A TROOPERS VIEW OF GULF WAR 1. 30 Year Anniversary!
Some words and images attached, as requested by the Household Cavalry Museum. x
I was a 19 year old Trooper in August 1990 when the news came through that Saddam Hussain’s Iraqi forces had invaded Kuwait, and the rumour mills started to circulate that we might well end up going to the aid of the Kuwaitis.
The Life Guards had recently moved from Windsor to Sennelager in Germany, taking over from the Blues and Royals as a Challenger 1 main battle tank regiment. I recall going on summer leave back to England, and remember my dad joking that I would be up to my neck in sand this time next month. How true those words would prove, and how mortified was my father at such a joke! He sadly died 18 months later following a short battle with Cancer.
Returning from leave in August time, the regiment was to hand over their pristine Challenger Tanks to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, who had been tasked with initial deployment as part of 7th Armoured Brigade. The regiment was to take over the Tanks of the RSDG, and most of their fleet was far from battle worthy, however the regiment worked hard day and night with the expert guidance of the REME to bring these tanks back up to speed and battle worthy in late September early October 1990.
I recall conversations with one of our two SHQ Troop 3 Bars COH Ian Roberts and the rest of the lads about such a scenario and that it was likely we would be going, Banj Barry was our other Troop COH and of course we had a great leader in James Hewitt, along with the rest of the fine officers and senior ranks in command.
Quite daunting at the time, but the professionalism and mature words of our boss made things seem OK, and we just cracked on as normal. A Squadron eventually deployed on Boxing day 1990 to be attached to the 14th/20th Kings Hussars, as their 4th (D) Squadron, whilst the remainder of the Life Guards squadrons and support elements where deployed in various capacities, including Battle Casualty reserve (BCR), CVR (t) Recce troops, REME, echelon, RQ supplies etc so most of the regiment where involved in some capacity.
It was my job to drive the Squadron 432 Armoured Ambulance at this time (14B), with Steve Vaughan my commander and Sqn medic, and Graham (Jock) Auld also Sqn medic and fellow crewman, and we would be ghosting behind OC (Mr (Captain)Tarlings Challenger) for the duration.
We quickly settled into acclimatising to desert life as a Sqn, with training and further tank maintenance, and some unexpected wet weather, and entertained ourselves within each troop hide with various sporting activities, football, sqn runs, volley ball, cooking, top fresh scoff from SQMC Dave Ormiston, playing cards, and writing to our loved ones and the odd hot tempered fisty cuffs!
We kept ourselves clean and healthy with make shift showers, and the usual shovel recces where mandatory. We had great comradeship in those days running up to the ground battle, and a lot of laughing and a lot of fun despite the pending task at hand.
Listening in to the Air war on SCM Dave Evans radio as we entered February 1991 it was clear the ground war was Imminent, and we formed up and cracked on over the sand burns and into the breach early on 24th February 1991.
A poignant memory as a driver of the 4 day war was being closed down for its entirety, and catching sleep when you stopped or a bite to eat, and listening in to the internal and external network as the war progressed, it was a bit of a twilight zone experience.
As the war came to a conclusion we picked up a injured Iraqi soldier, as the enemy where surrendering in their thousands, and we took ownership of the poor sole in the back of our 432 Ambulance, treating him as best we could for a gunshot wound to the lower abdomen, and administering Morphine to keep the chap as comfortable as possible. He sadly passed after a day or so, and that made us sad!
As a British Soldier we are trained to save and preserve life without compromising our own safety, well-being and lives’. The sights and smells of the battle field during the gulf war where harrowing, and quite awful at times with many dead and charred bodies, tanks and positions, but the enduring memory is of a great bunch of very young lads and men who showed how awesomely inspiring and professional a British unit can be in battle. RIP the Lost on both sides and much respect to my fellow friends and mates and comrades in A Squadron The Life Guards, the Household Cavalry and the rest of the regiment. Top guys. thankful I never pulled a trigger in anger! x x