The Flak Air Defence cell on shore
was manned by the army and although an additional Regiment squadron
leader was u1ised as the RAF representative there, he was not included
in the subsequent move of the cell from San Carlos to Port Stanley.
Despite The largely avoidable difficulties, the usual
Regiment energy and initiative were successfully employed to gather the
Rapiers and their supporting equipment on shore and to deploy them
operationally in the shortest possible space of time. 63 Squadron
replaced the Rapier defence of the San Carlos airhead. which had until
then been carried out by The Light Air Defence Battery of the Royal
Terrorism in Germany
As a part of widening the IRA campaign of death and destruction beyond the
boundaries of Northern Ireland and undoubtedly because of the need to find
softer targets than those in UK a terrorist campaign was mounted against
British Service personnel and their bases in Europe. Inevitably, innocent
civilians were to be killed and injured as well in these indiscriminate actions.
In May 1988 two groups of off-duty
RAF Regiment personnel
were attacked in Holland, by a car bomb in one instance and by fire from
automatic weapons in the other. In one attack, two Gunners from 1
Squadron RAF Regt were killed, and another injured, when their car was blown up.
In the other, two Gunners from 16 Squadron RAF Regt and one from HQ 4 wing were
shot, One Fatally.
of Honour page)
Events in eastern Europe in general, and in the USSR in
particular, transformed the international scene by ending the cold war.
In the euphoric situation which followed, the British government lost no
time in reducing its armed forces summer had come, and chimneys
which were no longer needed could be pulled down. Unfortunately, the
international stability which had been one of the results of great-power
confrontation was soon to be replaced by outbreaks of instability in
areas outside Europe.
“Options for Change”, as
the unilateral restructuring of the British Services was termed, cut
more deeply in some areas than others but the main result was the loss
of large numbers of skilled and experienced personnel. There was an
understandable decline in the morale of those who remained in uniform,
wondering what they were being retained to do and how long it would be
before they would be declared redundant.
doubts may have lingered about the cost-effectiveness of retaining the
RAF Regiment in an RAF which was under continual financial pressure were
soon dispersed by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 and the
consequent threat to the stability of the Middle East. With the prospect
of having to deploy combat aircraft to forward bases in another country, SHORAD and the ground defence of RAF assets became the first priority,
with NBC defence and ground defence training for all deployed RAE
personnel following close behind.
Operation Granby resulted in the deployment of RAF aircraft and
equipment to Cyprus, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. RAF Regiment officers and
NCOs were distributed throughout the force, carrying out a range of
duties which included NBC monitoring, ground defence advisers and other
specialised tasks. The mobile field laboratory responsible for
identifying any biological or chemical agents used by the Iraqis
deployed a number of field learns, each of which was commanded by a
Regiment NCO, while the helicopter squadrons took their own Regiment
personnel with them into the desert.
The RAF Regiment units in the theatre were deployed at Akrotiri,
Muhurraq, Dharan, Riyad and Tabruk as part of the Allied operation Desert
Shield and included four wing headquarters three Rapier squadrons four
light armoured squadrons and one field squadron All in all, RAF Regiment
personnel made up 19% of the total RAF force deployed to the Gulf.
The Iraqi Air Force made no attacks on targets in Kuwait, Bahrain
or Saudi Arabia - to the great disappointment of the Rapier squadrons.
While the other light armoured squadrons were utilised for airfield
defence tasks, 1 Squadron deployed in support of the RAF helicopter
squadrons operating with 1st (UK) Armoured Division. Once operation
Desert Storm began, and the ground forces advanced, it was not long
before 1 Squadron was once more back in Iraq, where it had been formed
some 70 years earlier! With the abrupt ending of the campaign, the
Regiment squadrons were withdrawn from the Gulf and returned to their
parent stations in the UK and Germany. Nevertheless, the RAF Regiment
was able to notch up another “first into...” to add to the list of
places which Regiment units or individuals had entered ahead of the main
bodies of British forces.
Flight Lieutenant Bell and Sergeant Baldwin had been tasked with
locating chemical weapons left behind by the retreating Iraqi forces.
Moving independently of other British forces, they were halted at a US
Army checkpoint outside Kuwait City and told that only Arab coalition
forces were allowed beyond this point and that they should rejoin the
British Army, twenty miles down the road. Bell replied “we’re not
British Army we’re RAF Regiment” and the American officer in
charge waved them through the checkpoint. They were thus the first
western allied military personnel to enter Kuwait City and reached the
airport just before the first RAF Hercules landed there.
Battle for Meiktila
Post War Years
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