RAF Salalah

Dhofar Provence Conflict

Muscat & Oman

1969 - 1970


I served for thirteen months between April 69 and May 70 on detachment at RAF Salalah in the Dhofar provence of what was then known as Muscat and Oman.  This was the best posting of my short but much travelled RAF service.

It was at the start of one of the UK’s little known wars which ran between 1969 and 1976.

The Wikipedia entry on the rebellion puts the overall civilian & military death toll of the conflict at around 10,000.

The General Service Medal (GSM) for active service in Dhofar is actually one of the rarest issued.

Some forty years later I discovered that others who had served at this remote Gulf outpost at that time were actively on the web hoping to make contact with the people they had been with there.

The websites targeted at ex military personnel are commercial and restrict the size and availability of photographs but in truth there were very few on the web of Salalah, the RAF airbase or the wider conflict from the 1969/70 period.

So, I have published these Salalah pages to share the photos and brief memories that I and others have still managed to retain in the hope that they may now be of value to those or the families of those who served there.

I cannot help but retain the genuine good nature and humour of my many colleagues who put up with doing our bit for Queen, Country and the Sultans. It has served me well throughout life.

The were some hysterically funny moments for us but they can wait to be more accurately conveyed by others more naturally gifted to do it.

I would ask everybody in the Oman, Dhofar and Salalah veterans community to search again for their photos, negatives and slides along with the stories to accompany them.. I will carefully restore them and feature them for posterity on this site. I am determined to keep the site going for as long as I can and have committed to a further three years with a pro hosting organisation to keep the site alive.

Site Update October 27th 2018   (Photographs added from Richard Hubbard and another from Andrew Clarke)

Alan Cooper

The first person I was able to establish contact with was Alan who I managed to track down via LinkedIn™. He was a keen photographer and his pictures and recollections are featured on this and on other sites.

His contributions enormously lend both substance and credibility to this project.

Read his excellent account on the “Secret War Recollections” page at the top of this page. His account accurately reflects my own observations and experiences. Updated April 2017

I am grateful to the many others who have corresponded with me, filled in the details here and there and promised photos, provided information or generously allowed links to their own sites.

Ed Featherstone

What are the odds - 45 years later on a tiny island in the Atlantic - of meeting up with somebody who was in Salalah at the same time, was the same age and has interesting accounts of the special operations he was involved in. His accounts (and his photographs hopefully) are just too good to pass up. Ed was serving with the Royal Navy.

I am very grateful to Ed for sharing his Dhofar experiences “The Unofficial War In Oman” on these pages.

I will be happy to include and credit any reasonable submissions from others who served in Dhofar and Salalah around that time so I can build up a more comprehensive photographic and record for those who still value the experiences we all shared. 

There are some really excellent sites and organisations that carry information on the RAF Station, the region, the history of the wider conflict etc but here we concentrate on the 60 or so “penguins”(non flying airmen), the Airworks guys, the special forces, the contracted SOAF pilots and civilians that the station comprised of in the 1969 and 1970 era.

Many followed us there, but on much shorter detachments and they lived in a much better protected camp environment than we ever enjoyed. Ours was service at the very sharp end and we had to depend on each other to look after ourselves.

If you served in RAF Salalah or Dhofar and need to acquire a photo or even better, to submit some to be included, please contact me via the link provided.

After leaving the RAF - for a brief summary from Linkedin


contact me at


Site updated October 27th  2018

RAF Salalah - September 1969 to October 1970

Alan Cooper

After leaving Worle Community School in Weston-super-Mare aged 16, I joined the RAF in September 1963 and spent 3 years at No1 Radio School RAF Locking as an Aircraft Apprentice in the 105th Entry.

Following passing out as Junior Technician (J/T) Radar Fitter I was posted to RAF Lyneham and worked in GRSF (Ground Radio Servicing Flight) on the AR1 and other approach radars.

Six months into that tour and after a 20 month courtship, I married Pauline and 2 years later saw the birth of our first son Stuart in 1969.

I was following the old adage about “Never Volunteer”; I thought I would happily spent my 12 year engagement at RAF Lyneham in a comfortable rut as a J/T working on the airfield.

RAF Records had other ideas and despite a six month deferment due to the imminent birth of Stuart, almost three years to the day from arriving at Lyneham, I was posted to RAF Salalah on a 13 month unaccompanied tour.

So in September 1969 I left my young wife Pauline and 5 month old Stuart in the capable hands of my parents and flew out from Lyneham in a Britannia (Whispering Giant) to RAF Muharraq (Bahrain) and then by Argosy (Whistling Tit) from there to Sharjah via Masirah to eventually land on the Moon; or at least that’s what RAF Salalah looked like to me at first sight.

On walking down the steps of the Argosy I was greeted by a very happy Corporal; the very Scottish Jim Smith. Jim shook me warmly by the hand and informed me he had been detached to Salalah from Muharraq to fill the posting gap caused by my deferment and he would be leaving on the Argosy after it was refuelled.

