Most of the photographs in this section were taken when the Troop first arrived in Dhofar. Their skin was still relatively pale and in some cases there was the odd roll of fat to be seen. The rolls of fat soon disappeared after the hard physical work on the jebel and the intense sunshine high up on the jebel took care of the pale skin.
“We were only one troop with a few from HQ and I think there were about 70 when we went out but less than 40 came home on the return flight due to injury, illness and in some cases sunburn.” – (Stephen Dennis)
The figures given by Stephen Dennis are quite astonishing. In some way they are not surprising when one considers the photographs of the sappers working on the Hornbeam Line. Hammering picquets in, unravelling concertina wire between those picquets, stacking the coils three high across 53 kms of rocky jebel is a task that was bound to take its toll.
The Troop commander, John Blashford-Snell, records that the troop had to undergo a huge change in climate between home and Oman. They went out to the deserts of Dhofar from chilly Ripon in Yorkshire over the midwinter of December/January 73/74 and he planned “a week’s intensive training aimed to getting them acclimatised and building up a protective tan on their skin”
(It is almost unbelievable that he was given the advice, presumably by someone in the RAMC, that a week was sufficient to acclimatise especially when one considers the hard physical work they were to undertake. No wonder so many fell by the wayside – Webmaster and future Occupational Health Physician)