Sunday, September 24, 2023 | Rabi' al-awwal 8, 1445 H
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A Rat in the Aircraft


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:

The following dawn we went down to our headquarters in the Rori Lagoon. In the midst of the road the two front teams were ambushed. Apparently, the enemy knew beforehand of our arrival. One team was under my command, the other under Khoda Bakhsh. We engaged in a fierce fight, many sustained injuries, three died. In the turmoil of the fight, we resorted to trees to screen ourselves from the enemy. I remember Corp. Khoda Bakhsh and his team resorted to a hole in the ground in an attempt to avoid the bullets. Though the place sheltered them, they, nonetheless, came out with the stench of a camel’s carcass.

From my team Private Saif bin Salim al Kalbani fell from a thigh injury. He was surrounded in his place by the enemy. On my initiative, Salim al Farsi (from Dhank) and I went to save Saif. After taking the weapon from his hand, lest it fell in the enemy’s hands, I pulled Saif to a secure zone. We managed to save him despite the volley of the bullets falling upon us. By the grace of God, we were saved.

The fight dragged on due to rain and fog, and we were about to run out of ammunition. Platoon 11 was under the command of Srg. Mohammed al Busaidi. I remember amongst the soldiers some were from Miskan: Homaid al Kalbani, Ali al Kablani and Said al Kalbani, all were behind us, away from the enemy’s fires.

Platoon 11 began attacking the enemy from the northern side, as a result of which the enemy retreated. All our injured and dead were taken to the Headquarters, and, subsequently to Om al Ghwarif in Salalah, where our regiment was. Saif was sent to the British army base in Eden. He came back cured, thank God. (That base was closed down by the end of 1966, thus no more soldiers were sent for treatment).

Our platoon was on leave a few days later, and we travelled by plane to Masira Island. On our arrival, we went to the office of the wali, Abdul Rahman al Raisi, originally from Takiyya in Muscat. We were accommodated and catered for in the manner pre-arranged between both military and civil service.

We were due to fly back the following day. Our flight was delayed, thanks to, we were told, a rat in the engine. There was the fear that the naughty rat would play havoc with the plane. Some cats were brought in an attempt to catch the rat, but to no avail, as they were too big to get into the narrow parts of the engine. Finally, the engine was sprayed with a chemical locally known as “tezaab”, and the rat died.

We overstayed for an entire week. Enjoying the island’s attractions, we saw, for the first time, a railway line. On our asking, we were told that the British built it to move from the sea to the base. At that time, the flying route for the British army stretched from the Moharraq* Base, the Sharjah Base, the Farq runway and the Salalah Base (al Mohatta) to the Eden Base. The plane, which I remember looked like 130C**, took us from Masira to the Farq runway, from where some vehicles took us, each to his village, for our annual leave.

In the last days of our stay in Masira, I met Corp. Salim al Hosni from the second company in the wali’s office; he and his company were on their way to Salalah to replace our company during our vacation. The following day we left early in the morning for Farq to board the flight that would take us again to Salalah.

*In Bahrain (the translator).

**As written in the source text (the translator).

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