In the 1970s the BBC presenter James Burke ran a series of documentaries named “Connections”.  He chose a core subject and then explored a variety of matters  associated with that original subject.  The loosely connected series of subjects laid out below follow his example. The central core being the war in Dhofar in the summer of 1972  and then jump from one matter to another and are linked together, often vaguely, by that war.


Weather Records from RAF Salalah from the years 1942 to 1971
The Saga of the Desert Boots

The FST emplaned for Salalah with full “58” pattern webbing, boots DMS, ponchos, groundsheets and of course OGs etc
The Resupply Scandal

Signals requesting essential consumables such as Hartman’s solution seemed to vanish into the ether and supplies took weeks to arrive. An operating table that could be adjusted for height, instead of the airportable glorified stretcher that we were using, took nine weeks to arrive.
The Salalah Song.

No comment but there were periods of boredom… This has been reproduced again and again and the originator should be quite pleased with himself that his efforts have had such an airing.

“The Noble Prizes for Dhofar 1972”

And more periods of boredom

“Three hundred Britons in a Secret War”

Newspaper cutting.
RAF base hit in Arab rocket attack

Daily Telegraph June 1972

“Officers who die on a distant battlefield”

Daily Express March 75

“Sultan in Suffolk”

Qaboos bin Said spent several years gaining education and experience in the UK. Two years were spent in Felsham just over the Norfolk/Suffolk border in the rather remote village of Felsham

“Operational Record Book”

The RAF administration compiled an ORB for each RAF Station on form F540. The F540s for RAF Salalah contain considerable information about the medical services and the statistics of illness on the camp

“Additional Documentation – RAF Form 836”

Our administrative masters were keen that we should fill in as many forms as possible including those that were not relevent, at least not in our eyes, to the FST.


Alan Marshall was an RAF telegraphist who was deployed to Salalah to assist with the heavy workload in the Commcen.

“Wind of Ball”

In Napoleonic times it was noted that if a cannon ball passed nearby, especially if it was near the abdomen, a person might die without a mark upon them.

“The Telegraphist’s Tale”

Simon Crozier was a Telegraphist at RAF Salalah at the end of 1975 and for most of 1976.I am grateful to him for the e-mails and the photographs.
FST “Standing Orders”

The RAMC got by on as little administrative clutter as they possibly could.

“The Arab state gripped by a Soviet reign of terror”

This article refers to the Russian influence in PDYR after the war in Dhofar had come to an end.
Now ! Magazine November 2nd 1972

“Anaesthetist in Salalah”

Article published in “Anaesthestia” by Geoffrey Sharwood-Smith

“55 Field Surgical Team  Salalah 1972”

“Medic in a Secret War”

“Surgery in the Front Line”
Articles by Pete Starling for several journals.

“Bullet wound to the skull”

This is a remarkable record of an extraordinary bullet wound to the skull which the patient survived.

“Other incarnations of 55FST”

A long article by Ivan Houghton with a number of photographs. This is an account of other incarnations of 55FST.Other related matters are also included about anaesthetic machines and their development

“Adoo medical provision”

The provision of medical care by the adoo for the adoo was hampered by poor provision of materials and by few trained first aiders. In addition did not appear to have any casevac helicopters……….


What sort of equipment was made available for the anaesthetist in RAF Salalah?

“Death from natural causes”

There were a number of service men who died from natural causes. The relatives of this particular man found it difficult to accept that he had died from electrocution and not from enemy action.A consular official sought me out on a sandy beach in Caorle  (yes my wife had arranged a sandy beach holiday………)  to confirm that the death had been from electrocution and not from enemy action.

“The instant Arab NHS”

A contemporaneous report with no indication of date or journal

“Oman, where women now have a say”

Newspaper article February 1977. Newspaper not identified but author recorded as Frank Robertson.

“What happens when the wells run dry ?”

News paper article by Nicolas Wollaston. News paper unknown but date in February 1977.

Things only get better when traditional oil flow reduces and LNG and condensates come on stream.

“The Technician’s Tale”

David Barrow was the Lab Tech with 55FST. He did, in emergencies, undertake other duties. Analgesic administrator comes to mind.

