The Anaesthetists Tale

A Personal Diary.

This diary was written during the time that I was with 55 FST. It is therefore a contemporaneous record as are the Nosworthy Cards in the “Clinical” part of this website.
A very few lines and some names have been omitted.

The original diary was written in pencil in an A5 notebook and has been transcribed using the voice recognition software “Dragon Speaking Naturally” so there may be the occasional error.

Monday 20th of March 1972

Via Waterloo and the faster hot train and a glorious day.
Walked straight into 2Fd Hosp- People on the gate but no check of who I was.
Full webbing kit out.
Immunoglobulin not painful but makes one a little woozy.
A four month tour now seems almost certain.
Joe, K and kids.
Ginwick lives in the mess.

21st of March 1972.

Drew 0G sizes were hopelessly out.
Read briefs.
Minimal W.I.
Range this afternoon.
Warm and sunny.

22nd of March 1972.
Square root of F.A. this morning.
No one to show us the kit etc so cleared lads off and went down town for crowns et cetera.
Infection is a bit active at the moment.
Turned up heater and to bed.
Airport 1600 I.D card. Passport. Inoculation Certs.
F.Med 188 I.D.discs
ETD. Flight 6102 24 / 07:30
ETA Masirah 24 / 11:55

23rd of March 1972
GNS – no kids to wake me 22:30 to 07:30
Funnily enough already to move- the lads very hung over this morning.
Bought “Fours” and new sun specs.
Surgeon is AOK. Said cordial goodbye to J.Worthy considering our last contretemps.
16:00 to 18:00 journey via E.Hendred to B.Norton.
They just don’t want to know us. “Oh no. Salalah doesn’t exist.”
Secret(?) loading of baggage and dangerous cargo.
Destination Masirah – Salalah “No you must be mistaken”
Staying in the magnificent Gateway Hotel
Will probably fly direct to Masirah tomorrow with only one hour stop in Cyprus.

24th of March 1972

Oh no – overnight- rather hostile R A F Mess. To Off Club.
BATT on the plane.

25th of March 1972.
07:00 to Turkey, Persia. Masirah overnight and tomorrow stay.
Again RAF Mess not very friendly.

26 of March 1972
A very hot night-only salt water to wash in.
RAF quite determined not to fly today as its Sunday even though they have the plane.
27th of March 1972
08:50 Andover flight plus baggage.

Yes Salalah is all everyone said it is.
Tony B and John Carter to meet us on the runway relieved to be relieved.
Went down to the local hospital – indescribable squalor down there.
Our first shooting.
19:00 LMG at a Land Rover.

28th of March 1972
First GA today – Tony Booth with a PID!
I.V. Valium.
Casevaced him lying on a stretcher with plenty of pethidine.
Then a GA for man with haematuria.
In p.m. went to UAG up the very bumpy road to try and get a briefing from BATT.
Called in at Salalah the civil on way back to camp and found a CS about to be started – no anaesthetist – one doctor had given 500 mg Thio to this hill woman in her 10th pregnancy and sixth child, who was vomiting copiously.
This having failed they were holding her down and were about to commence when catching sight of us they said “Oh yes we knew the doctors from the RAF would come”
But they raised not a finger to help.
We went for the Haloxaire and I anaesthetised very dicky patient.
She lived however-the child was a bit sleepy from the thio, ether and halothane they had given the mother but Joe resuscitated it.
Many of the relatives attended the operation.
Later in the evening compound fracture of the talus in an RAF man on whom the crane had fallen.
Very hot today.
Last of all the poor old Pakistani man from Taqah.
He had been put ashore two months ago on a pilgrimage to Mecca having been told “It’s only over the hill.”
He had walked down the coast as far as Taqah and there whilst about commence his evening meal was shot in the leg and arm by stray bullets.
The adoo get in as close as 400 m there with RCL.
We fixed him up and finished at 02:00.<br

29th of March 1972
Nothing today.
Captain ***** known.
Roger the croc and also Nick Downie’s son, who has been bitten by this land and has left — and become a “contract” sergeant with the SAF hoping for a commission.
I must say the swimming pool is better than running.
The patient that we meant to have operated on today didn’t turn up in hospital.
Went to the souk.
Wrote to bank manager

30th of March 1972

Went to hospital.
Baby, mum and Pak 1 seem well.
Lunchtime brought a G S W of hand and a mortar wound of R shoulder in a S A F which required amputation and 3 pints of blood.
To Jebel Regiment tomorrow for curry lunch.

