There can be no doubt of the critical role played in the Battle of Marbat by the Strikemaster and helicopter pilots of SOAF.
This account of the battle from the Strikey’s point of view is taken from a talk given by Nobby Grey at Marbat in December 2010. Some of what he said were recollections from David Milne-Smith, Bill Stoker and from Sean Creak. He has kindly provided a transcript of that talk and the photographs of the StrikeMasters.
Marbat Account by Nobby Grey
(Veterans’ Tour December 2010)
The helicopter involvement was in two phases.
The first phase started at about 07:30 in Salalah when with great difficulty due to the low cloud and mist occasioned by the khareef Neville Baker, the duty heli pilot, was tasked to fly to Marbat for the purpose of casualty evacuation.
Nick Holdbrook’s account related that
“Salalah was in the fog and Neville had to lift and grovel his way up the palm trees”
On arrival at Marbat
“He got to the coast and when he tried to land there on the beach, he could see the sand and the water shooting up from the incoming mortars and so on and he was waved off by one of the BATT”
Communications were said to have been very poor and there was difficulty in making contact with UAG but
“he managed to get off a message with a much more powerful 100w transmitter; an HF transmitter. Or whether it was when he got back but I think what he had to say was that it was really serious (and ) at UAG they really got the seriousness of it. That was the first heli involvement”
The second phase was the helis that
“plucked ‘G’ squadron off the ranges and whisked them off to Marbat and landed on the beach under fire”.
“The helis then continued to shuttle the wounded backwards and forwards for the rest of the day.“
“If the helis had not been available, hadn’t been able to fly, ‘G’ squadron wouldn’t have been able to get here and it would have been a different picture“
15 to 20
Neville Baker standing by heli door and assisting Tom Tobin out of the heli and on to a stretcher
20 to 25
Joe Johnston, ChTech Brian Spice and Pete Starling
Sean Creak seen in life-saving jacket (LSJ) wearing his SOAF SD hat on left standing by mini moke
Cluster of OTTs loading injured onto stretchers
SOAF Ops officer Doug Dargie wearing khaki and 9mm pistol belt walking from right to left across screen with “Mac” (SEN), Bud Holder(OTT) Joe Johnston (Surgeon) and BdeB (Anaesthetist) doing very little apparently.
45 to 53
Brian Spice practises his country dancing….
Probably Sean Creak but could be Bill Stoker in LSJ and flying suit getting into mini-moke from right of screen – possibly holding rifle?
Joe Johnston to the right with Pete Starling on the back of the stretcher with Tom Tobin on the stretcher
Sean Creak in LSJ and flying suit (and white scarf?) back to our camera, taking photos
Bud Holder running over to helicopter door
Charlie Parsons – heli pilot – in LSJ and flying suit standing by heli door looking as if he is putting his pistol into his holster