5th May 1980, Prince’s Gate, London, UK.
Tomorrow it’s the big forty two…just where has the time gone. Last weekend I took a few minutes in my garden here in New York to remember mates from my original unit, 2 (Parachute) Squadron RAF Regiment, as it was the unit’s 100th birthday having began in the early 1920s in the Middle East as an armoured car squadron.
This morning I went through an SAS squadron photo taken between the time of the Iranian Embassy Siege (Op Nimrod) and deploying off to the Falklands War…way too many lads from that photo already taken from us, and many too early.
Not once over the years have I met up for an Op Nimrod anniversary officially put together by 22 SAS. I don’t even know if there’s ever been one. Most years, just like marking other key events in my military career, I’ll go out into the garden and raise a wee glass of whisky to the sky…a special moment for a special memory.
This year though, I won’t be doing that. It’ll have to be a cup of tea instead. Right now I’m undergoing tests for TBI (traumatic brain injury) or Parkinson’s Disease. In a few weeks I’ll know which one it is.
I mention this not for sympathy or personal attention, but instead to highlight the type of injury one can get in the military, yet not show signs until some years later.
During the early days of “team” training back in the mid 70s, everything explosive was pretty raw and ready, no different to that used by the Royal Engineers or indeed the rest of the Army. Yet here we were making our own window frame charges out of PE4 and Det cord. The Regiment was famed back then for using the Who Dares Wins demolitions formula of P for Plenty!
During one two week period a small group of us were left to our own devises playing with explosives in order to blow our way into different types of buildings, from wood, metal, concrete, single and double brick wall etc. It wasn’t the first time that I would place the charge, and in order to get into the building as quickly as possible, be just that wee bit too close to it going off. “Bob…Bob mate you alright?” As I come to after knocking myself out by being concussed by the over pressure of the charge. Mike Tyson had nothing on those uppercuts. When you’ve done several dozen of those in a fairly short time span, there is no doubt that parts of your brain is turning to mush over the coming decades. Not including being inside the over pressure of incomers from other conflicts and operations around the world.
Mix that with hours and hours of firing in the original “killing house” with no extractor fans over a good few years until the new camp was built with a suitable “killing house” worthy of health and safety, then often we’d step outside into the fresh air and be coughing up and spitting black phlegm which was basically releasing some of the lead from our system. The original anti terrorist team cocktail…free of charge.
It was hours and days and weeks and months of training like this that made us the best in the world. It was training like this that led to today’s young troopers being world class tier one SF types. Each of us being taught by those who know, then passing on our knowledge to others younger than ourselves.
A wee light shed on what it took to be a trooper way back then, and the commitment from individuals given the freedom to hone skills to suit the threat with the equipment or lack of available at the time.
Today at sixty seven years young, I’m getting to find out what’s wrong with me…but on the plus side, there’s still a whole lot right. I’m still out running/tabbing with a Bergen, and loving every minute. I’m still doing my weights, my pull ups and my dips. I’m still holding intelligent (fairly anyway) conversations…and I’m still writing and from time to time boring mates with my poems.
Tomorrow’s a big day for me, back in the garden for that special moment. But if I can just hang on for another 8 years, just maybe the Regiment will invite the few of us remaining for that one anniversary gathering, for what arguably is the most famous SAS operation in modern history.
21 thoughts on “FORTY TWO YEARS SINCE OPERATION NIMROD, THE IRANIAN EMBASSY SIEGE.”
Brilliant read as ever Bob, I watched Nimrod on the news aged 5 and at that moment decided that’s what I wanted to be. Unfortunately asthma stopped short any active military career. Enjoy your special day, and brew 😉
Sorry to hear that Bob, hope you ok. Do remember acting as a hostage in the killing house in Stirling lines.
(Ex 264, B Troop)
Is that you Dom Harvey
Very good luck for the ‘morrow Bob. Always enjoy your writings.
I’m sorry to hear of your troubles Bob. I have an insight into some of your health problems as my wife was diagnosed with P’n’sons a few years ago. On the plus side, 7 years post diagnosis she still horse riding and very active, albeit without the extra trauma’s you’ve experienced. It’s not a death sentence and your strength of character and fortitude will take you a long way.
On a positive note, I was at the 2 Sqn 100th reunion at the weekend. It was a fantastic event, hosted by current Sqn members. There was lots of reminiscing, toasts to Brothers no longer with us, and reinforcement of old comradeship’s. A thoroughly nostalgic weekend! All the best Sir, Per Ardua.
A very thought provoking piece of work, cannot count the amount of live firing we did with an array of weapons of all calibres without protection. I hope you get the best result for you, take care and keep up the good work.
All the best with the tests Bob.
All the best Bob with the test and thankyou for your service. Really enjoy your writing mate keep your head up mate surely those down in H should sort out some kind of reunion for you all . Always A Little Further 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧
It is always great to read your messages Bob. Unfortunately, an active life is starting to show catch up Bob. I wish you all the very best mate and hope test results work in your favour. Please, keep us informed and carry on re-telling your stories from an exciting life.
All the very best Bob.
All the best with the tests.
If you are ever down in the DC area, l would like to have a wee dram with you.
Haggis Hunter on Facebook
Thanks for your service. Per Ardua
As a retired Australian Police Tactical Group member I can understand the challenges of the early days of CT training to reach desired capabilities. You guys “wrote the book” on CT ops and pioneered the equipment needed to succeed and the PPE for members to keep safe. The commonly used stun grenades and weapons-mounted torches are simple examples. Well done, and thanks. I hope the tests go well and the British Govt civet the costs for now and the future. Cheers!!
I wish you all the best and hope it won’t be Parkinson.
I consider special Air Service being the best among special forces. You guys are simply the best of what you do. I wish you all well and salute you with a brew.
Ay up mate, hope all goes well for the tests, “in’t garden with a whisky “, better than a cuppa in’t gaurdroom at the depot.
Take care Bob…..
Hi Bob sorry to hear about your possible parkinsons I hope you get good news on the test I enjoy the emails keep them coming it’s good to hear from old colleagues.
Indeed time has flown by! Topper passed, and I attended St, Martin’s last Friday. A big turn out and the obvious faces reference your blog, Tak made me smile, how’s the tiger bread going, he got me onto that a few years back.
Thinking of ( You ) on the health possible issue, hopefully your get through it as many obstacles you’ve overcome, unfortunately we are getting older and injury’s etc catching up!.
You may need to drop a wee whiskey in that brew – tea Bob.
Stay Safe B
Andre ( H )
Enjoy the cuppa Bob, great read as always and sure you’ll be there in 8 years.
Best wishes and hi to Patti also mate..
Glad to hear that your still running 50 years after going round the peri track at Catterick,nowadays i have trouble running for a bus.Stay safe Bob cheers JC
All the best mate, always in my mind of the good old day’s on 2, keep well, all the best.
Ach, still young at 67 same age as myself later this month. Hope you get results quickly and prognosis is a good one. New developments all the time. The care young man x