31st of March 1972.
Late start – all patients well.
Clutch went on LR on the way to UAG.
Very nice curry lunch.
Major General who is director of planning there.
Dinner tonight in officers mess

1st of April 1972.
Two hernias this morning in the local hospital.
The **** down there really are idle.
The mortars 25pdrs and SOAF caught a camel train in front of ‘B’ this morning with a fair amount of success.
One mild gunshot wound this evening.
There is news that the adoo are bringing up a field gun with ‘two triggers’.
Visited ‘B’ and ‘C’ today.
Film in the evening.

2nd of April 1972.
A very quiet day.
Didn’t do a thing apart from read.

3rd of April 1972
DPS on the pilgrim this morning.
Letter from Marian to that Jim Lad had been admitted and * later discharged with bronchospasm.
Quiet afternoon.
Two mortar wounds at 20:00 both very severe.
One a lad of 19 had suffered ricocheting rock which entered the right hypochondrium, pierced gut, contused the caecum and entered the stomach.
He vomited the two fragments!
We excised portion of bowel and anastomosed and debrided and sutured stomach wound.
Bed at 02:00

4th of April 1972
A hernia down at the civil hospital and a couple of DPS up here.
The new Twynham is now rising out of the earth.
It will make a very nice theatre cum resus and X-ray.

5th of April 1972
A DPS in the morning.
Then went up to “B” with Henry.
Watched a shoot and shot my SMG.
Took teeth out of two of the soldiers under GA.
Our clerk was one of them.
The met man went sick this evening with pancreatitis.
Salalah was hit by RCL at about 20:00
Siren went here.”B” was also mortared.

6th of April 1972
It appears rockets may have been used.
Carved a haematemesis today.
He appeared to have a hobnail liver and a massive spleen with empyema of the gallbladder.
Had a good sun and swim today.
Visited BATT p.m. and S A F.
Int states that the Aden Radio announced that the RAF rocketed Salalah last night to keep down the civil population.
Also that the adoo RCL, the shell storage area and burned the tanks.
Three hundred girls have passed out of the Yemen training school and 120 have been assigned to our area.
Sixty have been seen coming down the Wadi in front of “B” with two RCL and mortar.
Apparently they intend to attack B tonight or tomorrow night.
They mined the Raysut road again last night.
The RCL landed near TW last night, almost in their houses.
These are the first shells to land in Salalah town since ’68.
Joe has orchitis.

7th  of April 1972.
Well the adoo didn’t attack ‘B’ last night.
Joe markedly unwell today.
To raised. glands etc.
Atypical monos. to go to SMC.
Signalled UK for a further surgeon.
Meanwhile asked Masirah if they can send theirs down.
Joes temp up to 104° this evening.

8th of April 1972
 FlLt doing leave relief in Masirah coming down.
Joe quite unwell.
Massive, tender R epididymitis now.
Temp up-and-down up-and-down.
Casevac Monday.
A TAVR Major is coming until the 14th.
One mining this afternoon.

9th of April 1972
Joe still quite unwell.
Quiet day.
Joe much better this evening – boozing.

10th of April 1972
Joe now refusing to go home!
Spent a delightful afternoon on the Salalah beach.
Joe now almost cured.
One small op in the hospital this morning.
Went to the film this evening and spent some time chatting to Gerry Honey.
A better squadron of RAF regiment are also coming.

11th April 1972.
Quiet day.
Joe still in bed improving.
Treated as Seaman of the MV “The City of Guildford” who had crashed his hand.
Quiet sleepy afternoon with film in the evening.

12th of April 1972.
One in the hospital this morning.
The locals are very twitchy.
The lads flew that pennant from the L/R today and will be confined to camp.
The first fighting patrol goes tonight to the Wadi Thrim.
Have thaly for the bowel.

13th April 1972.
DPS this morning.
Commenced Septrin.
John the Vet down with worms and how.
Cable and Wireless man was chased out of town last night after a dustup with another motorist who pulled a gun on him – he was given asylum in the camp and went out on the Viking.
The atmosphere in town is noticeably tenser.
They are twitchy.
The Askaris on the town gate also getting a bit bolshie.
Gwarrif have sent us a signal ordering us to clear our caps FST has many casualties are expected-
The fighting patrol of last night only penetrated 1200 m and then got lost.
There is another going out tonight from Bravo to Charlie.
There have been men seen infiltrating between Bravo and Charlie tonight and patrol has gone out from A mainly Sultan’s Gendarmes.
Hospital asked that I anaesthetise for a vaginal hysterectomy – refused.

