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.
(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”
The video that is presented below came from Nobby Grey and David Milne-Smith and I am grateful for their permission to use it. It was taken by DM-S. The copyright for this video lies entirely with them and should not be used without their written permission.
The video is of a helicopter landing on the helipad adjacent to the FST with the first group of injured from Marbat.
Video is yet to be uploaded – not quite sure how at the moment…..