55 Field Surgical Team RAMC

The Radiographer’s Tale

PERSONAL DIARY

Sgt Robert ATKINSON RAMC

5 FST SALALAH SEPTEMBER TO DECEMBER 1971

Weds 29/09/71

Arrived BFPO 66 at 0900 local
Straight in at the deep end the relieved team (RAF) said welcome – here it all is – Goodbye out on the same aircraft.
Within 30 minutes 6 Burns cases arrived after a stove exploded within a tent, Although the burns where extensive they were superficial.

Thurs 30/09/71
Quiet day spent clearing up and sorting out the FST to our requirements
I Patient – Injury to ankle

Fri 1/10/71
First operation Mine accident case from RAF FST X-Ray shows # below left knee

Another ankle to X-Ray
Appointed official photographer

Sat 2/10/70
1st Battle casualty, Arab Civilian (believed to be enemy) GSW Chest Hip and Elbow also # lower end of Humerus

Sun 3/10/71
Off to work with a bang, Casualty arrived as we did, Rocket casualty, shrapnel / GSW thigh and back
2nd casualty GSW Thigh, Bullet entered buttock exit above knee – no serious damage done
7 cases for x-ray
2 Cas, 5 CXRs

Mon 4/10/71
Visit to Hospital in Salalah town
Evening stood to:- to receive casualties
Eventually 5 cas arrived,
2 Deceased, 1 serious injuries (severe arm & facial injuries) upper arm amputation performed and facial injuries cleared up.

Tues 5/10/71
Woken for Cas incoming by chopper
Shot in abdomen VSI (Steve S/SGT BATT)
Op lasted six hours 22 pints blood given during the day
Meanwhile 3 other cas arrived
I Minor GSW to ankle,
II Compound Wrist #
III Through and through GSW shoulder which smashed the bone

Steve’s condition causing concern overnight

Wed 6/10/71
Steve appeared better today, trying to arrange casevac soonest

Thurs 7/10/71
Steve due for casevac today
Further cas GSW Thigh smashed femur – OK after op.
Steve’s flight diverted ?

Fri 8/10/71
Steve died during flight
Unpressurised aircraft used for casevac not VC 10 as promised.
One further casevac today.
2 more cas today – 1 GSW in the buttock other GSW ankle

Sat 9/10/71
Quiet start,
Sent down to Salalah to warn team of incoming casualties
3 Cas arrived:-
1 abdominal wound
II Knee and upper arm
III Forearm
Subsequently warned to expect 6 more cas. 7 arrived at 1700
One deceased
1 Brit and 5 local soldiers
I GSW Wrist
II GSW Elbow
III GSW Shoulder
IV GSWs Shoulder and heel
V Shrapnel to Knee and Forearm
VI shrapnel wounds to Neck, heel and upper arm
Operating continued till 0130

Sun 10/10/71
Quiet day,
one routine CXR
One Colles #
REME tech requested for MX4

Mon 11/10/71
One wrist x-ray
Med tech arrived from Cyprus and condemned MX4
One patient with appendicitis
Body of Deceased British Officer flown to Muscat

Wed 13/10/71
Quiet day Film and processing chemicals arrived from Cyprus,
SNAFU on Medivacs Refrigerated plane sent by the powers that be!!

Thurs 14/10/71
Changed X-Ray chemicals and put hardener in the fixer
Otherwise quiet day
Too good to last

Fri 15/10/71
0230 awakened incoming casualties
0530 Cas arrived, Mine injury
At Operation:- R Leg amputated, Repair to Scrotum, Unilateral orchidectomy and repair to perineum, Left leg looks bad may lose it.
Finished at 1300
1900 warning casualties x 8 incoming
2 critical and 6 others
Arrived at 2030
2 Critical DOA others: –
I child Penetrating wound to chest with Haemothorax, requiring thoracotomy
II Child multiple shrapnel wounds
III child penetrating wound to pelvis # Iliac crest and L V4
IV child shrapnel wounds
V female Shrapnel in back
VI female with through wound to buttock and thigh
Finished at 0100

Sat 16/10/71
0900 2 patients for X-ray, Then in drips for the morning
1900: One CAS GSW Shoulder, simple in appearance, But
Bullet entered R Chest
Damaged all 3 lobes of the lung, through the Diaphragm and liver eventually underneath the Liver deep to small bowel,

First thoracotomy I have witnessed.

