Association News

Do you have any News that may be of interest to other members? If so please let Keith know at

14 Feb 2020

Speaker for the June Curry Lunch

We are pleased to announce that Lt Gen Sir Simon Mayall KBE CB has agreed to speak at the Curry Lunch on 11th June 2020 (see Events). Simon will also sign copies of his book, Soldier in the Sand, which will have been recently published shortly before the lunch.

Simon is an enthusiastic member of the Association and regularly attends our London events. He served in Oman in the Armoured Regiment 1985-87 and then went on to a very distinguished career in the British Army with a number of appointments in and related to the Middle East as well as in Kosovo and other locations.

He was appointed Assistant Chief of the General Staff in January 2007 and, in 2009, became Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Operations). He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in the 2010 New Year Honours and made Defence Senior Advisor Middle East at the Ministry of Defence in May 2011. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2014 Birthday Honours


11 Feb 2020

PR/Advertising Manager for the Journal

The Association is seeking a new volunteer member to be PR/Advertising Manager for the Journal taking over from Chrissie Heslop who has given us such splendid support for the past 20 years in this role.

The task is primarily to seek high quality advertising from Omani companies or British companies with business interests in Oman. It is a full service role involving everything from targeting potential advertisers, through marketing and selling, to detailing adverts to meet publishing specs, invoicing and chasing payments. There will be a full handover from Chrissie.

Would interested members please contact Tim Jones at

05 Feb 2020

Colonel Johnnie Johnson Service of Thanksgiving

There will be a Service of Thanksgiving for Johnnie Johnson at St Patrick's Church, Patrick Brompton, North Yorkshire on Wednesday 12th February at 2:30pm.  All welcome. No flowers please. Donations if wished to SSAFA.  Johnnie will be greatly missed by his wife Penny and his daughters Sarah and Helen.

28 Jan 2020

Colonel Johnnie Johnson

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!.

15 Jan 2020

His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik bin Taimur al Said

His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik bin Taimur bin Said succeeded to the throne on 11th January on the death of his cousin His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said bin Taimur Al Said.


The 65-year old ruler served as a special envoy to the late Sultan on different occasions and held various positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  He served as the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Political Affairs from 1986 to 1994 and was later appointed as the Secretary General for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1994–2002).


This extensive experience in foreign relations and policies formed the focus of his first speech as Sultan, in which he expressed the intent to continue the policies of the late Sultan, saying:  “In terms of foreign policy, we will follow the path he followed: embracing principles based on the peaceful coexistence among nations and people.”


HM Sultan Haitham bin Tarik was the Sultanate’s Minister of Heritage and Culture and the driving force behind the restoration of many historical monuments in Oman.  He is the Chairman of the Committee for the future vision of "Oman 2040″, a roadmap for social and economic reform for the country.  In 1979 he was a graduate of the Foreign Service Programme from Pembroke College, Oxford University.


He is the honorary president of the Oman Association for the Disabled and the honorary president of the "Omani-Japanese Friendship Association."  He was also the first head of the Oman Football Association in the early 1980s and is known as a sports enthusiast.


The Association looks forward to supporting the Sultan in the continuing pursuit of peace and prosperity in the Sultanate.

15 Jan 2020

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said bin Taimur al Said

It is with great sadness that the Sultan's Armed Forces Association mourns the death of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.  His wise guidance over many years has supported his people in enabling the whole country to develop steadily and prosper greatly – earning a recognition and respect that reaches widely into other nations.

The memories of the Association’s members stretch back to the early and more challenging times after His Majesty’s accession and the start of Renaissance. It is with great pride that we have shared parts of that journey and been able to witness Oman’s many subsequent achievements.  We have been particularly grateful for the interest that His Majesty had continued to show in the Association, and the warmth of the enduring friendships.

Sultan Qaboos graduated from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in 1962. He then served in the Cameronians from where he retained a passion for pipe bands.  He succeeded his father on 23 July 1970 and over the next fifty years implemented significant socio-economic reforms to bring Oman into the 21st century creating a stable country in an unstable region.

