Friday, September 22, 2023 | Rabi' al-awwal 6, 1445 H
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The Metal Animal in the Air, Butting the Skies


The following is my English translation of excerpts from “A Soldier from Oman: Memory’s Nectar” by (ret.) Inspector-General Said bin Rashid Al Kalbani

In April, 1965, orders were issued that our regiment be transferred to Nizwa, where the companies were distributed in the following manner:

A Company in Nizwa (with the HQ)

B Company in Ibri

C Company in Al Jabal Al Akhdhar.

Our company of 60 personnel was to be posted at Al Jabal Al Akhdhar. We set off from Izki through Wadi Hafeen, Oqbat al Arqub to Al Jabal Al Akhdhar. We used camels to carry our weapons and ammunitions. In Wadi Hafeen, we had our lunch (salted fish), which caused our throats to go dry. I was one of the guards that night, and, as per instructions, woke the commander up once the moon came out. The commander, on his turn, woke up all the other members of the group and ordered them to continue the journey. On our way through Wadi Hafeen we found a mud made mosque and a small dam to store water, which was for me a welcome chance to quench my thirst.

At dawn we arrived at the summit of the mountain, where the weather was spectacular. At ten in the morning we arrived in “Qatna”, where I got so dizzy that I couldn’t walk any further. The members of the company said they would help me walk, but I refused, saying, “Either wait or leave”. They gracefully waited for ten minutes. I had medicine and rested.

Notwithstanding the sweltering heat and sheer exhaustion, I managed to restore some of my strength and stood up to continue till we reached the camp. Once in the camp, we had to fetch wood for cooking and heating water. We carried out patrols, kept guard and did manoeuvers. When free, we exercised and played a polo like game: while on our donkeys, we would hit the ball with a club.

During that time, we were briefed to make a runway. We were able to make a dust runway, and subsequently the “Beaver” aircraft began to come to Al Jabal Al Akhdhar.

The Road to

the South

By the end of May, we received orders to go down to the Dhofar Governorate. We called at Wadi Ma’edin and then resumed our journey towards the town of Farq. There we found a huge British plane from Sharjah* waiting for us. We looked at it with awe and amazement and began to say to each other, “How can this rather unwieldy tent take us to the air?!”

To be honest, at that time we hadn’t become used to travelling by car. To our surprise, an altogether different experience was waiting for us. What was more, this metal “animal” didn’t walk on the earth, but flew in the air, butting the skies. This reminded me of our Miskan man talking of the wood (ship) that flew in the air. When the plane took off we all were swept by a wave of nausea and vomiting. We arrived in Salalah City after the sunset. Upon praying Isha** we slept for about two to three hours. By two o’clock in the early morning, we left our beds.

* In the United Arab Emirates (the translator).

** Night prayers, the last of the daily five prayers (the translator).

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