“The Tri-Service anaesthetic apparatus”

A critical account and analysis of the performance of the TSAA including an inventory of drugs and equipment by Lt-Col I.T. Houghton RAMC

“Battle Casualties”

In this article Melsom et al deal with December 72 to March 73. Unfortunately the Publications Manager from the Royal College of Surgeons in unwilling to allow me to publish it on the website even though it was available “on line”
“War casualties in Oman – a limited experience”

Journal of the Royal Navy Medical Services. Vol 63,  No2 (Summer 1977)  pp85 – 91 Soul O.J

“Case report of an interesting gunshot wound”

A.H. Osbourne

“The last FST in Oman”

Journal of the Royal Navy Medical Services. Vol 63,  No 3 (Winter 1978)   pp 167 – 176  Osborne, A.H. & Raitt, D.G .
A short precis can be found by “clicking” on the Tri-Service badge

“Air attack threat and the air defence of RAF Salalah”

Assessment of the threat and proposed action
(PRO Kew documents released in 2003)


“Casualty Mortality”

Casualty survival after the injured have reached advanced medical and surgical care following wounding is naturally a matter of supreme interest. It has gradually improved (!) as the years and conflicts have gone by.
However obvious it may seem, the variables involved have changed so much over the years that it is invidious to compare the results obtained by one surgical team with the results obtained by another. Wounded survive today who would in 1972 have been classified as “unsurvivables”


“The last FST – Tail End Charlies”

This article shows how the emphasis of the FST changed. More and more civilians were now being treated. In fact the FST could have done with some paediatricians, GPs, a gynaecologist and a dermatologist to win what was now the peace. The changes implemented in DCS15 in the 90’s of course have ensured that there are virtually none of these specialists available for forward deployment. The figures given in this article show that there is an absolute need for such specialists.  The use of such specialists in Afghanistan would not only be humanitarian but help to win over the local population and prove to be a “force multiplier”


“Supporting Allies in counter-insurgency”
I am grateful to Walter Ladwig for his permission to publish his meticulously researched and thought provoking essay on the website. This is now the refined final version of his paper which he published in March 2008.


“Casualty evacuation timelines – an evidence based review”

An article written by Lt Col Paul Parker and published in the RAMC journal. The link above is directly to the RAMC journal and is dependent upon that link remaining in the public domain. The article does not reside on this website.


Casualty evacuation “Op Storm”

The secrecy surrounding the UK’s involvement in Oman demanded that as little attention as possible was drawn to any casualties. It was probably a fruitless attempt.

“Blast injury from PNM Mine”

Peter Isaacs and Bernard Logan

“The Surgeon’s Tale”

John Soul retired from the RN as a Surgeon Captain and wrote an account of his time in the RN for the benefit of his grandchildren. One of the chapters refers to his time in Oman. One evening he “Googled” himself and came across this website. His account makes interesting reading and is complementary to one of the previous documents.

“Surgeon’s reports for April, May, June and July 1972”

These reports were sent to the MOD by the CO of the FST Major Joe Johnston. They were later de-classified and shredded. Happily he held on to the draft copies and has made them available.

“Neostigmine and Diathermy. Yet again!”

Two or three more letters have surfaced from “across the water” – Co Mayo – on the subject of the supply of neostigmine and the completeness of the diathermy machine.

“Palms, blue skies, sandy beaches and warm seas.”

It took more than a little effort to persuade parent units that the FST had been doing rather more than just lying about on a coconut strewn beach overlooking the Indian Ocean.

“Station brief for incoming team”

The FST that deployed in early 1972 did not have quite the military uniform and clothing that appropriate to a sojourn in RAF Salalah. Indeed it would have been difficult to decide what was best but webbing suitable for BAOR was certainly out of place.

“Ambulance and Hut”

The FST did have some problems with transport and with accommodation.

55FST was always happy to welcome visitors who sometimes filled a need when mumps degraded the tactical effectiveness of the regular incumbents. Lacking in a Michelin starred restaurant a fish curry in the Dhobi mens’ lines was the best that we could offer in appreciation of their efforts.
“The Station Medical Officer”

The FST Resuscitation Officer – Captain Nick Cetti – doubled as the Station Medical Officer and saw over a thousand patients whilst we were in Dhofar.

“The Laboratory Report”

Dave Barrow makes several recommendations in his report. Were any of them implemented ?

“Radiographer’s Report”

Roger Hicks suggested that better radiological protection be given, a higher power machine be provided, a standby machine be provided and that better facilities for the development of the plates were also needed. Again did this happen ?

“The Mirbat Gun”

The Mirbat Gun was gifted to the Royal Artillery Museum by the Sultan. It was transported to the UK in 1985 and after a brief period of time outside the Artillery Pavilion in Woolwich has now been moved……..

“Operating Theatre Book”

Sitting in the Croxton sunshine the former OC and anaesthetist felt that it was proper to publish the Operating Theatre Book.

Please note this is a large 10Mb file and takes a while to download.

Each entry consists of two facing pages but they are on separate sheets. The early entries have anaesthetic detail recorded but as this was a tedious duplication of the entries on the Nosworthy cards these details were omitted.

