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.”
“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.”
“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?”
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.