Following a career in the British Army serving with the Green Howards, Nick Mander arrived in Oman in June 1971. He was initially deployed as a bodyguard to HM Sultan Qaboos. He subsequently joined OG (later OCR) in Northern Oman and served in various roles in OG until 1978. In the earlier years in particular he also undertook a number of detachments to Dhofar including as a liaison officer with the Imperial Iranian Task Force. Mike Lobb writes: I have particular reason to be grateful to Nick. As mentioned, Nick was the SAF Liaison Officer between HQ SAF and the Imperial Iranian Task Force Damavand in December 1974. Not an easy task but when Nick said he would fix things, they got fixed. He was the right man to have covering for you and I will always be grateful to him. He will be greatly missed.
Significantly, in the late seventies Nick, as 2ic of the regiment, was responsible for overseeing the transformation of OG from a Gendarmerie comprising six squadrons stationed from Khasab in the Musandam to Sur in the Sharqiya into the fifth Omani Infantry Battalion, the Oman Coast Regiment. Two young Omani officers developing under Nick’s leadership, Nasib Hamed Al Ruwaihi and Said Nassir Al Salmi, went on to become Commanders of the Royal Army of Oman (RAO).
Nick was also a devoted family man. He met his wife, Lena, in Oman in 1973 while she was working as a midwife in Nizwa and Rostaq. They went on to marry in March 1979 and have two children, Adam and Kristina. The family lived together in Oman for many years and had a wide circle of friends. Despite having a reputation for maintaining robust opinions and firm discipline in his military life (to many he was known as ‘Biffo’) Nick was a devoted family man. Nicky Quinlan tells of the frequent rounders matches that Nick used to arrange for their children and those of Tony and Lottie Higgins behind their house in MAM. Nicky also tells of how she was fairly frequently pulled over by Colonel Nick for speeding in MAM camp as she drove to her work in the offices of the CDS. She does not mention the consequences but they are likely to have been somewhat less than severe. Nick also has 3 children, Brian, Suzanne and Julian, from a previous marriage.
In 1978 he was promoted to Muqaddam and assumed command of WFR in Thumrait and then in 1980 he became commander of MAM Garrison. He remained in this post until he handed over to his Omani successor at the end of 1987. He then continued to support his successor as deputy commander until he finally left Oman in 1989.
Nick and Lena retired to Salisbury and he enjoyed many years of retirement while Lena continued to work in the UK – which, she assures me was very much her choice. She eventually retired herself not long ago at the age of 73.
Nick suffered from deteriorating health towards the end of his life but maintained a circle of friends in and around Salisbury. He died in hospital on the 3rd of January 2022 following a fall at home a few days earlier. He was 92 years old. Our thoughts are with Lena, Adam and Kristina and with Nick’s extended family at this difficult time.