Returning to Sandhurst in 1983, Sultan Qaboos took the salute at the Sovereign’s Parade.  Recalling his own military training, he declared,  "The values I absorbed have remained with me for ever afterwards. … I learnt that discipline is not just something one imposes on others, it is something that one has to, above all, apply to oneself, if one is to be a worthy leader of men. I also learnt the true meaning of service, that is, to give and not to expect to receive, and that it is the team, and not oneself, that matters. I learnt that with responsibility comes obligation."

Click here to read the obituary published in The Times 13 January 2020

Click here to read the obituary published in the Daily Telegraph 11 January 2020

14 Jan 2020

Memorial Service for David O'Morchoe

The private family funeral of Maj Gen (Retd) David O'Morchoe CB CBE (The O'Morchoe) took place on the 24th November 2019 at Christ Church, Gorey, Co Wexford.


There will be a memorial service to celebrate his life on Saturday, 28th March 2020 at 3pm in St Patrick's Cathedral (Church of Ireland), Armagh City, Co Armagh.


Anyone wishing to attend is invited to inform Brigadier (Retd) Adrian Naughten at his Email:, after 21st January.


At the moment there are cheap flights available from London to Dublin and Belfast City Airport around that date.

06 Sep 2019

Proposed 2020 Association Visit to Oman

It is probable that a minimum of twenty members of the Association will be invited to visit Oman between 2 and 12 December 2020.  The programme, which will coincide with Veterans Day and Armed Forces Day, is likely to be split between Dhofar and the North, with a good deal of internal travel and the usual jebel walking!


COSSAF has indicated that applications would be particularly welcome from those who have not taken part in an Association visit previously and from recently joined members.  None of that, however, should prevent any member from applying.  Assuming sufficient applications, the group will comprise a balance of members from all three Services.


You are asked to note that the programme will be quite demanding physically and that personal travel insurance must be taken out by individuals to cover the visit.  Members are expected to pay for their own travel costs to Oman and return (probably through centralised arrangements).  In-country subsistence and travel costs have traditionally very generously been met by COSSAF.


In order to assist the Committee’s outline planning and response to COSSAF, would any member interested in taking part in the visit please advise Neil Fawcett by email by 31 October 2019 if they would like to be considered.  Email address:


Following a further reminder in the 2020 Journal, which should also contain more details of the programme, confirmation of those selected to visit should be finalised by 30 June 2020.  As in previous years, a Reserve List will be compiled as a contingency.

09 Jul 2019

News of Tim Finneron

The following newsy message received from 3 Sqn USA rep Tim Finneron.  Should anyone wish to contact Tim please let me know, through the website or my email, and I will put you in touch.

"How nice it is for those of us who live abroad to receive news of the UK events and the personalities whose company we enjoyed from the bars of Salalah to the dust of Sarfait. I am moving from LA to Seattle for semi-retirement and tax reasons. But not giving up flying just yet. I will be flying a new aircraft type, a Falcon 900EX EASy (tri jet) with next gen avionics and operating out of San Diego. A decent commute but probably only once a month or so. If anyone should happen to pass through Seattle then I would be delighted to meet up with them. It’s a beautiful spot and wine a plenty. Stories will be confined to 3 Sqn exploits and the Salalah hooligans. I suppose we will therefore (begrudgingly) have to include 1 Sqn. Salaams to all my readers. We shared experiences that most people will never know in several lifetimes. When we solve the final conundrum, we can rest easy."

Tim ‘Octopus’ Finneron, 3 Sqn Social Secretary and general raconteur.

08 Apr 2019

New Editor for The Journal

We are pleased to announce that Tim Jones has joined the committee as Editor ­(designate) of the SAF Journal. He will take over from Nigel Knocker wef 1 June 2019. Tim was one of the first RAF Regiment officers to serve on loan with SAF. He commanded 3 Company JR, 1972-74 and also flew with SOAF as a forward air controller.

