Gerry, Bud, Mac, Pete, Roger, Pete
55FST had been briefed to go to Dhofar primarily in support of BATT who were based at Umm al Guariff some two or three miles to the east of RAF Salalah
The FST however had been established, in partly tented accommodation, within the confines of RAF Salalah. In addition to the BATT commitment the FST provided the surgical cover for any other Brtitish Forces in the area, for the sultan’s army(SAF), the sultan’s airforce(SOAF), local civilain contractors (Taywood) and often for, the then very rudimentary, Salalah civil hospital. The FST resuscitation officer – Nick Cetti – also acted as camp medical officer.
Transport to ferry us to and from our various duties was critical and no vehicle was forthcoming from the RAF. 60 Sqn RCT in Sharjah bent the rules and placed a Landrover Ambulance at our disposal. This vehicle had either been driven down to Salalah by BATT or flown down. Despite the very best efforts of our hosts, we did manage to keep it running and serviced. In addition the sultan provided us with a very ancient landrover which we topped up in the palace courtyard from an equally ancient petrol pump, signing for it in the palace office on a chit presented by “The Lady with …..”. It’s main problem was ignition. Luckily it had a very robust battery and attention with sandpaper to it’s “points” would persuade it to fire up but not without a lot of turning over. (I understand that later in the year a more modern one was provided)
On one occasion, after the boys had been downtown, the “snowdrop” at the camp gate refused them entry because the vehicle was not insured.
The FST was housed in both the camp medical centre and tented accommodation. The operating theatre was a wholly inadequate dusty tent which clearly needed to be replaced with something more appropriate. We had our eye on a Twynham Hut, all of whose components were neatly stacked by the airfield. It was apparently required by our hosts for some other non-specific purpose. That purpose went unfulfilled when the owners took their eye off the ball and turned their backs for a few days. A helpful DOE Officer and the RE troop did the rest!