14th of April 1972.
Another quiet day.
Reading and swimming.
Two men came in by chopper in the evening who had been mined on the road to Raysut.

15 April 1972.
Today started with a man with his foot blown off at Raysut – one place I am not going swimming!
The chief RAF surgeon visited this morning and offered a blood bank.
Airwork may be able to make a tin leg for this man.
Taker Ahmen has been deserted by his friends and seems very sad these days.
I wonder if they are feeding him?
Mohammed Pais, Khalfan and Mohammed Khamis came to see us from UmmAl Ghwarriff today-all fit happy and well.
The town and the hospital were deserted this afternoon – must be some sort of holiday.
We swam on the beach for a while.
The adu have produced to field pieces with a range of 18Kms and are shelling Akoot.

16th of April 1972
A quiet day.
Got my films back.
The chief RAF surgeon visited a few days ago and promised us all help and blood bank.

17th of April 1972
SOA F have been flying strikes since six this morning and the choppers have airlifted troops and supplies down to near the border – no casulaties yet.
Developed a blinding headache at about 08:30 which lasted till after lunch.
The only contact SAF have made has been with six civilians?
Write to M Holiday
Henry firmly believes they put down in a location well distant from the had.

18th of April 1972
Surprise, surprise MOD AMD 1 have at last reacted and sent Peter Craig of all people to that Joe to see if he is well and if he’s not to replace him.
No patients today.
An alarm whilst in the cinema.
Bravo was attacked by adoo who set up three LMG positions in a crescent at about 300 m and fired.
It actually rained last night.

19th of April 1972
One GSW of harm came in.
Wounded at 23:30 last night.
Bone badly shattered.
Last night was the occasion of the thunderstorm lasting fully two hours.
More frightening than I’d ever seen and a torrential downpour.
The whole place is flooded.
One SAF soldier was killed by lightning and one injured.

20th of April 1972
***** was a very tight last night after his curry in the dhobi lines.
Two very badly mutilated men came in both having been mined near resident.
They took from 08:00 to 12:00 to clear.
The RAF mortar bombs are under 16 feet of water in their shelter.

22nd of April 1972
 Salalah Sunday-I think.
Quiet day.
Found Bryce Smith inducer for the EMO.
To the hedgehogs in the afternoon with CO and Peter Craig.
 In evening went to the dhobi lines to eat curry.
The Baluchi played his pipes and Chiefy, Nick, Peter and I were later joined by Joe!.
The adoo attacked “alpha” halfway through this – having come down on camels.
Two unidentified jet aircraft flew over the airfield together.

23rd of April 1972
Talk about foul bowel.
Peter, Nick and I had a very rough morning.
We explored a thyroid carcinoma in the hospital.
Peter went out on the C130

24th of April 1972
Adu attacked B last night.
Have gone on a diet.
AOC NEAF visited today-we had three amputees to show him!.
We took a cast from stumpy.
Long letter from Marian posted on the 17th.
The adoo made a diversionary last night and then appeared to use RPG-12 62mm A/T at Bravo.
They obviously use the dead ground now out of ZB 298 cover.
Sultan’s uncle was killed down West a few days ago along with four others.
The airfield at the front is under LMG fire and fixed wing can no longer use it. Rotating can.

25th of April 1972
Sent film.
Two cheerful letters from Marian-indicating a trainee in anaesthetics is on his way.
A very badly mined casualty this morning.
Leg with a fragment of foot blown into the opposite side.
We were in the tent till 12:00 with the cooler non-functional and temps in the 120° F range and again this afternoon.
I completed the male from the female mould of “stumpy’s” stump.
It would appear that a typhoon is on the way.
Are the big push.
Today was the logistic buildup.
i.e.the square root of bugger all.
The “O” group was said to be a pantomime.
Ray Schofield brought in an adoo turd in a tin to show where they had been!

26 of April 1972
Not much doing today-one poor old man wounded by our own mortars.
Not in very good shape.
The new Twynham was open this evening with our beer and curry party.
A seaman is coming off a tanker tomorrow with a ? Fractures spine.

