On This Day…
On the 24 February 1991 the Gulf War ground attack began
1st Armoured Division then went through the breach in the minefields and took part in what was described by one junior officer as ‘a brief and extremely hectic stampede towards Kuwait’. For many, doing this at high speed in soft-skinned communications vehicles, surrounded by armoured vehicles, was challenging but exhilarating. After covering 170 miles in 100 hours, with seven changes of command for Divisional Main, Kuwait was liberated, the Iraqis were defeated and a ceasefire was announced.
Image credit Jim Toms
A good luck moment
As Jim Toms recalled the time on Twitter on the eve of the ground war: ‘a final visit to parent unit to pick up mail, wish luck and see them the other side etc. At this point we didn’t know how things would go, and, as one of the lads put it, we thought it may be ‘Operation Certain Death’. It was a ‘good luck everyone’ moment for sure.
Jim was with 14 Signal Regt (EW) but attached to the US Army in an Electronic Warfare Liaison role – 307 (MI) Bn, 207 (MI) Bde), a VII Corps asset. Prior to the ground assault going in, his detachment was the only one in the British Army not on radio silence in theatre:
‘ We were using secure HF to communicate our intelligence up to the two Divisional Electronic Warfare Officer (DEWO) detachments at Div Main & Alt [alternative] and were the only armoured vehicle in the brigade.’
When it deployed on Op Granby, the Corps had not been involved in a major desert war for nearly 50 years. The Corps needed to transform quickly from supporting defensive operations in farmland and forest to supporting offensive operations in the desert. The war provided a powerful demonstration of the Corps’ ability to innovate and improvise.
The British land contribution was initially 7th Armoured Brigade but in November 1990 this increased to 1st Armoured Division, consisting of 4th and 7th Armoured Brigades, and became some 35,000 men and women strong. Lt Col John Kirby was both Commander Communications and CO of 1st Armoured Division HQ and Signal Regiment. For Op Granby this included 1,350 vehicles (200 armoured), 520 trailers and 2,100 Royal Signals personnel, in 11 squadrons, drawn from units all over the world. Detachments from 30th Signal Regiment supplied the communications back to London. Kirby was awarded the OBE for his service.
Images above & below courtesy of Jim Toms.
Jim was with 14 Signal Regt (EW) but attached to the US Army in an Electronic Warfare Liaison role – 307 (MI) Bn, 207 (MI) Bde), a VII Corps asset. Prior to the ground assault going in his detachment was the only one in the British Army not on radio silence in theatre:
‘ We were using secure HF to communicate our int up to the 2 DEWO dets at Div Main & Alt and were the only armoured vehicle in the brigade.’
The Corps Centenary book ‘Roger So Far” celebrates many of the Corps’ achievements during its first 100 years.
This hardback, illustrated coffee table book is packed full of stories about people, units and events in the context of campaigns, technologies and equipment. RRP £30 with discounts for Regular, Reserve and Retired Corps members.
Buy now from the Royal Signals Museum Shop
Image Credit Stephen Williams