Desert Storm Part Eight: Preparing to leave

Capt Tim Purbrick 17th_21st LancersIt is 25 years since the 1991 Gulf War when British troops contributed (OP GRANBY) to the successful Allied operation which prevented Saddam’s invasion of Saudi Arabia (DESERT SHIELD) and then liberated Kuwait (DESERT STORM).

Capt Tim Purbrick commanded a Troop of Challenger Main Battle Tanks during the 1991 Gulf War. This blog is written from his diaries, notebooks and a tape recording he made during the war.

The blog will follow his work up to the war and then the war itself, day by day 25 years on.


8th October 1990

The new week in Fallingbostel – Monday 8th October – began with mine warfare, NBC (Nuclear Biological & Chemical) training and Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) recognition – how to recognise friendly and enemy equipment.


9th October 1990

 I gave a survival lecture and we played football in full NBC kit which was incredibly difficult after a few minutes of trying to breathe hard through a respirator.


 11th October 1990

 The Lancer officers went back to Munster for a dinner night in the Mess. Over the rest of the weekend we collected last minute extras from around the Regiment. Amanda flew over from England. I met her and Ann in the Mess, picked half a case of champagne and headed to Glandorf for the night.


12th October 1990

 At the final moment, before we left Munster for the last time, a brother officer, Matthew Squance, screeched into the Officer’s Mess car park in his Porsche. Pre-deployment_image_2He had just driven at top speed from England. He opened the boot, flipped back a blanket and there were four Mossberg eight-shot pump-action shotguns.  The father of one of those deploying had remembered what a problem rats and vermin had been during a desert deployment. He thought that shotguns might be more effective for vermin control than pistols and sub machine guns. Our 17th/21st Lancers Regimental Armourer, an ex-SBS Marine, had recommended a short barreled, 12 gauge, folding stock, 8 shot combat shotgun. Later, in Fallingbostel, Lt Dara Sugrue, a QRIH officer, procured us a range of ammunition natures for the shotgun including a solid 1oz lead slug.

I strapped my sleeved Mossberg to the back of Brad’s 1,200cc Yamaha motorbike and we set off on an adrenaline fuelled 140mph ride through the rain from Munster to Fallingbostel. We had to stop half way so that I could put on a one-piece waterproof bike suit as I was staring to get soaked in the rain. A two-hour journey melted to just an hour. It wasn’t the fastest I had ever been on the limitless German autobahns. I had been at 160mph in James Wilson’s Porsche 928 as he drove us both to a military orienteering championship.

Back in Fallingbostel we did a final pack up, had some last minute lectures including one on Saudi wildlife, packed and repacked our kit, went out to dinner in local towns enjoying final steaks, fish and chips and beers, had a Squadron party, did some more media interviews with papers from our Regimental recruiting area and then we were off.