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The military soul of the RAF

The Dhofar Rebellion took place between 1969 and 1976 when rebels attempted to overthrow the ruling Sultan. A number of RAF Regiment Squadrons were deployed to protect the main airfield. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the RAF Regiment and in this guest blog, Ray Pelcot tells us about his experience in Dhofar and the impact that being part of the RAF Regiment has had on his life.

I joined the Regiment when I was 19 as a surveillance operator and a machine gunner. My initial posting was at RAF Wittering but within six weeks of finishing basic training I was in Dhofar at RAF Salalah in the Oman taking part in Operation Storm. We were defending the airfield, which was the only firm base at that time for the Sultan's forces.

RAF Salalah Dhofar Province Oman 1971 - Image Copyright RAF Regiment Heritage Centre

The Regiment was a specialised airfield defence unit used to working in small teams and therefore ideally suited to the role in Dhofar.

Being in Dhofar was a big adventure for me and a great challenge living and working in the arduous environment with the demands of continuous duties on a 24/7 basis for the length of the tour.

I left the RAF as a Flight Lieutenant but the Regiment is very much one company - I was fortunate to serve on the Parachute Squadron on three occasions. Once as a Junior NCO, a Senior NCO and as an Officer and the friendships I gained were through the common bond we had, rank had virtually no meaning when parachuting as we were all equals.

I still have friends that I met in the Regiment when I was 19 years old and I'm now nearly 64. The strength of the Regiment is that it’s a huge family. People are proud of their service and that's primarily because they are dedicated people who care and look after each other, whether that's in the more arduous circumstances of operational service in places like Oman or Northern Ireland from the early days when I joined to the present day in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, that camaraderie is still as strong and it’s still as necessary today as it was then.

A senior RAF Officer once said the Regiment is the military soul of the RAF and that is true to a degree because of the way it operates, from the field Squadrons to low level air defence and to the vast force protection today.

The Regiment and the people I met while serving made me the person I am today so I can say, like many others, I am proud of my service and those I served with.

The 75th anniversary is a huge milestone that I'm proud to be a part of. Since its inception the Regiment has provided that key element to the Royal Air Force as well as support to organisations like the Air Cadets. This is an opportunity to celebrate all of its achievements.

The Regiment is a family and the RAF Benevolent Fund is a significant extension to that family. During my service I've seen the Fund provide short-term help for somebody who may be bereaved to long-term assistance for families who are fairly destitute. I still make my annual contribution to them because I strongly believe the Fund has always been there for members of the RAF and they will be there for future generations too.

Further information

If you served in the RAF Regiment, or are currently serving, and need support, please get in touch with us today.

The RAF Regiment Heritage Centre is based at RAF Honington and is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. To visit, you must pre-register first on the website.

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