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Timeline Persian Gulf 1 June 1961 – 31 December 1967

In June 1961 Kuwait was threatened with invasion by Iraq. An ad-hoc brigade battle group was rapidly despatched by air as a Strategic Reserve ‘Fire-Brigade’, summoned from Aden, Bahrain, Kenya and included 2 PARA from Cyprus. The Brigade was positioned astride the Matla Ridge covering the main tank approach from Iraq.

Within five days of the Emir’s request 8,000 British troops had deployed to Kuwait including the carrier HMS Bulwark and a naval task force with the Aircraft Carrier HMS Victorious positioned in the Gulf. Iraq was deterred. The real enemy proved to be the heat, which alternated between 120 to 149 degrees each day, requiring soldiers to drink 20 pints of fluid every 24 hours.

In July 2 PARA was moved to Bahrain and based at Muharraq airfield. They were relieved by 3 PARA in October and 1 PARA in turn in May 1962. This was the start of one-year tours revolving between the three Parachute Battalions, which lasted until 1967.

Companies on tour followed guard, construction and training rotations and were accompanied by their affiliated arms and services. Combined exercises were mounted with the RAF, Navy, The Trucial Oman Scouts and the Sultan of Oman’s Forces as well as including sport and adventure training. Despite rewarding training Bahrains climate was uncomfortable and socially alien for soldiers and initially there was much separation for families.

All three battalions conducted operations during this period , often by companies in rotation to the Oman, Aden and Radfan mountains. One company group was stood by to assist during the communist inspired uprising in Zanzibar in early 1964 but not employed.

In April 1967 2 PARA handed over to the 1st Battalion The King’s Own Royal Border regiment, ending six years of Airborne Forces service in the Gulf.

by Paradata Editor

Paradata Survey

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