service in the Sultanate.  Hugh was an intrepid explorer of Oman and active member of the Hash House Harriers.  Hugh’s third wife Pat was killed in a car crash in 1992.

 

He retired to Seaford.  Maintaining his lifelong interest and passion for tall ships he joined the Ocean Youth Sailing Trust South - a charity which helps teach young people to sail. He also qualified as a coastal skipper.  In 2015 Hugh’s health began to fail and he moved into a nursing home.  In June 2018 he developed pneumonia and died on 21 July 2018 in Eastbourne District Hospital Seaford.  Throughout he was cared for by his step-daughter Katie.

Major General Corran Purdon CBE MC CPM

June 26, 2018

Maj Gen Corran Purdon died peacefully during the early hours of Wednesday 27th June.  

Corran Purdon was Commander of the Sultan’s Armed Forces in the rank of Brigadier 1967-1970.

 

He was commissioned into the Royal Ulster Rifles early in the Second World War. He subsequently joined 12 Commando and took part in the Raid on St Nazaire in 1942. He was awarded the Military Cross for demolishing a vital wheelhouse in the Normandie Dock and was wounded and captured whilst trying to make his escape.

Lieutenant Purdon became a dedicated escaper and was finally locked up in Colditz Castle. When he was liberated by the Americans, he and another Rifles officer decided that they wanted to have another crack at the enemy, so they fought in the ranks with the American Army until VE Day.

He went on to command the 1st Battalion of the Royal Ulster Rifles in Borneo and fought in the undeclared war against the Indonesian Regular Army. Following this he became Chief Instructor & OC All Arms Tactical Division at the School of Infantry in Warminster.

After his tenure as CSAF, he returned to the School of Infantry as Commandant.  He then progressed to GOC North West District and finally GOC Near East Land Forces in Cyprus.


On retiring from the Army, General Purdon took up the post of Deputy Commissioner in the Royal Hong Kong Police.

He was appointed Honorary Colonel of the London Irish Rifles, and later became President of their Regimental Association.

His first wife, Patricia, pre-deceased him and he was subsequently married to Jean in June 2009 at the age of 88.

His son, Colonel Tim Purdon also served in SAF for two periods, in MR during 1969 and KJ from 1976 to 1977.

Click on the image to the left to see the obituary published in the Daily Telegraph.

Sean Creak

June 08, 2018

Sean Creek died on Saturday 9 June 2018 from cancer.

 

As most will  know, Sean was an early Strikemaster pilot in 1 Sqn SOAF from 1970 and was responsible for all SOAF conversions to Strikemaster and Beaver aircraft.  He also flew active missions for the squadron and was on standby with David Milne-Smith on 19th July 1972 when they were called to the squadron very early in the morning.  Despite the cloud being pretty much on the deck at Salalah they soon got airborne below weather limits.  They were at very low level when they established spacing over the sea and comms with the BATT commander in Mirbat.  Sean was first to coast in for his attack run.  He fired machine guns and a few Sura rockets beyond the fort before his aircraft was seriously hit.  Sean pulled up to above cloud and headed back to Salalah where he managed to get back on the ground.

Tim Jones writes:

"He was a "Strikey" pilot whose calm voice was always reassuring when in close contact.  Today,  Joint Terminal Attack Controllers have to "buy off" very close air support as "danger close" missions" at the risk of the requesting callsign.  Sean (and others) would regularly deliver bullets, rockets and bombs right up to our own positions without question if requested  and even came out with us on the ground on their days off to better understand our needs!.

I was fortunate to fly several sorties with him trying to identify mortar baseplate and RCL firing positions around Simba and vividly remember coming up Spider Wadi from the sea fast and low to surprise a mortar team emerging from a reverse slope cave. Sura rockets aren't intended to be fired in the climb!  but nevertheless marked the target for Bravo aircraft  to follow up as the overstretched Viper engine of the Strikemaster struggled to cope in the hot thin air. Climbing for height, we adjusted the Simba artillery onto the target before Sean calculated his remaining fuel and  weapon load to offer another attack to Simba or the Hornbeam line on the way back to Salalah

We remained close friends. At the end of my tour in Oman, he flew my family in a Beaver from Seeb to Ibri . They were pretty astonished by the Beaver but astounded to find Spoon in the cockpit! They have never forgotten it. He took leave to install central heating in my house in Yorkshire and some years later we caught up in the Seychelles where he was in transit with Air Europa.

But for me, Sean will always be the calm, utterly professional, Strikey pilot you could rely on to deliver in the most demanding circumstances."

 

By 1975 Sean had moved on to 5 Sqn, Defenders, and thrived on the independence of flying into what were still remote and dicey strips.  He was normally accompanied by his four legged co-pilot, Spoon, and it was rumoured that Spoon actually did most of the flying.

 

After leaving Oman in 1979 Sean moved into civil aviation and settled eventually in Devon where he was awarded for his work with Totnes Caring as a volunteer car driver.

Hermione Ruddell

May 20, 2018

We have received the sad news that Hermione Ruddell died peacefully yesterday morning (20th May) from cancer at her home in Broadway, Worcestershire.  Hermione was Johnny Braddell-Smith’s sister and inherited her brother’s medals including the Sultan’s Gallantry Medal after he was killed on Christmas Day 1974 on Operation Nadir conducted by the Imperial Iranian Task Force to re-capture Rakhyut.  Johnny from County Wexford, Eire held a short service commission with the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment before serving in Oman with the Northern Frontier Regiment.  He was operating with the Firqat at the time of his death and was awarded the Sultan’s Gallantry Medal for his attempt to recover the Firqat Sergeant Major’s body.  Hermione has been a friend of the Association since his death and a regular visitor to Oman.

Lt Col AVO Robinson MC, WB, WKhM

February 02, 2018

.He was 88 years of age.

Vyvyan joined the British army in 1947 and served with distinction in the 2nd Battalion 6th Gurkha rifles where he was awarded the MC

 

He joined SAF after retirement from British Army in 1969 and served as 2 i/c MR.

In 1971, Vyvyan was appointed Askar Liaison Officer and made responsible for the

Wali of Dhofar's Baluch Askars known as the Baluch Guard. 

In January 1973, the 800 strong Baluch Guard became part of SAF and re-named the Frontier Force with Vyvyan as its CO and Lt Khuda Bux Badal as the only other SAF officer.

Vyvyan commanded FF until he left SAF in November 1974.

Click on the photo to go to the obituary in the Telegraph online.

Brigadier Bugs Hughes

January 11, 2018

Bugs Hughes was CO of 1 Regt Oman Artillery in the closing stages of the Dhofar War – he arrived in late Dec 1974 just before Operation DARAB in Jan 1975 and commanded the Gunners throughout the operations in 1975, which ultimately led to the declaration of the end of the war in January 1976. He remained in Oman until March 1977. After Oman he refused an MOD appointment and instead elected to go as DS to the Sudanese Staff College, subsequently commanding the whole UK BATT there as a Col. After Sudan he commanded Victory College at Sandhurst, was the Regimental Colonel RA, and later was Chief of Personnel of the UN Force in the Sinai. He finished his service as a Brigadier commanding the RA Range in the Hebrides. He retired in 1990 and devoted much of his time in retirement to the charity Sailing for the Blind.

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