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Some 20 years ago this week I was working in my office in the Saudi Arabian capital

-- Al Riyadh

-- I was a F&CO "lifer" setting up security systems for the Saudi MOH hospitals

-- having been there in Riyadh for the previous 13 years !

-- when my boss the British Ambassador called me in.

I thought it was for the normal week end talk

-- "Hows work going?" etc.

But no it was something much more serious. The War... 

 

We of course had been monitoring all the activity for weeks - months even years prior to the invasion of Kuwait..

We had been watching the antics of our "one time ally - and friend - in Iraq" -- General Saddam,

-- who we had previously provided with arms and munitions

-- together with America and most of the European countries

-- to fight a proxy war on our behalf against Iran [Persia] and the mullahs [Khomeini]

-- who had de-throned - the Shar - the holder of the Peacock Throne - in 1979 and fled to the USA. Who had avowed to reinstate him to his throne.

 

Any way what was my boss talking to me about!!! :stars:

I was only attached to the SA Ministry of Health security team.

 

"Maurice" -- he said -- "you were in the Royal Air Force" -- as if he didn't know!!

-- he was a pongo himself

"Well I am afraid to tell you -- they have called up the reserve and I have put your name forward!"

"Sorry sir -- but I am too old" -- I said -- being 52 at the time..

 

"Ahhh! yes -- but you realise that because of your previous rank you are on the reserve till you are 60 !!"

 

SH**T.

 

So thats how MY life changed

-- and found me a week later at Dhahran International Airport

-- having been there many times before in much happier circumstances

-- reporting to the United Nations Unit [being a holder of a diplomatic passport] for special duties.

-- being issued with a blue paper uniform complete with the "Blue Beret"

-- a small side arm -- which we were told not to fire as we were "non-Combatant " and just observers

-- couldnt even "officialy" offer First Aid...

-- Driving in a Land-rover up the Baghdad road in charge of two other blue berets

-- Taking notes and reporting using the "magic brand new" satellite mapping devices

-- Mapping all the Guns, trucks, tanks and bodies that were just laying there - abandoned

 

Life changing !!! to say the least..

 

The main conflict kicked off on my birthday Feb 24th and by the end of March it was all over -- with 68,000 prisoners and possibly an equal number of dead.

 

War isn't nice - pretty or even romantic.

It is - Smoke - Fire - and Death

-- and above all my most prevailing memory the smell of all three and predominantly the last...

It didn't last long and didn't achieve its objectives -- in my opinion

 

But the conflict known as Desert Storm achieved the aim of expelling Iraqi forces from Kuwait, though Saddam Hussein remained in control in Baghdad.

 

They had great celebrations singing, dancing and much beating of drums

-- got medals from the Emir of Kuwait and the King of Saudi Arabia

-- even the HM Queen gave me the BEM -- so I must have done something right!!

 

My wife who was in the compound in Riyadh said that they had had a "Scud" missile land 100 m in front of the compound gates

-- 100 m to the left and they would all have been gone !!!

The British School stayed open during the conflict and she continued to run her department.

-- as did the other school teachers

 

After coming back to the Embassy in Riyadh at the end of the conflict

-- I resigned after 34 years in the service of Her Majesty.

This wasn't the life that I wanted for my family, Mary or Christopher

 

Was I -- right or wrong ??-- I have asked myself that - many times over the years

 

As I said previously

 

Life Changing to say the least!

 

The memories Never leave you!

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