27th of April 1972
Fractured ribs-performed and I.C. nerve block and sent him on his way.
Notified of eight casualties at 16:20 from Akoot.
They arrived at 19:40 and turned out to be four.
One was a Brit officer.
They were on patrol and were returning when they were fired upon by their own Saladin!
We also operated on a lad who is from Mothercat.
Three  days ago he was driving from Taqa in a lorry when he was ambushed by the adu and shot in the leg.
They took into the Jebel and kept in their interrogating him for three days.
They attempted to persuade him to join the Adoo.
They claimed they would send him to Hauf and that the Adoo had doctors in the hills who would treat his foot.
They moved about constantly every few hours from tree, to rock, to cave.
Finally they put him on a donkey back to Taqa.

28th of April 1972
Quiet day – letter from Mar.
Prophet’s birthday.

29th of April 1972
Acquired a camp bed to lie on in the sun.
Letter from Marian who has been sailing with the CO.
Katie seems to be showing some reaction so asked for the tape recorder.
Went to the SAF briefing they refuse to admit that it has been their own side who shot up four people the other day..
Henry does not get on too well with the CO at Guarriff.

30th of April 1972
Screaming for us to gas for a Caesar at the hospital.
Went very well.
Live boy.

1st of May 1972
A gibbon was sent down from Midway with a wasting disease.
X-rayed it, took its blood and filled it full of Alcopar, iron and vitamins.
The mumps has me strongly in its grip.
The glands but not the constitutional upset.
Hope it spares my balls!

2nd of May 1972
A couple of minor cases.
Only one fresh.

3rd of May 1972
Moved into the new Twynham hut at last.
Went on the most interesting tour of Salalah, old Salalah, Mamurah with  Jack Sullivan the Int officer from U al G.

4th of May 1972
One splinter wound, the CSE show and early to bed with one hell of a headache.

5th of May 1972.
Still the headache.
Two dead in today.
One SAF with neck, arm, wounds and leg blown off up by the hip.
AP mine at Akoot B I D
Second was our first BATT.
“B” Squadron only out here a week, his first patrol, married.
Four of them with a firqa at the border.
Also some camel handlers.
In the morning the camel handlers had vanished and three very accurate mortar bombs appeared from the skies.
Four of the firqa were killed and the BATT man (Tpr Martin) took mortar fragment in the right scapula, albeit a small one, which must’ve ploughed right through his main vessels.
Quite stiff on arrival.
We will deep-freeze him down to -25° C and then solder in a zinc coffin to send him home.
The death certificate, as the politicians insist, will be made out as “accidental drowning while swimming” with no other contributing causes.
Four hundred are said to be massing to attack Taqaa sometime in the next few days.
Akoot has had hell hammered out of it today – as usual.
They are going to abandon it for the monsoon.
The Jebel has been very heavily shrouded in mist until about 11:00 for the last two days now.
The no-moon period is coming so we should be attacked fairly soon.
MOD have said that the 0.5s  should be moved from the hedgehogs as it is escalating the war!
Early bed again with nothing but a headache to keep me company.

6th of May 1972
Fever in the comfort of the SMC.

7th of May 1972
Still fever.
And in the SMC.
Seven casualties today.
One a Brit I.O. from UAG.
Thrown out of three-tonner and landed on his head.
A depressed fracture.
Another  with the splinter wound of the frontal bone showed a star fracture.
We opened his head and he is alive and conscious.
The rest were minor.
The fort at Akoot has been smashed.
BATT are having to withdraw from the jebel because of lack of chopper and SAF support.
The adoo are said to be going to attack a prestige target on the plain.
And to top it all there is the possibility of a Mig strike from Yemen.
With their fuel capacity from their nearest suitable strip they could have 5-10 minutes over RAF Salalah.
The Sultan has also protested through the U.N. over Yemeni aggression.
Saw the James Bond film this evening.
Joe has discharged me from the medical centre.
Pargin discharged himself and is in “deep wasser”.
We had a Brit leg casualty as well.

8th of May 1972
Quiet day only one gassing.
Went to the circus.
They passed all the first aiders and the helicopters for evacuating the casualties -but not the FST for treating them.

9th of May 1972
Well things have really hotted now.
There is a strong possibility of a Mig-17 strike on this airfield.
If they came overland, which they probably would have fuel reasons we might have three minutes warning.
They don’t carry bombs apparently but strafe with rockets and cannon.
Not a pleasant thought.
Saw “The Railway Children” tonight. A superb film.
Also news of replacement – Brian Logan, “Cocky” Stocky and Mike Pinder.
Mid July.
The morale that fell with the Mig news rose with the letter from B. Logan.
I wrote one back to him……………….

10th of May 1972.
A quiet day.
One case.

11th of May 1972
Couple of cases and an afternoon by the sea.
There was report in the Telegraph on the ninth about the border incident.
The Americans have mined the N.Vietnamese ports.
They will start WW 3 if they are not careful.