He retired from the RAF Regiment in 1985 to join Rolls Royce (Aero Engines) as Middle East Director including support to RAFO. During Gulf War 1 he led RR support to the Allied Forces from Riyadh. Later, as Military Marketing Director, he was responsible for all RR engine programmes in RAFO.

Tim is delighted to continue his long and close association with Oman and we welcome him on board as Editor (designate).

07 Apr 2019

New Events Added

For anyone who doesn't regularly check the events page of this website a quick heads up that we have recently added 2 new events.

Northern Lunch on Monday 3rd of June


The New Forest Regional Luncheon on Sunday 8th of September

Both are in keeping with our policy of organising more regional events away from London.  Neither event is intending to restrict attendance to those living in the local area, so if you want to go to the Northern Lunch from Cornwall feel free, although the idea of the local events is to enable people to meet without having to travel long distances.  It is also, we feel, fitting that the southern New Forest Regional Luncheon should have a more flowery title than the down to earth Northern Lunch!


Click here to go to the Events page.

31 Mar 2019

Martin Cooke

The editors of the Journal much regret that Martin Cooke (FF 75-77) is shown in the Journal as having died when he is very much alive. Martin writes:

"Notice of my demise is somewhat premature.  I asked Bernadette whether or not I was still alive and she assures me I am.  I'm actually feeling very well thank you."


Martin and Bernadette, please accept our apologies and best wishes for many fruitful years to come.

15 Feb 2019


Tresham Gregg - NFR 71 - 73, following up on his Christmas appeal, writes:

Over the centenary year of the end of the First World War, you may well have seen the "6ft Tommy" figures and silhouettes around the country - in graveyards, beside War Memorials, church pews and in other iconic places, both at home and abroad. These were from the campaign There But Not There which was the inaugural project of the charity "Remembered".  The figures, silhouettes and the 10" Tommies have raised substantial funds for its beneficiary military and mental health charities - Combat Stress, H4H, Walking With the Wounded, the Royal Foundation, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Project Phoenix.


While the centenary of WW1 has passed, "Remembered" is now focusing on the 75th Anniversary of the D Day Landings in 2019, and is continuing to generate funds in support of its beneficiary charities through the sale of its 10" Tommy table top figures.  These remain an evocative image and a memory to those whose relatives were either lost or affected, physically or mentally, during Operation Overlord and WW2, and, in any subsequent campaign to the present day.  


If you would like a momento in memory of a relative or friend, you might consider purchasing a 10" Tommy, which will make a great difference to the beneficiary charities and help them to continue their outstanding work on behalf of those Servicemen and Women who have been affected by conflict while serving in our Armed Forces.

09 Feb 2019

Golf Day in June 2020

Robin Gainsford writes:

I am looking at running a one off Golf Match at Dorset Golf and Country Club for anyone who has worked or served in the Sultanate of Oman. Date will be a Monday or Tuesday in June 2020. It will include a three course lunch and ladies are most welcome as guests and/or players. It will be a stableford and players of all standards are most welcome


Please e mail me if you wish to declare an interest 

29 Jan 2019

AOS Lecture: Saif Sareeya 3 - The exercise and its legacy

Members may be interested in this month's Anglo Omani Society Lecture.  In a change from the original schedule the lecture will concern Saif Sareeya 3 - The exercise and its legacy and will be delivered by Lt Col Tony Royce on Thursday 14 February 2019, 6 - 7 pm, (doors open at 5:30pm) at 34 Sackville Street, London, W1S 3ED

Lieutenant Colonel Tony Royce has been an Infantry officer for over 25 years, during which time he has spent six years on operations in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan and most recently as Commanding Officer of the 4th Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment on United Nations duty on the Green Line in Cyprus.  Around 12 years of Regimental Duty he has principally been in staff appointments at Brigade HQ level and in the Ministry of Defence and has spent much of the last ten years in Defence Engagement roles.


