From The Thames to the Tigris
(The WDs at war, early 2003)


From the Thames to the Tigris

This is the web version of a booklet published by the Westminster Dragoons (official site), on their deployment to Iraq on Op Telic, early 2003. (There is a PDF version too). They are personal accounts of distinct phases, as we reformed several times for different tasks. Conn MacEvilly's first article gives an introduction and background.

All photographs are by members of the squadron unless otherwise indicated.

The Westminster Dragoons at War in Arabia – Again
2Lt Conn MacEvilly

In mid-January every member of the WDs received notice that they were being called up for war. The possibility of that happening to us had been live for several months, as our expertise in nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance and decontamination had obvious relevance to any plan concerning Iraq. Still, the day we received our mobilisation papers was a solemn one. Read more...

Getting the Brown Envelope
Tpr Philip Atkinson

The recruiting material tells us that the TA soldier is ready at a moment’s notice. Accountant one day – highly trained killer the next. But for all the bravado, few who take the oath reasonably expect that their training will ever be called into practice. Instead, their military skills will lie dormant and unrealised as untapped potential. Read more...

Knook Camp - Y Sqn Begins to Take Shape
Tpr Martin Hill

The army must have spent a lot of time looking for the most dreadful place possible to put a poor unsuspecting TA unit. The camp is tucked into such a tight Wiltshire valley that mobile phone reception is restricted to odd points - a square meter on top of a skip, a funny handshake outside the guardhouse, etc. No internet connection, no bog roll and a dead rat in the showers called Arthur. Read more...

Kuwait and the Build-Up to War Operations
Sgt Adam Topol

Having arrived in Kuwait from the UK in the dead of night on 3 March 2003, courtesy of the RAF, the squadron was moved from the airport to the divisional transit centre out in the featureless Kuwaiti desert and from there to the JNBCR at Camtelia Lines the next morning. Read more...

With G Sqn from G-Day to DALLAS/TAMPA
Tpr Jay Hairsine

We had been training hard with G Sqn for just a week when the tempo and atmosphere suddenly changed. Where once there had been a couple of helicopter overflights each night, now there were swarms, their warning lights ominously inactive and their cabins lit only by the eerie glow of the pilots' night vision goggles. The desert around Camp Eagle was churned up by Challenger 2s; despatch riders criss-crossed the trackways in haste. Read more...

Protecting DSG as the Scuds Rain Down
Tpr Robin Rowe

The war started, not with shock and awe, but rather with a good night's sleep. The expected flypast by an armada of coalition aircraft and the rolling thunder of explosions from the north never happened. However, the next day our routine was changed completely. Read more...

At the FPIC
Cpl Andy Brown

For a medic, life at the FPIC (Forces Press And Information Centre) was actually quite involved. Y Sqn as a whole was kept busy improving the defensive berms and gunpits, mounting patrols and carrying out VCPs. Our position at the old UN compound on the main Umm Qasr-Basra road, a few kilometres northeast of the town of Safwan, meant we were an obvious target for Iraqi civilians and POWs wanting medical help or food. Most of the squadron was by now together again, along with the QM Tech's packet, the REME, a PBDS, an SMT, and the regimental training team! Read more...

Infantry Ops in Al Qurnah with G Sqn
Tpr Ed Bowen

The war ended with no real celebration or excitement but filtered into a drift of uncertainty. Were we to be sent home and reunited with our families or tasked with assisting the Americans with their capture and securing of Baghdad? Eventually answers appeared from the top, somewhat diluted and vague, but this part of the tour proved for many of us to be the most enjoyable and rewarding. Read more...

Infantry Ops in Muzaybilah
Cpl Paul Dryden

On Friday the 18th of April, my 37th birthday, we deployed north from Shu'aybah Airfield near Az Zubayr to Muzaybilah on the Tigris, to take on our new internal security and peace support role. There we met Support Coy of 1 PARA, whom we were relieving, and set about the task of taking over the school where we were to be based. The Squadron was split into three troops, with an SHQ/SQMS packet. Each troop was allocated to the task of Patrols, QRF or Guard, rotating every few days. SHQ was responsible for foot patrols in the village itself. Read more..

The Slow Trip Home
Sgt Adrian Jenkins

On 2 May, Y Sqn (minus those who had decided to extend their period of mobilisation) assembled at the main British support base, Shu'aybah Airfield, southwest of Basra. There we began preparing our vehicles and ourselves for the return to the UK. Read more...

Other links: Colin Horne's photo album, Martin Hill's Op Telic page

The Westminster Dragoons are one of the Royal Yeomanry's five squadrons. If you would like to find out more about joining the Westminster Dragoons, have a look at their web site. For details of rates of pay and so on, see the London Reserve Forces site. For a flashy but less informative description of the Territorial Army, there is a an official TA site.


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