12th of May 1972
Business in morning and afternoon.
Including one emergency BATT tooth expertly pulled by Robin.
Some drunk SAF major loosed off for rounds of SLR just outside the officers mess, just missing Bill the MATCO
When escorted off the station back to UAG he loosed off the rest of the magazine at the officers mess!

13th of May 1972
 The new RA a replacements come in the middle of next month including Tony Crichton as O.C. and Ashton-Wicket as 2 I.C.

14th of May 1972
Joe carved out an enormous thyroid lump yesterday – 3hrs worth.
The woman appears well today.

15th of May 1972
The war in the West appears to have quietened down but the ZB contacted three camels and two men going north-east last night.
Mortars engaged.
Henry saw 30 camels on the far ridge at first light and scrambled the Jets to them.
All movement now appears to be towards Taqa which the adu always had during the monsoon.
Maybe they want it again.
BATT are not happy, they are getting virtually no co-operation from the firqas or from SAF
The death of Tpr Martin has made UK newspapers – as did the fight at Habrut.
With had no casualties in for a week.
Started running three days ago to get my weight down.
Judy the Gibbon has died.

16th of May 1972
The war seems to have died down in the West but 480 adu -hard-core -reported to have surrounded the plain and intend to take Taqa and try and take Ma’murah.
This presumably during the monsoon.
The diet goes well and the training goes well and the weight comes down.
Made up a parcel of bits and pieces for Marian today – slides, MT, Cards and some to the children.
Removed and an enormous tumour from a woman’s belly.
First air raid warning today -mid-afternoon.
Seem to have plenty of time to read at the moment.

17th of May 1972
Only spent a very small time in hospital this morning.

18th of May 1972

Had a woman in from Taqa last night hit by RCL in the arm – the worst wound I’ve seen in ages.
It was just below the bifurcation of the brachial.
It was warm though this morning in spite of the tied vessels.
We had a surprise Masalaam arm for Ted last night – the case interrupted it a fair amount and we eventually at curry at 23:00

19th of May 1972
Salalah Sunday.
Worked it up to 6 times around the pitch in three goes of two.
It’s still coming off.

20th of May 1972
Opened at tubercular kidney in the hospital this morning-took three hours.
Once more the “Haloxaire” triumphs!
Went to the souk yesterday to take photographs and the fish market.
There were some reporters there from the outside world who were a bit offended when “Minoxed”.
They tried to gain admittance to the camp the day before yesterday.
John Clemenger has returned from his visit the sultan’s horses.
The SAF dentist was there and condemned some of them on account of rampant caries.
We operated on a cat this afternoon.

21st of May 1972
Nick, Gerry Farrell and Bud Holder went off to Muscat yesterday for a weekend off.
We had the stumpy’s walking on the wooden leg also yesterday.
One BATT Capt, a member of the Sultan’s bodyguard came in on the plane from Mutrah today.
He had a bad compound #  of the ankle two days old and filthy.
Robin Garnett rescued him from the “hospital” up there.
Robin leaves at the end of the week and someone called Brown from Millbank replaces him but only five weeks!

22nd of May 1972
Brian Morgans, the RAF surgeon from Masirah has come down for a few days to see what goes on.
Ian Rumfitt of all people replaces him there in two weeks.
I have met the new BATT doctor somewhere before but can’t figure out where – he came in today.
Had a letter from Bernard Logan who seems to be quite keen to come out.
They expect to be here on the 25th and UK have promised that we will be back in the UK by 1 August-I’ll return home by train.
Gassed Joe Nickson this morning for a tooth.
Janet is at Woolwich.
Young Nick Downie is leading a firqua up at Midway.
Brian Porter went out with a patrol this afternoon and brought down some fire on the adu.
The helicopters went off down to the West, four of them to do something this afternoon.
It’s all go!

23rd of May 1972
One or two things in the afternoon but otherwise quiet.
Went to “alpha” this morning with Brian Morgans and Hugh Stott.
Fired a vast quantity of SMG ammunition.
The going home fever has become very severe.
Partly I think to the lack of mail planes.

