Thursday, 24 February 2011

1st Bn Queen's Own Highlanders enter Iraq - On this day in Scottish Military History - 1991

In late 1990 1st Bn Queen's Own Highlanders were part of 33 Armoured Brigade in the 3rd Armoured Division - part of BAOR in Germany. They were still equiped with the old FV 432 APCs rather than the new Warriors.

After the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in August 1990 elements of the Queen's Own were allocated to units being sent to the Gulf. Their old equipment meant they would not be used as a mechanised unit as they had trained for, but they would be sent as reinforcements for other units.

The first contingent to go were the Regimental band attached to 7 Armoured Brigade as medical orderlies in October.

Over the next two months men from the battalion were sent to reinforce 1st Bn Royal Scots and 3rd Bn Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. Others were attached to 1st Armoured Division HQ. By 22nd November the rest of the battalion still in Germany was given two weeks notice to go to Saudi Arabia.

Then on 15th December 1990 1 QOHLDRS were taken of the Order of Battle of Operation Granby (Britain's operations against Iraq. Desert Shield / Storm was the US name for the operation).

It looked like only a quarter of the battalion would be involved. By 30th December the advance party of the main body of the battalion had returned to their base in Germany. The very next day they were ordered back to the Gulf. It would not be fighting together but 1st Bn Queen's Own Highlanders would now be in the war.

The units the Queen's Own were attached to included 1st Bn Royal Scots, 3rd Bn Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, 1st Bn The Staffordshire Regiment,1st Armoured Division Field Ambulance, HQ 1st Armoured Division, HQ 4 Armoured Brigade and HQ 7 Armoured Brigade. A large part of the army's reserve force called the Armoured Delivery Group was made up of 'A' and 'B' Companies and it was under the command of HQ Company of the Queen's Own Highlanders.

Shortly before the attack on the Iraqis the rear echelon troops of the battalion in Riyadh were sent up to the front line. In the words of General de la Billière they were "too sharp to be left out of the battle".

On this day twenty years ago it was G-Day; the day British forces poured through the holes in the defences punched by the American 1st Armored Division.

The first British troops to cross the breach on the morning of 24th February 1991 were from the Recce Platoon, 1st Bn Queen's Own Highlanders.

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