(I was to later meet Jim at RAF Buchan where we were both Sergeant Shift Supervisors)

We spent the next hour in the air transit lounge chatting and me being introduced to others including the Radar Sergeant in charge of GRSF Len Hodby. Len and I made up the Radar Section and he would become very important in kick starting my RAF career.

In a just over a week it would be 1 October 1969 and what would become the start of the, yet to be authorized, qualifying period for the Dhofar GSM and a very interesting and formative tour.

February 22 2014

Learn more about my career since leaving the RAF in 1981 at my LinkedIn™ page



Read on by selecting Alan’s “Secret War Recollections” and his personal Info link at the top of this page.

© The Tons Association

The Unofficial War in Oman - Recollections from 1969 -1970 - Updated 16th May 2018

Ed Featherstone

I had joined HMS Yarnton, a coastal minesweeper, in late August 1969 for a tour of duty lasting 12 months (unaccompanied if you were married) with two weeks leave in UK in the middle.

As the Sub Lieutenant on board I was responsible for navigation and watchkeeping, although I was still to be awarded my Bridge Watchkeeping Ticket and my Ocean Navigation Certificate.

Without those two pieces of paper I would not be promoted to Lieutenant and I would be “withdrawn from training” after having already served almost 5 years. So, no pressure then...............

February 2014

Read on by selecting Ed’s “Unofficial War in Oman” and Personal Info links at the top of this page.

Ray Kane

updated June 2014

Commissioned into the British Army in 1965, Ray Kane served in Germany and Libya before joining the Omani Army as a Contract Officer. Commissioned as a captain then promoted major within 18 months, Ray Kane served for two years as Red Company Commander, Desert Regiment, in the Dhofar War. He led the Red Company palace assault group that seized Sultan Said bin Taimur al-Busaidi on 23 July 1970, in the coup d’état that started Oman’s renaissance, and in which Ray Kane was wounded by pistol-fire in the leg.

Leaving Red Company in 1972, Ray Kane next commanded Firqa Forces – tribesmen irregulars, mostly ex-enemy. He was “sacked on-the-spot”, and quite rightly too, in Kane’s opinion, by Colonel Mike “Oddjob” Harvey in May 1972, after shooting-up the RAF Salalah (Dhofar) Officers’ Mess and its open-air cinema.

Asked by friends if he had been drunk, mad or both Ray Kane replied:
‘Neither, I did it for the Craic.’

Andrew Clark

added May 2018

Sultans Summer Palace Flypast by the Beaver and a Strikemaster 1970

Andrew Clark is the first contributor from Airworks who, since making contact in April 2018, has spent his time in thorough discussions with Alan and Ed sorting out fact from fiction from the varying accounts of the Dhofar insurgency and the coup d’état in 1970. Andrew has contributed two stunning photographs for the collection and I am currently condensing his sizable recollections together into what I hope he can agree will become his own contributors page.

Andrew has provided numerous informative links to expand the current collection available. These will also be added soon.

The Airworks crew from Christmas 1970

added October 2018 (credit Andrew Clark)

Richard Hubbard

added October 2018

25 pounder gun emplacement (Main camp 1970)

Richard has added a further boost to the overall collection of historical photography that the site features and these are displayed on the “Richard Hubbard Photos” page on the main menu. Most feature Salalah from February to July 1970.

I recognise many of the faces including some contributors to this site and the first Dhofar Camel Spider.

(Pity it is only a baby one but we are moving in the right direction)

All site areas can be selected from the top of each page

Singapore & Gan - Photographs and recollections from All  Updated March 2017

Other Contributors - Photographs and recollections Updated October 2018

Cpl Paul Brabbins Army Signals RAF Salalah 1969/70

Warrant Officer John Reed RAF Salalah 1969/70

Barney Wragg RAF Salalah 1970

Chief Technician Geoffrey Jerman RAF Salalah 1968/69

Sgt Brian Henderson RAF Salalah October 68 - September 69

Kevin Kearney RAF Salalah 1968/69

Junior Technician James Saunders RAF Salalah 1969/1970

Warrant Officer Roy Douthwaite RAF Salalah June 1968 - July 1969

Alistair Attwell - Pictures of Mirbat from 2007

Sgt Alan Cooper and SAC Tom Bramley RAF Salalah 1969/70

Dave Gladwin - BFPO 66 Station Postmaster 1969 and 1977

Andrew Clark - Airworks , Salalah & Muscat 1970 - 1972

Richard Hubbard - Masirah & Salalah 1969 - 1970

“More about information” - Alan, Ed and Tom

updated April 2017

Links Page - Essential links

updated March 2017

Oman - Information and links page

Further Reading - Coup D’état Oman by Ray Kane updated June 2014

- visit “Further Reading”  section at top of this page for prologue to book.

The Small Print...

Copyright notice.

All rights reserved. All photographs on these web pages contain embedded copyright information and may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the written permission of the photographers.


The author cannot be held responsible for any loss, direct or consequential resulting from use of this site and contents.


RAF Salalah - Photographs and recollections from 1969 -1970

Tom Bramley