24th of May 1972
One hydrocele in the hospital this morning.
We also discovered a woman who had been there for 36hrs without GSW of the face.
A terrible mess.
The war seems to be on the increase again.
The Adu attack the “Royally” reoccupied position at Habrut each night with small arms, LMG and an ” artillery weapon not yet identified”.
The opposition is quite fierce.
0P Simba has moved into phase II and Capstan feature has been occupied and the plain dominated.
The BATT have moved down to positions overlooking the wadi from White City and exchanged fire.
A 25pdr has been moved up to Taqa.
The fort at Al Mamurah is being wired to the DG.
Still no mail plane in.
Five casualties in this evening all minor from capstan-after they consolidated their position, they used un-scalable cliff as part of the position – the adoo scaled it with a 2ins mortar and played havoc.

25th of May 1972
 Hugh Stott found a 13lb mine between A and C.
U al G thought it’d only be laid about 8 hrs
The Strike masters laid into Hawf this morning.
This is about 3 miles over the PDRY border and the divisional headquarters of six section.
Apparently all the intended targets were hit and shipping sunk in the harbour.
A pre-emptive strike I suppose.
It may though attract the Migs to us.
Talking to the station’s OC Hawf was the’s HQ of PFLOAG; an organisation not ‘in’ with the PDRY and just tolerated.
The PDRY jets are Russian manned and are very tied up with the Saudis at present.
The OC’s visit with Peter Hulme to Muscat was to point out to Qaboos that HMG would or won’t threaten to withdraw all military help if SOAF struck across the border.
At about 06:00 anyway they knocked out the HQ, the stores, a training camp and three dhow transports in the harbour.
Peter Hulme had his plane shot up.
One bullet going into the cockpit and nicking his leg.
Hauf apparently have no early warning system and apparently not even telephone communication with the rest of PDRY area.
I presume that they have a radio link.
Five casualties in from Simba this evening.
One with the wound deep in temporal lobe.

26 of May 1972
Called the hospital this morning to see a woman with half her face shot away.
Gerry said last night that she was and how do suspect because she ran away from the ‘Porter Patrol ‘
More likely she was just scared.
Peter Hulme returned again this morning with a new plane-shot full of holes and streaming fuel.
Another strike master burst a tyre on landing.
PFLOAG AA gunners are having a field day-in five days all the S/M will be grounded at this rate.
Another Caesar today for foetal distress.
Almost straight after a very pleasant curry meal at the Mehdis.

27th of May 1972
 A fairly busy day with two casualties from last night’s affair.
The adoo crept in behind ‘B’ and let them have it from the back.
Then on their way out attacked them from the front.
Something of a cock up occurred as Henry thought there was a helicopter over the position.
All this happened at 11:30 p.m.
Yimkin Airways plane in has gone u/s so no mail today.

28th of May 1972
The u/s plane has flown straight back to Akrotiri lest it breakdown here!
So again in no mail.
SOAF a have dispersed all their aircraft around the airfield and some choppers to Um al G in view of the expected air attacks.
Still no sign of the six Bofors from Cyprus.
It would appear that the last time Peter Hulme was hit his engine cut out 18 miles away and he had to glide in.
SOAF now have 4 s/m grounded with bullet holes.
Aden Radio broadcast today attacking the Oman for sending its planes over the border and threatening dire things for the monsoon.

29th of May 1972
Yimkin Airways- the plane was this morning said to be delayed for 3 hrs.
(  ) told me an interesting thing last night about (CV).
Typical of him.
Anyway the plane came bearing to very cheerful letters from Marian and one from mum.
Some slides also returned-everyone a coconut.
Jets from the PDRY flew over this morning and photographed the area.
If they came to fight I expect it will be at first or last light.

30th of May 1972
The affair of the jets it would appear was only a flag-waving thing.
Still it was strange as they came in dropped to a height where contrails would show, circled, three times and then climbed out again leaving no trails.
Well it looks as if we have beaten the Para-record.
A fairly quiet day today.
BATT go in tomorrow to a village in the wadi Arzat-they’ve “gone aggressive” again.
Last day as a Captain.

31st of May 1972
One BATT wounded with a nasty injury to the vastus lateralis – 5 adoo killed and an automatic weapon and some kit captured.
The adoo mortared ‘B’ with six 82mm from the wadi Jarziz at lunchtime.
Bloody cheek.
Green Archer did not get a fix on them.

1st of June 1972
A fairly boozy night last night.
Webbing sent home today.
Parcel of clothes yesterday.

