Codenamed OPERATION STORM. Between 1970 and 1975 a war was fought for the hearts and minds of the Jebali (mountain people) of the Province of Dhofar in Southern Oman. Soldiers from 22 Special Air Service Regiment were deployed under the guise of a British Army Training Team, commonly known as BATT men. The SAS objective was to help the armed forces of Oman win the battle on the Jebel and to deliver the Province from armed communists working from bases in Yemen.
At dawn on the 19th July 1972 a nine man BATT team under the command of Captain Mike Kealy were "stood to" in their gun positions at the ancient capital port of Dhofar called MIRBAT. They came under attack by over 250 communist fighters. As the battle intensified Talaiasi Labalaba a Fijian was firing the 25-pounder field gun directly at the enemy forces who were only yards away from the Gun Pit. Walid Khamis of the Omani gun team and Sekonaia Takavesi another Fijian had been seriously wounded.
Tommy Tobin the medic was attending to them when he was shot in the jaw, a wound that was later to prove fatal. Labalaba was shot in the neck whilst trying to retrieve a mortar nearby. The defence of the Gun Pit was taken over by Mike Kealy and Takavesi until almost two hours later when a relief force of fighter planes and helicopter borne soldiers from 22 SAS arrived and routed the enemy. Labalaba sadly died in the Gun Pit along with a Dhofar Gendarmerie soldier.
The Mirbat Citation
Situated behind the plaque is a very young Yew Tree that was grown by the Allied Special Forces Association. It will be nurtured to frame the memorial in due course. Either side are Ceanosis bushes which flower in the Oxford Blue of the SAS. Underneath is a forged "Winged Dagger" from a factory in the Midlands and donated by a friend of the Grove.
“It may appear that an unusually large number of names have been recorded.
This is because there were on the 19th July an unusually large number
of gallant actions at Mirbat.”
Colonel Bryan Ray, Northern Frontier Regiment, Sultan of Oman’s Armed Forces. 19th July 2009.
Captain Paddy Brady Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC)was attached to 22 SAS as a Medical Instructor of Patrol Medics. This memorial beside the Twisted Hazel tree was gifted by his friends in the RAMC. The Twisted Hazel is symbolic of the RAMC Cap Badge with the snake climbing a pole. It is situated on the right of the Battle of Mirbat memorial.
Squadron Leader Bill Stoker RAF & Sultan of Omans Airforce (SOAF Strikemaster pilot during battle of Mirbat). This small plaque belies the fact that Bill served with many RAF squadrons, flying Hunter fighter ground attack aircraft in Germany as well a member of the RAF Blue Diamonds who flew 16 Hunters in aerobatic displays and also with SOAF flying Strike Master ground support missions in the Omani province of Dhofar, including being in charge of the squadron during the Battle of Mirbat July 19th 1972.
During the war in Oman 1970-1976 he took part in an intensive six week period of bombing during cross border raids in Yemen that were intended to help stop the supply of arms and supplies to the communists fighting in Oman. A veteran of many operations he sadly died aged 50 in 2010 after a short illness. The plaque was gifted by the Allied Special Forces Association.
John 'Lofty' Arthy 22 SAS & Welsh Guards (1954-82) Age 27
John Leslie (Lofty) Arthy joined D Squadron 22 SAS Regiment from the Welsh Guards in 1975. During the Falklands Conflict he was part of the raiding party on Pebble Island on the night of 14/15th May 1982 when two Westland Sea King HC4 helicopters of 846 Naval Air Squadron, part of the Commando Helicopter Force, departed with 45 members of D Squadron on board. The force infiltrated the airfield without alarm allowing them to lay charges on seven of the aircraft. Once all the aircraft had been prepared the raiding team opened fire on the aircraft with small arms and L1A1 rockets. Eleven of the aircraft were destroyed.
Lofty lost his life during a ship to ship transfer in a Sea King Helicopter that crashed into the South Atlantic
Steve Moores 22 SAS & Coldstream Guards
Bob Consiglio 22 SAS & 40 Commando Royal Marines
Gilbert 'Taff' Iles - 22 SAS & Royal Engineers
David Morgan - 13 Flight Army Air Corps
Christopher Gibb - Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers
John Dunn 45 Commando - Royal Marines
Trooper 'Norrie' King 22 SAS & Parachute Regiment
'Jock' Thomson 22 SAS & Parachute Regiment
'Sailor' Maine 22 SAS, Parachute Regiment, Royal Navy, Merchant Navy & Royal Hospital Chelsea
Bravo Two Zero Tree Seat
Robert Consiglio - 22 SAS & 40 Commando Royal Marines - January 1991
Steven Lane - 22 SAS & 9 Para Royal Engineers - January 1991
Vincent Phillips - 22 SAS, 16 Para Royal Army Ordnance Corps & Royal Marine Commando Ordnance - January 1991
Dave Denbury - 22 SAS & 9 Para Royal Engineers - February 1991
"Taff" Hughes 22 SAS & Welsh Guards Chapel Seat
John Heron Royal Green Jackets and 23 Special Air Service
The Sun Dial
Phillip Currass 22 SAS
Enscribed on the Sun Dial
"Phil joined D Squadron 22SAS in 1972 from the Royal Army Medical Corps. He completed operational tours in Dhofar (Oman) and in Northern Ireland. In 1979 he was awarded the Queens Gallantry Medal. During the Falklands War he helped liberate South Georgia and raided Pebble Island to destroy enemy aircraft. Phil lost his life during a ship to ship transfer prior to carrying out a diversionary raid near Goose Green".
Husband, Father, Brother, Son and Soldier. dearly loved and sorely missed by his family.
"There are moments when I wish I could roll back the clock and take all the sadness away, but I have the feeling that if I did, the joy would be gone as well". Nicholas Sparks
Lost in the South Atlantic 19th May 1982
Stimmies Stone from Strasbourg Cathedral
Hughes Meier Brigade Piron Luxembourg.
Ron McKeon - 264 Squadron
Remembering with gratitude Ron Mckeon who through his efforts and enthusiam brought recognition to the contribution of 624 Special Duties Squadron RAF (1943-1944) and through his work brought many veterans and their families together. The Crest was one that the veterans adopted and was entirely unofficial! The 624 memorial is part of the Special Operations Garden 1 at the start of the Grove.
Don "Lofty" Large 22 SAS
Donald "Lofty" Large (27 September 1930 – 22 October 2006) was a British soldier and author.
Having joined the Army as a boy, Large fought in the Korean War and was wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Imjin. He spent two years in a prisoner-of-war camp, where his injuries went untreated and he lost more than a third of his body weight. After his release and rehabilitation, he joined the Special Air Service (SAS) and went on to serve in various conflicts around the world, hunting communist guerrillas in Malaya, suppressing rebellions in Oman and Aden, and conducting deniable cross-border reconnaissance and raids during the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation.
Alex Spence 22 SAS
Memorial to the SAS and Special Forces Support soldiers who lost their lives in the Falklands Conflict 1982.
Brass plaque kindly donated by the Parachute Regimental Association of Newport.