Operation nearly did not get off the ground as his mates would not donate blood

Eventually operation was successful finished at 0200
Bullet was long nose 7.62 Heavy machine gun type

Sun 17/10/71
Later start following last Night
X-rayed the patient from last night (Hameed)
Then nothing till lunch, Sunbathed and then down to the pool

Mon 18/10/71
Another Quiet day
Radiographed the two thoracotomy patients
After lunch went to the pool

Tues 19/10/71
Nothing on the battle front again to day
Rained a fair amount in the afternoon and evening – all hands to the tents.

Weds 20/10/71
Quiet day once again
New x-ray set installed, needs a new tube, generator power still not high enough for the set

Thurs 21/10/71
One battle casualty today GSW in the arm and leg Speaks good English (thought to be a deserter from the Trucial Oman Scouts S/Sgt) –Arm amputated and leg plastered.
n the evening 2 casualties from the merchant navy (? Rayzut)
One head injury one back injury

Fri 22/10/71
Ramadan started yesterday, things may be quieter for a while,
Our first day off.

Sat 23/10/71
Another quiet day.
Afternoon at the pool

Sun 24/10/71
One battle casualty, through and through GSW forearm with #Ulna, graze on thigh
Visit of the Chief of the General Staff

Mon 25/10/71
No Casualties today, spent the afternoon on the beach.

Tues 26/10/71
No battle casualties today spent the afternoon at the pool
One patient later in the evening, head Injury from a brawl at 22.30

Weds 27/10/71
No Battle casualties today
Siren (Incoming) tested this pm

Thurs 28/10/71
No Casualties again today
Camp came under attack at 17.30
No rounds inside the perimeter of the camp
2 x 75mm rounds and one mortar round fired at Hedgehog bravo
One Strikemaster damaged undercarriage on landing no injuries

Fri 29/10/71
Day off spent at pool

Sat 30/10/71
Nothing happening today, spent Morning spent at the pool
Afternoon spent waiting for non-existent patient.

Sun 31/10/71
One Battle casualty stone chips only from a ricochet

Mon 1/11/71
One battle casualty (female) injured by a Zero rocket 8 hrs prior to arrival, with an almost complete traumatic amputation.
Died on the table.

Tues 2/11/71
Quiet day, no casualties.
Stood too pm for mine casualties.
No injuries.

Wed 3/11/71
One casualty from yesterday’s explosion arrived – no significant injuries.
New processing unit arrived.

4,5,6/11/71
Nil of note

Sun7/11/71
2 Battle casualties this evening
i, a brit chest and femoral wounds DOA (exsanguinated) femoral wound missed before arrival
ii, an Arab? firqat small piece of shrapnel in chest

Nil of note between 07// and 11/11/71

Thurs 11/11/71
2 Battle casualties today, both relatively minor wrist injuries

Fri 12/11/71
X-ray tent & pathology burnt down, everything completely destroyed.
New set of kit indented for.

Sat 13/11/71
Inquiry into cause of fire, not electrical may have been discarded cigarette into box of unused tent age

Sun 14/11/71
Today the big clear up after the fire,
I battle casualty, GSW in leg – Accidental discharge

Mon 15/11/71
All burmails replaced after the fire
Corps exams

Tues 16/11/71
Erected new marquee this am for X-ray & Path
I Battle cas pm GSW to skull through and through wound,
Op craniotomy 21/2 hours

Weds 17/11/71
Yesterday’s CAS died at 03.00
Camp attacked twice today; no rounds arrived inside camp perimeter.
2 battle cas both mortar wounds to the leg

Thurs 18/11/71
X-rayed both yesterday’s casualties, films taken to local hospital for development.
Both had shrapnel in limbs 3-4in from entrance wounds.