2nd of June 1972
Only a couple of cases today.
BATT seem to be doing well

3rd of June 1972
BATT have killed 25 adoo and wounded more.
Also capturing some equipment.
SAF were to have patrolled up the Arzat today but the firqua refused to go.
They know the location of the main adoo supply dump for the monsoon.
Weight static 11/5

4th of June 1972
No cases at all today.
Tape from Marian.
The adoo attacked Charlie

5th of June 1972
Seven cases today.
All from Main brace.
Two bellies, one bad limb wound, one head and two pepperings.
Also repaired Sgt Seal and the “lady from the West “.
Finished at 01:00.
The new RA officers bar Wickett arrived.
The adoo attacked the hedgehog to the west of Charlie, Charlie and dropped two bombs on the camp perimeter.
Tracer whistled over the swimming pool and cinema.
Charlie found some of them by ZB, heading N, schermulied them and then GPMG’d them.
Green Archer detected two with a metal load crossing between Charlie and the camp and the 25pdrs bopped them – an eventful evening.

6th of June 1972
Another quiet day.
Didn’t get up until 10:30
No operations today, just lazed.
No attack tonight either.

7th of June 1972
One up here and two downtown but crash Caesar in the afternoon.
They collected hundred firqua downtown proposed to go up the Jarsiz again.
Then at the last moment the firqua refuse to go – as usual!
What’s the use of fighting a war when the “troops” won’t fight.
11/3. Must go back on one meal a day and no alcohol.
The hedgehog “D” has been de-mined and occupied by Ray’s Gendamerie.
That will now protect our left flank.

8th of June 1972
What a quiet day until early dusk when the adoo attacked with RCL.
No casualties taken.
At 20:15 we left the officers mess patio and walked up to the medical centre to a man who had come in from White City with mortar wounds.
At 20:30 when all were there for the barbecue an RCL round landed a foot from where we had been sitting.
Bill Cooper and Peter Hulme were in our seats and were badly injured.
Seven others were injured.
The number was so few because the HEAT round landed in earth.
Second round hit the new SOAF quarters and a third just near the Theatre.
Mortars then broke out and splattered the theatre with shrapnel and then tracer.
Two more alarms went taking until 23:304 the all clear.
The ZB had some good contacts and also Green Archer.
Blood trails were found by morning patrols.
Both Charlie and Bravo were also attacked by RCL and small arms.
Today is the anniversary of the founding of PFLOAG.
We finished operating at 07:45.
I have never been so scared in all my life.
Why the hell are we here anyway?
Nine injured and nine alive.

9th of June 1972
Six trails of blood, vomit and blood and some human entrails were found.
Siren again this afternoon with two rounds RCL from a cave in wadi Jarsiz.
Seen by Hugh Stott and “gunned” and rocketed.
Six more casualties today.
The adoo came within 400yds of the wire.
They also attacked, Taqa, Arzat, B, C last night.
Also White City, Aquib and al Mamurah.

10th of June 1972
Four old DPS today.
The three new legs of arrived.
It is suspected that many mines have been laid around the hedgehogs and mineclearing expedition each morning.
Two blood trails were found by the morning patrols going towards the Jebel.
‘B’ opened up with GPMG on 3 adoo with the aid of schermuli and seen to fall.
One dead camel was also found.
The new (….) is streets ahead of (….).
Met Spike Powell for the first time today.
An f….and b…- character but very honest.
Today’s aerial reconnaissance has just been flashed down from Masirah.
The adoo are concentrating to launch a big attack on us tonight in Salalah
It is 19:30 now.
No sign yet but then it is only just dark.
About 22:00 I would guess and on the hedgehog line.

11 June 1972
Fairly quiet day.
A large deputation came from NEAF to assess the situation.
The two RAF nurses who came in on the 9th will now be able to go soon.
Three small cases today-but we have 11 for Wednesday
No camp attack last night but there was a lot of movement on the plain.

12th of June 1972
It would appear that the team from NEAF had some pretty big rows with SAF.
Army HQ Cyprus have at last sparked and asked if we needed any nursing help.
Joe signalled back “It’s a bit late after four days. No thank you very much.”

13th of June 1972
A big abdominal mass from the hospital and mining from the near Midway.
I must that that vast amounts of free booze have been pushed into our hands from SOAF.
Even had two bottles of champagne from Peter Gordon-Smith

14th of June 1972
A busy day with all the D.P.S. and hemi-colectomy in the afternoon.

15th of June 1972
A fairly quiet day with a few D.P.S.
The monsoon has I think come.
It’s cloudy, very hot and humid-very very sticky in fact.
Nick and I went to the RA’s dining out night and much later went to bed decidedly the worse for wear.

15th of June 1972
Quiet day.

