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Thread: Oman 1978 Beach Terror attack

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    France
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    Oman 1978 Beach Terror attack

    Historic interest has been shown on this forum for information on the incident. If anybody is still interested, or maybe a relative of those lost on the beach, I am the sole survivor and will clear any stories and the many incorrect writings I have seen of this incident. Martin.
    Thursday 1st June 1978.
    We would have left work after 3pm although I can’t remember our exact working hours. It was over an hour to Salalah by bus and we arrived at Tarqa in daylight and had everything set up, 2 of the guys had rods and were fishing in daylight. The sun would have been setting about 7pm and it would have been dark 40 minutes or so after sunset.
    We were talking and preparing food etc and getting settled in to a long evening, I remember we called the guys up from the beach for the BBQ. To my knowledge nobody heard anything strange but of course they already could have been in the vicinity. We would have heard a vehicle approaching as nobody else was around.
    Firstly the location of the attack was on a flat rock plateau, as I face the sea the bus was behind me, to my right was the access road and to my left the sand bar and a lagoon behind the bar. The sea was about 30 to 50yds in front of me, to my right further away was a headland jutting into the sea. From that headland there was beach going as far as could see to the left and forming the sand bar. We were about 30yds from the access road and to my left about 30yds was the end of the plateau which was about 10ft above the lagoon behind the sand bar.
    I was facing the sand bar with access road behind me and the BBQ in front and to the right was the sea, there was somebody to my right and left all facing away from the road. The bus was lit up giving us some light but otherwise it was dark.
    When the firing started it was from behind us and tracer could be seen going over our heads, I immediately hit the ground and crawled to the bus, Terry was stood up in the bus in the front I crawled into the bus then could see bullets coming through the seats and decided it was not a good idea slipped out of the bus and underneath, I could see the bullets hitting the axle and shrapnel flying everywhere, I crawled towards the lagoon passing Alan who was on the ground, I said come on but never saw him again. I dropped into the lagoon off the plateau followed by a very heavy Chris who landed on top of me, he then left me and continued around the inland water to the left. I stayed put, completely immersed in about a meter of water with rocks either side a convenient place as my head was above water but I could easily slide down beneath the water for more cover if needed.
    I had a pair of swimming trunks on which were now ripped to shreds as I landed on a rock and gashed my bottom, not helped by the weight of Chris landing on top of me! I then could hear a lot firing and watched the tracer pass overhead. After awhile I could hear them packing up, the attack would have been between 10 and 11 pm. Eventually I saw vehicle lights across the lagoon taking a road up a hill, a long way away. I felt safer but had no idea what the situation was above me so I stayed put. All night I was being nibbled by the minnows which was annoying but I was alive.
    Around 7 am I heard jets and felt great, 2 Jaguars did a high pass followed by some lower ones than a 205 came over very high and eventually came down I was waving and they saw me, a crew member came over and took me straight to the Helicopter, the scene was obviously not good and I think they kept me from seeing most of it. I certainly cannot remember any detail other than being given a towel as I was virtually naked. I was taken to Salalah base hospital and my wound was dressed given something to wear and interviewed.
    In the interview I was informed that there were 3 positions set up and over 200 rounds were fired.
    There has been comments from some based in Salalah that we should not have been there and it was forbidden at that time, as far as any of us was aware we were only doing what many had done before and I believe the anniversary of the ending of hostilities was the following week. Also we were in an air force bus booked out with permission from the powers that be and no mention of any risk was given to us. I am also sure that if a risk was felt to be present then we would have been prevented from travelling or been made aware of it.
    The bus I believe was a Nissan 20 something seater very light weight and airy.
    Last edited by Martin19; 14th June 2018 at 20:14.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    21
    Salam, I will be very interested in listing to u, u can start by telling us a brief lines about this event.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    21
    I came across a,thread in the forum talking about it, based on what I understood the location of event is beside town called Taqa (incorrectly mentioned as Tarqa in forum) .
    the beach name is Khor Rori ("Khor" is arabic for Estuary, Rori seems unknown ancient word ).
    Today this beach is considered protected archaeological site with pre-historic ruins been excavated.

    Dropped Pin
    near Dhofar Governorate

    https://goo.gl/maps/ok71oHuk2rS2

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    3,696
    Did this Terror attack involve military aviation? No?
    Then take it to the "General Discussion" Forum.

    Cheers

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Derbyshire
    Posts
    8
    It was an attack against European Airwork employees who were employed to work on SOAF aircraft..

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    124
    OK it has to do with aviation, then please tell your story. I am curious.

  7. #7
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    Los Angeles
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    5,318
    One way to ground an Air Force is to kill the maintenance crews when they are on holiday.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    France
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    This is my account of Thursday 1st June 1978

