With tribute to:

Martin Spirit

James Paul

Co-written by:

David Carter

Britain's Small Wars

The preservation of British Military History

Oman (Dhofar) 1969-1976

"The Desert Song"

The Position at Defa

The Position at Defa

The caves at Sherishitti were used by the Adoo to store a vast collection of arms and ammunition. Troops of the Sultan's forces and SAS Firqats launched an attack to capture the caves in January 1975. The operation was mounted from one of the government outposts at Defa, known as 'The position at Defa'. The position was constantly attacked through out the war and was called upon often to give artillery fire support to other operations. At one stage over 2,000 rounds were fired from the position in one week.

SAS gunner

The fighting in the wadi, in front of the caves in the dense undergrowth, was a hard fought and bitter match against a determined Adoo. On the second day of the fighting, a company of the Sultan's forces attempted to cross some open ground in the wadi, despite their commanding officer being told by the SAS that it was a bad idea. The Adoo could not believe their luck and easily cut down the advancing troops as they tried to cross the wadi. In less than an hour the casualties amounted to 13 dead and 22 wounded. For the rest of the day the SAS were forced to take on the Adoo single handed to restore some fighting spirit in their allies. The SAS poured machine gun and mortar fire into the Adoo positions and provided covering fire for the survivors of the Sultan's forces. One SAS Fijian trooper carried out a wounded Arab under fire after the man had been dropped three times by his fleeing comrades.

The caves did not fall into government hands until after the war but the Sultan's forces denied the Adoo from using them again by bombarding anything that moved near the caves from positions on the high ground taken on the first day of fighting.

Soldier on the Bren gun

In September of the same year, an SAS patrol was sent out from 'The position at Defa' to neutralize an Adoo Katyusha (122mm Soviet made missile) that the Adoo were firing at Defa. The SAS patrol made contact with the Adoo and a fierce firefight ensued. Lance Corporal Geordie Small was hit and bled to death before he could be casevaced out. Lance Corporal Tony Flemming was also hit with the bullet severing his spinal column. A third SAS solider was hit with the bullet passing through his neck. The SAS broke contact with the Adoo knowing that they had given as good as they got.