16th of June 1972
Muggy and hot. Cloudy

17th of June 1972
Again and muggy

18th of June 1972
Farewell party for the RA

19th, 20th, 21st and the 22nd
Quiet as quiet.
V.bored and homesick.

23rd of June 1972
 Went to the souk this morning.
A hot but quiet day.
Letter from Marian.
She had heard the news of the attack.
Pity the papers can’t shut up about these things.
It only worries people.
Nick has one hell of a cold.

24th of June 1972
Light dinner, then later fish and chips and even later steak and kidney pudding! Plus Amstel and rum.
The previous teams maximum, Para for 3/12 was 160 so we’ve topped the list.
Had to attend an electrocuted SAC this afternoon.

25th June 1972
British Ambassador left today.
Joe had dinner with him last night.
Six adoo were killed on the plain last night and one captured.
New team is coming out from Krautland on the 14th of next month so we may arrive home sooner than expected.
I’m feeling very GP orientated at the moment and very homesick.
This next month will be a real drag if the workload doesn’t increase.
Recommended exercises terminated through fright on the eighth. 10/10.

26th of June 1972
A very quiet day again

27th of June 1972

28th of June 1972
200 cases.
Bravo was attacked from three directions tonight.
The adoo have claimed they will destroy the hedgehog line in a month.

29th of June 1972.
One case.

30th of June 1972
Another quiet day but at least we’re 200+

1st of July 1972
Going home this month.
“B” mortared very accurately last night.
 No casualties.

2nd of July 1972
Two patients in today-both self-inflicted.
One head and one chest.
Unfortunately both died.
Charlie and ‘B’ again mortared at 15:00.
Heavy rain.
Qaboos came back today.

3rd of July 1972.
One hostile this morning and to this afternoon.
Six  mortar into Bravo and one RCL about 400 yards from where Joe and I were in the Jeep.

4th of July 1972
Quiet day again.

5th of July 1972
They managed to get within 25 yards of Delta last night after cutting the wire.
Marian sounds very well and chirpy at home.
My bowel seems to be settling.

6th of July 1972.
Only one case today 10/6
Things are very quiet.
Our going home date has been put back to 1st of August.
Thank God I booked my leave late.
I’ve now had four boxes of slides to take so I must go man go!

7th of July 1972
Another fairly quiet day.
My cold is receding now.
I think I may actually make my 10st 2lbs without any difficulty.
However very happy with 10/6

8th to 12th of July 1973
All has been very quiet the sometime now.
The only disaster that has fallen has been the news that we will not be going home as early as we thought.
Well done the army planning in MoD!
Marian seems to have had a good time with her mum and with Liz Buck.
No letter from her today and no mail planes in until the 15th.

13 July 1972
Attack at 13:25 today.
The 25pdrs are very short of ammunition and the mortars are running a bit low.
As long as they have enough for the expected attack on the 23rd and enough to protect us through to the 1st August I’ll be happy.

14th of July 1972
Quiet day

15th of July 1972
Again not much.
RCL attack on the South Tower during dinner.
Four rounds from the Thimrin.

16th of July 1972
Little bit of sun this morning but clouded over in the afternoon.
UK LF have demanded our recovery to UK by August.

17th of July 1972
Quiet day

18th of July 1972
Went over with Starling to see Spike’s arsenal.
The NFR are going up the Narhiz, Arsis and Thimrin on the 22nd

19th of July 1972
Written on the 21st
200 adoo attacked at 05:00.
A very concerted go, with them throwing the dead corpses on the wire and climbing over.
Eight BATT men were then locked out of the Fort by the D.G.
One BATT Capt mowed down about 50 adoo with a GPMG from the hip.
One BATT killed, two badly wounded.
We commenced operating at 11:30 and finished 30 hours later.
We did 23 Ops.
Nearly shot Dave.

22nd of July 1972

23rd of July 1972
The adu have kept well away.
Total dead announced by Aden Radio is 86.

24th July 1972
Now have flight dates home.
Flight Germany 7th.

25th of July 1972
Dined out in Mess.

26th of July 1972
Four rounds into Bravo

27th of July 1972
 Dined out at Umal Guariff.
Six adoo were GPMG’d at 350m from the wire.


The last operation done by the “Johnston FST” is recorded as being done by “Pubes” (Pete Starling) with PJC ( Pete Canning) as the anaesthetist. The webmaster  gave up anaesthesia six months after leaving Oman and left the RAMC six months after that to spend  the next twenty five years in General Practice in Norfolk and then a number of years in Occupational Health)

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