Appointed as the Oman desk officer in the Security Policy and Operations Directorate in the MOD in April 2017, he has been involved in the UK top level decision making for Exercise Saif Sareea 3 through much of the planning and the execution of the deployment.  He is now the principal MOD desk officer for the delivery of the Legacy of Saif Sareea 3 working at the top level of Defence and in conjunction with the FCO.  He also has the Bahrain desk, which combined with Oman gives him a good perspective of Gulf regional dynamics.


His presentation entitled – ‘Saif Sareeya 3 and it’s Legacy’ will be from the UK Defence level perspective. It will include the conduct of the deployment and exercise, what it achieved and why it has been so significant and such a resounding success.  It will conclude with a look forward to the Legacy of the exercise and the bright future for a stronger, closer and broader bilateral relationship between the UK and Oman.  He will take questions from the audience and the Chatham House Rule will apply.


If you plan to attend this event, please register by email to

24 Oct 2018

Statue of Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba Unveiled in Fiji

Sgt Labalaba, who was born in 1942 in Fiji, was recruited into the British army in 1961 and quickly made his way into the SAS.  Known to his colleagues as a "gentle giant", he was part of a team of nine SAS soldiers based outside Mirbat.

On 19 July, 1972, a day before they were due to go home, they were attacked.

Knowing the unit was hopelessly outnumbered, Sgt Labalaba ran hundreds of yards to reach a 25-pounder artillery gun which is usually operated by four to six men.

He held out for two and a half hours against at least 250 fighters, repelling wave after wave of attacks. He was shot in the jaw and eventually died when a bullet passed through his neck.

Click on the image to read the full BBC News story

05 Oct 2018

50th Anniversary Annual Dinner Update

A reminder that our 50th Anniversary Annual Dinner will be held on Friday 23rd November at the Army and Navy Club, St James's.  Full details can be found on the Events page as well as a registration button that enables  members to reserve their tickets and book in any guests.  Current policy is to exclude spouses from this event. They are very welcome at most other Association functions including the summer Curry Lunch.

We are fortunate to have secured the agreement of General Sir John Lorimer to speak at the event.  Sir John  is the Defence Senior Adviser on the Middle East and takes an active interest in Oman, the Association and the military ties between the Omani and UK forces.

We have invited a, perhaps, larger number than usual of Omani guests.   Their responses are still being received but it would be good to have an even larger number of members from all services and all ages to welcome them.

Finally, don't leave your application until the closing date on 16th November.  If demand for the Curry Lunch in June is anything to go by we will, by then, have reached capacity and be turning people away.

05 Aug 2019

Editor of The Journal

The Committee is most grateful to those who applied for the position of Editor of the Journal but have now decided that Nigel Knocker will continue as Editor until the 2020 edition. We are pleased to say that Nigel has agreed to this arrangement.  Any member with an article or contribution should send it direct to Nigel at by 1st December 2018.

15 Jul 2018

50th Anniversary Curry Lunch

The Association’s curry lunch at the Rag on 5 June was a resounding success, with more people attending our London Summer event than for many years. Over 100 members and their guests were present for a most enjoyable occasion - and there was a waiting list.


To mark our 50th anniversary, we invited a guest speaker, Mr Stuart Laing, a former ambassador to Oman, who reviewed our common British/Omani history in which so many of our members have played a distinguished part, spoke about the unique position of the Sultan and Sultanate as a factor for peace in a troubled region, hinted at the future possibilities - and did it all with humour and authority.


Mr Laing is the new Chairman of the Anglo-Omani Society, of which many SAF Association people are also members. He and the last chairman, Mr Robert Alston, are the authors of  'Unshook to the End of Time', a history of British-Omani relations over the past four centuries.


Your SAF Association committee has wrestled in recent years with the form of the Summer London event.  Last year we tried a curry lunch for the first time, and it worked well, bringing in many more members than in recent years  and proving a sociable and popular event. This year was even better (as was the quality and quantity of curry served!)

