With tribute to:

Martin Spirit

James Paul

Co-written by:

David Carter

Britain's Small Wars

The preservation of British Military History

Gulf War 1990-1991

"The Desert Rats Return"

The Invasion of Kuwait

At 2 am on August 2nd, 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait. It was no contest, the Kuwaitis were outnumbered 50 to 1. As the Emir's Royal Guard made a desperate stand, the Emir of Kuwait made it to Saudi Arabia by helicopter. Kuwait, in effect, ceased to exist and the way lay open for Saddam Hussein to invade the rest of the Gulf States. The British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd gave Iraq 48 hours to get out of Kuwait or face 'fresh action'. Even now both Britain and America were contemplating Military Force.

At that time, there were few American and British forces in the Gulf and the Gulf States were ill-equipped to face the 4th largest army in the world. In response Britain and America both froze all Kuwaiti possessions and assets. The last remnants of the Kuwaiti army were still putting up a brave fight around the Royal Palace in Kuwait City. Some British and foreign workers mounted a 13-truck convoy across the desert to safety in Saudi Arabia others were kept as hostages. While others in Baghdad paid taxi drivers to drive them to the Iraqi-Jordanian border for a handsome profit. The remaining Foreign workers in Kuwait were rounded up and bussed to Baghdad as hostages against foreign intervention.

On Monday August 6th, the United Nations took a vote in favour of mandatory economic and arms sanctions against Iraq. As American warships and marines headed for the Gulf, the Royal navy sent in the frigate H.M.S. York with other warships sailing to join her. British troops, the 5th Airborne brigade were actually nearby, in Oman where they and a permanent base, and RAF Tornadoes and Jaguars flew into the gulf alongside their American counterparts as the Arab world, France and other countries joined the Blockade, Desert Shield had begun.