RAF Salalah

Dhofar Provence Conflict

Muscat & Oman

1969 - 1970


An introduction to this site Edited June 2019

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. I finished my tour in UK Forces hospital in Bahrain actually missing my TOUREX flight by three weeks but that is another story for another time.

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 looking to make contact with people who had been 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 some value.

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.

In retrospect, there were many genuinely funny moments for us but I leave that to others more naturally gifted to do it. A few of our contributors seem to excel at this.

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 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 hosting organisation to keep the site alive.

Substantial Site Update June 18th 2019 (additional material added 20th September 2019)  

(New Article and Photographs added from Mike Strong and Gulf Aviation photographs from Len Woolley)

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.

Mike Strong

Mike made contact in June 2019 to supply a riveting account of his time as relief SATCO. He ended up doing around four months over four stints in 1970 between January and November. Like the rest of us he actually loved the place and as he kept a diary, his is the definitive account for names, events and dates.

You must read his account,  “RAF Detachment Salalah” can be selected at the top of this page.

Catch 22 has nothing on Salalah, we were for real...

More from Tom........

I have written brief commentary notes to accompany the many photos in the “Salalah Photos Tom Bramley” page above. This is to spare you all my prolonged accounts and relies on the premise that a picture is worth a thousand words. Most of mine are clearly not but then the place did look like a detention camp.

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 officers, Airwork guys, special forces, 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  www.linkedin.com/in/tom-l-bramley-a2988938

Recent updates history

Site updated October 27th  2018

Further updated on June 18th 2019

Last updated  July 26th 2021

Tom Bramley

contact me at


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



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

The Elusive GSM Dhofar

Recent recollections & the birth of this site.

Tom Bramley

Two events prompted me to establish that I was entitled to the GSM Dhofar.

  1. 1My encounter in 2008 with the “Shabab Oman” Barquentine of the Royal Oman Navy at the Funchal Tall Ships Regatta brought back a flood of memories of somewhere I had not remembered in a very long time. Eventually in 2011 this led to me attending a dinner for the British Legion.

  2. 2At this event the Honorary Consul for Madeira (whom we knew reasonably well) asked me if I had any medals. I replied no - but I would look into it as I had been in active service and probably should have. Her eyebrows were raised at this - so the challenge was quietly noted by me and accepted.

I finally received my GSM Dhofar on 20th February 2012

One of the reasons to put this site together was to find a use for the haul of photographic evidence I had collated for the records and medals offices  - all to no avail, they could not accept photographic evidence. Or even testimony from others who were there with you.

According to them I had been posted to RAF Masirah because their computerised records said so.

The photographs of the Jebel, Fortified emplacements, BAC Strikemasters, pictures of the Town, Reysut and SAF and SOAF operations proved nothing.

In the end, the RAF Medical branch came to my rescue by digging up my original 1969 - 1970 medical records which happened to tally exactly with my account of them. All stamped “RAF Salalah” naturally.

All in all it had taken 8 months to win the battle, not bad when the GSM was 42 years overdue in the first place.

For your information.....regarding Masirah.

In 1969 and 1970 the local inhabitants of Masirah were not allowed to live in houses by the Sultan as punishment for the Massacre of the crew of the SS Baron Innerdale that took place at the turn of the century in 1904. The only local dwellings on Masirah since that time were constructed with empty oil drums until 1971.

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

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 sizeable 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 with his wider contribution.

Andrews photos are featured in the Other Contributions section from the top menu

Richard Hubbard

added October 2018

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 June 2019

Other Contributors - Photographs and recollections updated September 20th 2019

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

Len Woolley - Masirah, Singapore and Gan 1969/1970

Flying Officer Mike Strong - Masirah and Salalah 1969/1970

Clive Cheetham - RAF Regiment 37 Squadron RAF Salalah 1969

Peter Watkins - RAF Salalah 1965

“Some personal Info” pages - Alan, Ed, Mike & Tom

updated June 2019

Links Page - Essential links

updated March 2017

Oman - Information and links page

Further Reading -

Coup D’état Oman by Ray Kane


A First Hand Account of the Dhofar Insurgency

Pen & Sword Military.co.uk

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RAF Salalah - Photographs and recollections from 1969 -1970

Tom Bramley