19,- 24/11/71
No entries.

Thurs 25/11/71
Most of new kit arrived, spent the morning assembling and installing,
In the evening borrowed chemicals for processing unit.

Fri 26/11/71
Awakened 0600 by Tom 4 battle casualties expected in 20 mins,
Arrived 0730
i, Batt soldier GSW in buttocks
ii, GSW wrist, Badly damaged
iii, GSW groove across his back
iv minor injury

It would appear that the “Adoo” use explosive rounds

Sat 27/11/71
Patients improving after operation

Sun 28/11/71
One B/C this evening
Batt. soldier with GSW to L buttock
X-ray shows bullet lodged beside sacrum 4in deep, looks as if it was deflected of coccyx

Mon 29/11/71
End of Ramadan, in the evening lots of celebratory rifle fire from town direction, some spent rounds landing on the Twynam roof, whilst sitting in the Sgts mess garden.

Tues 30/11/71
No Patients moved about 100 sandbags in the ambulance.

Weds 1 /12/71
Quiet day again

Thurs 2/12/71
Remains quiet

Fri 3/12/71
One casualty at 0750, shrapnel wounds to legs from grenade

Sat 4/12/71
Two casualties these evening from Mortar or rocket
Both Children

Sun 5/12/71
Quiet day

Mon 6/12/72
One battle casualty this am Grenade injury R upper Chest

No Diary entries until 17/12/71

Fri 17/12/71
One casualty at 1300
GSW L shoulder no bullet in situ.

Sat 18 /12/71
Quiet day

Sun19/12/71
One casualty in at 1630, Minor injury

Mon 20/12/71
Quiet day

Tues 21/12/71
In the middle of a Typhoon
8 Casualties arrived together
i, Head injury DOA
ii, second head injury died on Table
iii, GSWs to Neck Pelvis and L arm
iv, GSWs to L arm, Forearm ankle & R thigh
v, GSWs across scapula incl. #
vi, GSW through forearm
vii, Bullet lodged in thumb
viii, Minor injuries
Operating finished at 1900
Camp came under fire at 2300 5 rounds RCL landed outside the perimeter

Wed 22/12/71
Quiet, still very windy

Thurs 23/12/71
Remains windy, Sgts mess draw in the evening

Fri 24/12/71
Padre in for X-ray nasal bones (fighting)

Sat 25/12/71 Christmas
Battle casualty at 1150, GSW back, bullet entered in midline over sacrum causing # also #R Ilium
2nd casualty at 16.30 Crushed hand.

Sun 26/12/71
No Casualties
Commenced clear up prior to handover to next team on 30 Dec.

Mon 27/12/71
Clear up continues
Mess Dinner with Sultans armed forces in SOAF HQ.

Tues 28/11/71
As above

Weds 29/12/71
Mess farewell in the evening (Mas Salaam)
Presentation of ties etc.

Thurs 30/12/71
Hand over to next team.
Incoming Radiographer Sgt Pete Blackburn
Then straight on to the C130 to overnight in Masirah

Fri 31/12/71
Masirah to Akrotiri to Overnight,
New Years eve.
Not allowed in the Mess as not in possession of “Mess Kit”

Sat 1/12/72
New year’s day
Akrotiri to Brize Norton and Home

After thoughts

Really great experience to have had, being part of such a small team, having to be a bit of jack of all trades from Photographer to Stretcher Bearer, to Ambulance driver, to OTT etc

Quite a lot of down time amidst periods of extreme adrenaline.

Made me a little disillusioned with the Job at BMH Colchester, insufficient work to keep me gainfully employed.
I decided that I wanted to work in a busier environment.
Left the Corps in June 1972