Definitely a day of rest because that is what we have done all day. Parade as usual in “coaches”. We have an Asian Major as our coach commander. They give these people (Majors) responsibility without sounding them out first. Yesterday she read out a list of surnames and then said that some of them were lieutenants. I had to go and check which Watson she meant. I sat down with her at Supper, by chance and she ignored me. Today, she had to read out our names and give some instruction and she is absolutely incapable. Why do I complain - because there is nothing else to complain about. Managed to `phone Debbie for a reasonable length of time. This will be the last time before going to the Gulf. We took our large packs and kit bags to the gym at ten o’clock and I am now worried that I did not close the side pockets on my large pack and may have lost my Captain’s badges of rank and some name tags. Otherwise we have all had hours of sleep and listening to the radio. Moved off to
South Cerney at 1700 where we arrived at about 2100 and made process fairly quickly. Went to bed at expecting to sleep until but were woken at 4.30 to move to RAF Brize Norton. Slept in a dormitory with 50 bunks in it. Must be awful with all of them full. Had breakfast at 5.30, boarded, or crammed into double deckers and headed for RAF Brize Norton. A couple of female officers are missing as I write and we are just waiting for our flight at some unspecified time. People are busy changing money to Riyals. Personally I hope we’re not there long enough to spend any. The UN deadline has expired and we expect military action soon.
Wednesday 16 January 1991
As mentioned yesterday; I woke up in a complete daze at 0430 in
South Cerney to have a rushed
breakfast before leaving for Brize Norton.
We did not have to wait too long at Brize Norton and we were off on a
Kuwait Airlines Jumbo Jet by 11.30 and had a superb flight to ; landing a 18.20 our time which is
21.20 local time. It was a warm evening
when we left the plane at King Khalid airport.
We gathered in the new terminal building which is still being
built. This is where the hospital is to
be situated. The CO and Adjutant were
there to greet us and there were drinks and sandwiches. It was actually very pleasant to get away
from the biting frosty air in England.
We had a briefing about our accommodation which sounds quite
promising. It is about 15 minutes
away. I sat beside Alex and Fiona on the
plane. They are a couple with very
little to say to anyone else; although I feel I’m getting to know them
slightly. Biggest present concern is
“who will I be accommodated with?”
According to a news report we got from the pilot on the plane Hussein
has taken personal command of his army and the French have agreed to put their
troops under Riyadh
command. Today, more than ever before I
am missing Debbie and the children. I
start to forget what they all look like - really; not as in a photograph. Next main concern is “when will we all get
Thusrday 17 January 1991
Thusrday 17 January 1991
Leaving King Khalid airport early this morning the siren went and we masked up immediately and took cover. This was the first ever alert in
. We were told after the alert, as we were
getting out of our NBC gear, that the war had started 90 minutes
previously. It then dawned on some of us
that we were surrounded by military planes and that some had gone from
here. The war started, according to the
radio, at 1 minute past the deadline.
Very frightening; not knowing what to expect after the alert and, when
we got to our accommodation we were in and out of IPE twice, once on red alert,
so we had a very disturbed night. We
eventually slept in our NBC suits. After
a reasonably long sleep we managed to take stock of our accommodation. Pretty basic really. At first I could not find a room and was put
into a lounge with six others. There was
no obvious space for me. Eventually John
Hughes poked his head out of a door and said that he had a bed for me. There are three of us sharing and I have a
top bunk. Breakfast was excellent; we
are sharing a canteen with French troops.
There are plenty of salads and fruit.
At we were
transported back to the airport where the hospital is located in a
half-finished airport terminal at Riyadh . This is a barren looking country. It reminds me of King
Khalid Airport , but is very much less
hospitable looking. At the moment it is
not too hot and does not appear to be too cold at night. The hospital is far from ready for action so
we continued to set up. The place is
filthy with dust and it took quite a while to get oriented. I managed to post a letter to Debbie but our
brief tonight said that cargo flights were currently not flying. No more alerts today and some mattresses have
arrived in our rooms. Two of the girls,
one an officer, have had psychiatric referrals. Portugal
Note: apologies for sexist use of the term 'girls'. met one of these women years later and she refused to speak to me.