Some of the later entries have been “inked over” so that they could be copied more easily with a simpler photocopier. It is difficult enough to obtain  a reasonable copy with a modern photocopier.

Additionally a “fair copy” of the Operating Theatre Book is included. Those entries in red are entries that were not decipherable in the original document There are more than a fair few mistakes in spelling names.

This record has now been redacted to comply with the GDPR May 2018. As an historical record it now becomes rather meaningless.



“Anaesthetist’s Reports”

There is some variance between the numbering of the various reports when comparing them with the surgeon’s reports. Patients who had procedures under local anaesthetic were not recorded on the Nosworthy cards. Some of the views expressed have a certain bias but the webmaster has to have some privileges !

“Who financed the war in Dhofar ?”

Amongst others the PRO in Kew had the answer to that particular question.
“SOAF Aircraft in 1972”

The Sultan of Oman’s Airforce had relatively few aircraft at the beginning of the war. Helicopters, that the Americans were finding so useful in Vietnam, were in very short supply.

Not populated  yet

“Snowdrops in Salalah”

Steve “Taff” Culliford has provided some insight into the operation of the Provost Flight at Salalah and some record of the entertainments enjoyed in that far flung land in the times before DVDs and..  ……..

“Team Members”

An, as yet, incomplete list of those who served in 55FST. Please help to fill in the spaces. 

“Mine Warfare”

The devastating effects of the detonation an anti-personnel mine had a disproportionate impact on each and every member of the FST who were all quite used to seeing the effects of trauma from other causes such as RTAs

“Radio 219”

Radio 219 was a popular morale booster and was listened to by most people on the camp.
Several short audio clips from Radio 219 recorded by Geoffrey Sharwood-Smith


Interest in this was aroused following the entry about “The Salalah Hook”


A new section of the website linking the patients who were admitted to the FST with the military events taking place at the time that occasioned their injury.  An ongoing task.


“Local Overseas Allowance”

Out of sight and out of mind.
The disadvantages of a “secret” war

“FST Customer Base”

he Field Surgical Team did not source all its patients from one military unit. (under revision)

“Operational Record Book”

The RAF administration compiled an ORB for each RAF Station on form F540. The F540s for RAF Salalah contain considerable information about the medical services  (and the statistics of illness on the camp)

“The Postie’s Tale”

Unarguably the most sought after man on the station when the mail plane came in.


“The Adu is a rebel and he lives up in the jebel”

This document deals with SAFs perception of the adoo and was an attempt to give SAF members some additional information about the enemy”.

“The Anaesthetist’s Tale”

It seemed like a good idea to keep a diary of day to day events at unit and personal level and rather than let the pencilled entries fade away they have been transcribed.

“The Affair at Mirbat”

So much has been written about Mirbat that it is almost superfluous to add to it. However there is always something more that one can add and there is more out there that can be added but there are also those out there who prefer not to do so and do not contribute to the history of the affair for whatever reason.

“Situation Reports”

A number of reports from a variety of people about the situation in Oman and Dhofar in particular are preserved in the PRO at Kew
“Maps and Diagrams”

In an effort to give some meaning to place names maps are being added both as a simple webpage and as Adobe.pdf files.

“The Radiographer’s Tale – 51FST

Sgt Bob Atkinson was the radiographer with the largely “Para” FST that was in place at the end of 1971.  This document is a transcript of the diary that he kept at the time.

“Report from PDRY”

Diary summaries or “Calendar of Events for 1972” from HM Embassy in PDRY

“PDRY’s Problems.”

PDRY had all sorts of urgent problems to deal with befor it could turn its mind to supplying the Dhofari rebels with the arms and ammunition they needed to pursue their war in the southernmost province of Oman. 

“The Royal Army Veterinary Corps”

It may seem a little unusual to include a Veterinary Officer’s report.
However they had close contact with the locals and and had an intimate knowledge of the region.


Psyops activities of many sorts were instituted by BATT earlier on in the war and at one time they had a specifically trained group of four, headed by an officer (Ben Higson) to help the jebalis put together what was going on and screw up the Radio Aden side of the story.


Intelligence matters were run both by SAF and by BATT and were critical to the pursuance of the war.

“Directive from the Commander Dhofar.”

This directive was issued by CSAF to the Commander Dhofar in March 1972.  It was intended to be the basis for SAF, BATT and Firqat operations for the year.

“The Abdication.”

There are many accounts of the “abdication” in 1970 but this contempraneous record from the PRO in Kew is of the signals that went in and out of the CommCen in Salalah on the day.

