A Paisley soldier whose first frontline deployment was to Gulf War One has recalled his experience of the conflict as the Armed Forces commemorate the 25th anniversary of Op GRANBY.
Colour Sergeant Mark Hamilton, 45, from Paisley, who now serves in the Band of the Grenadier Guards, was one of 34,000 British Army troops deployed in response to the invasion of Kuwait in January 1991.
Personnel from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force also fought in the Middle East conflict which was codenamed Operation GRANBY. CSgt Hamilton was just 20-years-old when he was deployed as a medic attached to 22 Field Hospital.
He said: “It was exciting and scary at the same time, because I was a young boy going on an Op for the very first time. I was looking through photos last night and thinking ‘God, that young boy was me.’ I didn’t expect to still be in the Army, 25 years down the line, but here I am and have no regrets.”
CSgt Hamilton added: “Today I’m reflecting on the 25 years since Operation GRANBY – what happened in the desert all those years ago and everything I have done in the Army since. We were sent ahead of the main force and were stood by for the main assault in Wadi al Batin. We could hear the bombardment and were prepared to treat a lot of casualties but when it came to it there were surprisingly few.”
A ceasefire was agreed on 28 February 1991.
On Friday 26th February 2016, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh who is Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, joined veterans and serving soldiers from the Grenadier Guards at a special commemorative service in the Guards Chapel in Wellington Barracks, London.
Music for the service was provided by the Band of the Grenadier Guards, of which CSgt Hamilton is part, and he played the clarinet.
While the Grenadiers remembered their own involvement in the conflict, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent joined other Gulf War veterans, their families and representatives of all three Services at the Chapel of St Faith within the Crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral for a service organised by the Ministry of Defence.
Those in attendance paid tribute to the 47 British servicemen and women who gave their lives during the campaign, and whose names are dedicated at the Gulf War Memorial within St Paul’s Cathedral.
On Sunday, 28 February 2016, an RAF Tornado GR4 is planned to stage a flypast over an event honouring British forces at the National Memorial Arboretum. The Tornado has been painted in the original Gulf War “desert pink” colour scheme to honour the aircraft’s almost continuous operational service since 1991. Chief of the Air Staff (Designate) Sir Stephen Hillier, who himself flew Tornado aircraft during the First Gulf War, said:
“It is a fitting tribute to all those who served on that mission in 1991, many of whom still serve today.”