26 Jun 2018

Did someone say it was hot?

A city in Oman just posted the world’s hottest low temperature ever recorded: 109 degrees.’s-hottest-low-temperature-ever-recorded-109-degrees/ar-AAzgocB?ocid=spartandhp

And for those who haven't seen it yet, click on the image for a link to a Youtube clip of the Wadi Darbat and some of the devastation following the recent Cyclone Mekunu, which hit Dhofar on 25th May 2018

16 Jun 2018

SON/RNO Celebrates 50 years of the SAF Association

A group of 35 naval officers, their wives and guests met on the 17th June 2018 in the Princess Royal Gallery at the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth.  The principal guest was the Omani Defence Attache, Commodore Said al Maqbali.

Click on the photo to the left to see a gallery of photos taken at the event.

27 May 2018

News of some Late Great members

Clicking the Oldie image should take you to an article published in 'The Oldie' magazine that mentions two of our late great members, Roddy Jones and Peter (Scrubber) Stewart-Richardson.  As many of us aren't getting any younger, enjoy!

03 May 2018

Speaker announced for 15 June 2018 Curry Lunch

Stuart Laing, British Ambassador to Oman 2002 – 05, has agreed to speak at the 50th Anniversary Curry Lunch at the Army and Navy Club on 15 June 2018.

Stuart is currently Master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge; and will shortly be taking over from Robert Alston as Chairman Anglo Omani Society.  Together with Robert Alston, he has recently published 'Unshook Till The End Of Time: A History of Britain and Oman' (which is a quotation from the first treaty in 1798): reviewed as “assembling an authoritative history which runs from the earliest contacts in the mid-17th century through to the end of the Dhofar wars in 1975. Their research sheds new and clearly documented evidence on how events unfolded over the past fifty years. This landmark book will be vital to all historians of the region and to analysts of the current geopolitical situation in the Persian Gulf.”


Stuart will reflect on the 50 years of the SAF Association and offer a splendid prism through which Association members can themselves reflect on the role that they played, through those conflict years and then into training and mentoring our Omani colleagues; together with a sense of how these ties are still relevant.

16 Apr 2018

Nigel Knocker medal presentation

Colonel Nigel Knocker received his greatly deserved Order of Oman award at a ceremony in Bait al Falaj today.  The medal, awarded in appreciation of his efforts as Chairman of the SAF Association for many years, was presented by Sayyid Badr bin Saud bin Harib al Busaidi, Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs.  Fareeq Rukn Ahmed bin Harith bin Nasser al Nabhani, Chief of Staff Sultan's Armed Forces among others attended the ceremony.

31 Jan 2018

Colonel Nigel Knocker awarded Order of Oman

Colonel Nigel Knocker has been awarded the Order of Oman Military medal (WO) in a message from the Chief of Staff, Sultan's Armed Forces, which informed him that the award has received Royal consent.  The award is in recognition of his service in Oman, his many years as chairman of the SAF Association and his continuing links to the Sultanate through the Association and the Anglo Omani Society.

01 Jan 2018

RAFO Historical Archive

RAFO are very keen to identify and preserve heritage items that will help to tell the story of how the Service has developed into the highly respected force that it is today.  A Historical Archive is steadily being built up in Oman, and this is an appeal to members of the Association to consider contributing material from their own sources, eg:

  • Photographs and films

  • Records, orders, official papers

  • Old maps, wall charts, posters

  • Badges, items of uniform or personal equipment


… in other words anything that has a historical value attached to it

There are two potential routes for forwarding material:

  • Items over the internet: direct to Raaid Khalid Al-Kharusi, the RAFO Archivist, at

  • ‘Hard’ items: through the good offices of the RAF Museum, who have generously offered to collate material and filter for duplicates.  Send to:  RAFO Archive – Offer of Materia, Mr Peter Elliott, Head of Archives, Royal Air Force Museum, Grahame Park Way, Hendon, London, NW9 5LL

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