“Know Your Enemy”

Early on in the conflict CSAF had a crude booklet produced which aimed to assist members of SAF to identify the wepons that the enemy were likely to use.

“The Royal Engineers in Dhofar”

The RE performed an invaluable task in Dhofar mainly in the background. The series of photographs that is being added to this website has come from Sid Pass.  He and other former sappers have added comments to the individual photographs. It is a work in progress which contains many files and folders which will be completed later in this transference of data.It will appear under “Data” in Photographs

Video Links.

There are a number of sites on the internet which show video of interviews with those who took part in the war.  There are other contempraneous videos which may be purchased from the authors and which will be listed in the future.

Operation Simba

Some photographs taken on and around the Sarfait position in 2010

Tawi Atair

This feature was a large sinkhole in the limestone high up on the jebel and a critical supply of water for the jebalis. Much improved by the RE.These photographs were taken on the Veterans Tour of 2010


A long while ago I came across a sheet of “stamps” on a stall in Thetford market place. The insurgents were obviously up to all sorts of innovative ideas when it came to raising money and spreading propaganda for their cause.
Ken Hannah.

His is an entertaing account of his brush with 55FST

Modern Omani FST

Omani field medical arrangements were demonstrated on the Armed Forces Day in 2010

Diseases on Offer.

There were many unpleasant infections to degrade both the insurgents and soldiers.


VT 2010 Notes and images (Not yet completed)

Prisoners 12,13 and 14.

A number of insurgent prisoners were taken at Mirbat by the BATT re-inforcements and were taken to Um-Al-Ghawariff where they were de-briefed by the Intelligence Cell

Action Against Hauf

The time came when enough was enough and the sultan instructed the CSAF – Brigadier Graham – to instruct the Commander in Dhofar – Col Harvey – to strike across the border into PDRY. This could have all sorts of repercussions especially if seconded RAF pilots were involved

The Threats to Oman

It would be naive to assume that the only threats to Oman came from the rebel on the jebel as this intelligence document outlines.

The Incursion at Habarut

This is different take on that shown under the SOAF pages on the website.

Possible Retaliatory Air Threat from PDRY

An assessment of the threat and the measures to ameliorate the threat.

“Op Mahra”

Suggestions were made that if the help of the Mahra tribesmen was engaged it would give the PDRY a headache in their own backyard to deflect resources from some of their activities in Oman where they were assisting the insurgents.
“Enemy Tactics and PFLOAG”

A SAF appraisal of the insurgents, their weapons,tactics and training. Doc-93
“Arms Smuggling to Dhofar

The transition from talk to the tools for physical violence. Arms were smuggled into the north of Oman and across the border from Yemen the south in the early and mid 60’s.
“51 Field Surgical Team”

The first RAMC team which took over from the RAF who handed over in haste…
“General Union of Arab Students”

The dissidents were fought on the jebel and on the plain whilst others undermined the UK’s efforts in London.

“The Postal and Courier Service in RAF Salalah

This account has been put together by John Jackett and by several other contributors

“The Salalah Hook”

The British were no longer in Yemen. They therefore did not need RAF Salalah as a staging post on the way to India. A needless expense ? They did need RAF Masirah however as both a listening and a staging post. It would be convenient to the sultan, in view of the war in Dhofar, if they maintained and defended RAF Salalah.

Said bin Taimur – His account of his reign.

His reign abruptly came to an end in 1970 and just before, in 1968,  he issued a document which purported to give an accurate account of his time as Sultan.

RAF Salalah Presentations

LS and ROSPA Presentations to the MT and Fire Crews at Salalah by the OC Station Wg Cdr Alder.

The Dhofar War – John McKeown

A dissertation  written in 1981 in support of an M.Phil degree at Cambridge. This work, which was submitted for an M.Phil at Cambridge, is widely read on the East Coast of America.

51 Sqn RAF Regiment

The end of tour report does seem to suggest that there was some disquiet when the RAF Regiment was withdrawn.

British Units in Dhofar in December 1971

The constitution of individual units obviously was not set in stone.

Soviet Press Reporting

There are a number of newspaper documents which originate from the “other side” which obviously presents an alternative view.

The Lenin School

The Lenin School was established across the border at Mirarah to re-educate captured Dhofari children into the way of thinking of the communist minded dissidents.

Radio Propaganda

The principal broadcaster of propaganda on the medium wave in the Middle East was Radio Cairo and was based on the ready availability of newly developed and inexpensive transistor radios.

Reflections upon 55FST

This entry rambles on and on covering various aspects of 55FST and trying to relate them to current circumstances.

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Sherishitti Caves
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