    We would have left work after 3pm although I can’t remember our exact working hours. It was over an hour to Salalah by bus and we arrived at Tarqa in daylight and had everything set up, 2 of the guys had rods and were fishing in daylight. The sun would have been setting about 7pm and it would have been dark 40 minutes or so after sunset.
    We were talking and preparing food etc and getting settled in to a long evening, I remember we called the guys up from the beach for the BBQ. To my knowledge nobody heard anything strange but of course they already could have been in the vicinity. We would have heard a vehicle approaching as nobody else was around.
    Firstly the location of the attack was on a flat rock plateau, as I face the sea the bus was behind me, to my right was the access road and to my left the sand bar and a lagoon behind the bar. The sea was about 30 to 50yds in front of me, to my right further away was a headland jutting into the sea. From that headland there was beach going as far as could see to the left and forming the sand bar. We were about 30yds from the access road and to my left about 30yds was the end of the plateau which was about 10ft above the lagoon behind the sand bar.
    I was facing the sand bar with access road behind me and the BBQ in front and to the right was the sea, there was somebody to my right and left all facing away from the road. The bus was lit up giving us some light but otherwise it was dark.
    When the firing started it was from behind us and tracer could be seen going over our heads, I immediately hit the ground and crawled to the bus, Terry was stood up in the bus in the front I crawled into the bus then could see bullets coming through the seats and decided it was not a good idea slipped out of the bus and underneath, I could see the bullets hitting the axle and shrapnel flying everywhere, I crawled towards the lagoon passing Alan who was on the ground, I said come on but never saw him again. I dropped into the lagoon off the plateau followed by a very heavy Chris who landed on top of me, he then left me and continued around the inland water to the left. I stayed put, completely immersed in about a meter of water with rocks either side a convenient place as my head was above water but I could easily slide down beneath the water for more cover if needed.
    I had a pair of swimming trunks on which were now ripped to shreds as I landed on a rock and gashed my bottom, not helped by the weight of Chris landing on top of me! I then could hear a lot firing and watched the tracer pass overhead. After awhile I could hear them packing up, the attack would have been between 10 and 11 pm. Eventually I saw vehicle lights across the lagoon taking a road up a hill, a long way away. I felt safer but had no idea what the situation was above me so I stayed put. All night I was being nibbled by the minnows which was annoying but I was alive.
    Around 7 am I heard jets and felt great, 2 Jaguars did a high pass followed by some lower ones than a 205 came over very high and eventually came down I was waving and they saw me, a crew member came over and took me straight to the Helicopter, the scene was obviously not good and I think they kept me from seeing most of it. I certainly cannot remember any detail other than being given a towel as I was virtually naked. I was taken to Salalah base hospital and my wound was dressed given something to wear and interviewed.
    In the interview I was informed that there were 3 positions set up and over 200 rounds were fired.
    There has been comments from some based in Salalah that we should not have been there and it was forbidden at that time, as far as any of us was aware we were only doing what many had done before and I believe the anniversary of the ending of hostilities was the following week. Also we were in an air force bus booked out with permission from the powers that be and no mention of any risk was given to us. I am also sure that if a risk was felt to be present then we would have been prevented from travelling or been made aware of it.
    The bus I believe was a Nissan 20 something seater very light weight and airy.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    124
    Was you a mercenary? Where from? Who were the opponents? Is there a link describing this conflict?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    France
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    Mercenary is an interesting point, we were legally employed by airwork to work on Omani air force aircraft. As Oman was not at war, we were not fighting anybody and the cessation of hostilities was many years before so technically we were not mercenaries.We were civilians The " opponents/ terrorist" were supposedly from the yemen. There are other mentions of this on this forum which is why I have added my account, 7 persons involved 5 killed and Chris Filmer died in UK some years ago, I am the only survivor.

  11. #11
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    Jan 2004
    Location
    Bournemouth
    Posts
    326
    Martin
    We were also referred to as 'Airwork Fusiliers' by some of the British sergeants in the SAF!
    Now officially a 'Senior Citizen'

  12. #12
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    France
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    Never heard that one, but not surprised.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    Well, in 1978 both Yemens were not home of terrorists. We had a different description for terrorists than today. Not every one, not following our opinion, was a terrorist like nowadays. So where are the terrorists, gangsters or rebels coming from? Remains of the rebels of the Oman war? BTW, a mercenary is not always a fighter. In 1978 we called all who worked for foreign armies mercenary. Nowadays they are called contractors. Different words for the same job. I would like to understand this incident.
    Last edited by xena; 17th June 2018 at 05:11.

  14. #14
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    Jun 2018
    Location
    France
    Posts
    7
    Hi Zena, 1978 is not today and there was historicl armed conflict between Yemen and Oman, you can call them insurgents, terrorist or whatever it does change the incident described above. If you would like to learn more ask your questions here and I am sure somebody if not me will explain to you. By the way there is no excuse in this world that makes killing civilians right for any cause, I an sure that I am not the only person who has this view.
    Regards Martin.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    4
    Are you Martin Fowler, West Country lad who had motor bike accident in Riyadh '72. I did Salalah '75 to April '78 so just missed that event. Imagine my surprise seeing you on the News telly a couple of months later. I am Dave Edwards.Have done Riyadh and Oman again since. Terry English on this website can't remember your surname didn't he have a bike accident also. John Blower was the foreman (brummie) and Ron McKye stayed to be a superintendant.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    France
    Posts
    7
    Yes that was me, can't say I remember your name, but when I had the bike accident I was living off base. Wasn't west country definatly southener, John Blower I remember well and a few others, don't remember Terry English, but quite a few of us had bikes. Good times in a changing Saudi. I SHALL get some names together out of the brain cells you may remember some of them.
    Martin.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    4
    Martin, the Riyadh Base manager was Dennis Usher who had his wife and son named Lance with him. I didn't know until years later he was quite a famous Battle of Britain pilot. Tech Manager was ex- BAC Warton named Fowlis and with his daughter Jane. I did the horse-riding club with them.There were Bob Manser, 'Manby' John, Ron McKay who stayed to be superintendent with Aerospace and Dennis Craig. Foreman was an Irishman named Mullholand. Bathed and watched films at the pool and drank in the bar with beer still fermenting. On Strikemasters then and again later at Salalah with Ken Fisher, John Holmes and Chris Dove also on Bell-105 helicopters Don't remember you there though.

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