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Copyright © 2012 Ray Dickenson
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With colleagues - picture credit to Brit Army observer / cameraman

Concealed observer gets a telephoto-shot of colleagues entering a safe area (the Gulf).

A patrol of four, we thought we would be under friendly observation before this point.  Met the observer much, much later and got this copy as souvenir.

Strangers only a week or so before, we were still moving OK at the time, descending into a wadi - a small oasis valley (it had a well: a hole in the ground with a tin-can on a rope - the water was foul-tasting;  we used disinfectant tablets).

You can see we were well tired - hefting heavy packs, gear, weaponry and food / water - and having climbed and marched through desert, rocks and hills for some days.

What were we carrying?  Here's a message excerpt - to a woman friend who knows the military terms:-

"Wasn't running at the time - altho' it looks like it; righthand is holding a pack-strap to keep the very heavy pack stable: to stop arms flapping about wasting energy and sweat.

And yes, was carrying the same weight (or more) as the others - don't like pouches hanging about in front of me and just use two large ammo pouches on back of belt - one for (rifle) ammo, one for food/grenades, and one water-bottle [think you can just see water-bottle and flap of grenade pouch].

Everything else was in the big pack (bergen) except for our compass, just visible on front left of belt, and clasp-knife and whistle - hanging from that whitish cord you can see round waist going into right pocket."

[still got issue clasp-knife - w/openers & driver & marlinspike.]

"Those bergens were _heavy_ - a lot of water (very, very heavy) and metal stuff (very heavy), a poncho-roll (solid), very few clothes (lighter).  You couldn't pick those loaded bergens up (too heavy) to put on your back - you'd have to roll it onto a rock or bank and then try to wriggle it on without falling over, 'cos if you fell with the bergen on you wouldn't get up easily."

That headgear: it was worn for understandable reasons.
Because it's efficient (keeping head and body cool) - and maybe tactically useful.

[You can see the two younger guys - who'd opted to wear issue floppy hats - were suffering more from the heat and dryness]

It's like the Scottish kilt: a certain pattern belongs to a certain clan.  That one came from a widespread Omani / Yemeni family or clan, a formidable group likely met in southern Arabian deserts.

[yes, you can see some thin sticks of wood poking out of those bergens; no twigs or branches in the desert for rigging a poncho lean-to for day-time sleeps or emergency shade]

Even earlier `playtime' - in the Far East

playing soldiers in Singapore, a change from jungles of Borneo, Malaya and Thai / Laos border. Got this pic recently off the net; thanks to pal Bob McKean (later of the Gurkhas) who shot and labeled it
You have to feel sorry for us kids
although we're friendly enough - and pretty good at our jobs
we didn't know why we were there


today's world?


Personal Biographical Notes

Past colleagues :- Fijiian fellow recruits and later good pals - Squaddies of "249" - Belgian, Danish, French, German, Italian, Greek, Nederlanders, Norwegian, Turkish & other European good military and civilian friends (some NATO) - Matelots on HMS Leopard's last cruise (remember `hands to bathe' then 'shark' call?) & on HMS Blake - Mil. chums from Aus, NZ, Canada & USA (like Lootenant Brown and his bunch once atop Phu Mû Thai/Laos border) - Pals in the Kenya Army (Masai & Kikuyu) - Crews of many C130's and other air force folk who ignored regs for us - Controllers, (Sopley - Buchan types) - Grass-roots friends in Belize City inc. Mesapotamia and Hattyville.  Also in Belmopan, Tortola, Goose Bay, Nairobi, Miami, Washington, Cyprus, Singapore, Bangkok, Labuan, India, Sri Lanka, Bad Salzuflen, Teutoburger/Harz, Besançon, Pontarlier, Biella, Bassiano, Latina, Roma, Ar Riyãd, Ubon & Udorn & wilder places, and military and civilian do'ers of worthwhile work (& silly stuff) world-wide

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