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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