Saturday, September 23, 2023 | Rabi' al-awwal 7, 1445 H
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Our Ammunition on Eighteen Donkeys


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 1996, I met in Salalah my friend Salim Kalbani, who introduced me to a number of my tribesmen whose grandparents had settled there. Amongst them were Ali bin Said al Kalbani, his son Said (to be later the Deputy Director of PDO) and his kin. Through him I also came to be acquainted with Shaikh Majid bin Mosabih al Mamri, the then wali of Taqa and in charge of civil soldiers from the Mamri tribe (with whom Salim was working).

In mid-October, we received orders to go on patrol. In three platoons, we moved from our camp, Om al Ghwarif, to Hamrer, led by the commander of our company, Maj. Revend, assisted by the British Capt. Tem Landen. Distributed into two groups, one in front and the other at the rear, separated by vehicles, accompanied by eighteen donkeys, we set off from Hamrer. With our ammunition and artillery on the donkeys, we headed towards Thamret, and then southwards, where we camped, while the vehicles returned to Salalah. We started our patrols in mountains and valleys, on the look-out for the enemy. It was an uphill task due to the rugged mountainous terrain, and all we had for food was just biscuits, sardine and, of course, tea.

Our ration was delivered to us by the “Beaver” aircraft. We used to call it “Om al Bazar”, for it, as a non-military carrier with the capacity of no more than four passengers, brought us food and water. The latter it would bring in oil jerry cans, and would, as a result, taste of petrol when we drank it. “Beaver” didn’t land, but rather dropped the rations and water to us.

The water we received was usually insufficient, however. One day we went out, all loaded with arms, looking for water. With the rank of corporal, I commanded two groups, following cautiously a local mountain guide. We found water, rather small in amount and smeared with cows’ waste, in the head of Wadi Resham. When we reached the hill the two groups took turns in drinking. One would guard the top, and the other would go down to drink. To clean the water a little we would put our turbans (mosar) above the water and drink what filtered through it. To be sure, we drank just the amount that would enable us to survive, not to die of thirst. Indeed, the water was so scant that we couldn’t collect it; no wonder we returned empty handed.

For the second time I felt exhausted as we returned to the mountain’s summit. To climb down and to climb back up again was a rather exhaustive process. My exhaustion was due perhaps to salt shortage in my body. As precautions we carried both malaria and salt tablets as well as some first aid. After taking some tablets, I slightly recovered, by the grace of God.

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