More than 40 years have passed since Britain fought a secret war in Oman. Former Major Nicholas Ofield has returned for the first time since the conflict to retread his battlegrounds with his son, filmmaker Tristan Ofield. This blog contains excerpts from the production diary Tristan kept during filming.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

SAF Meal

Spent Friday evening at the Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces Association Dinner. A very enjoyable event at the Army and Navy Club in London. The average age was about 80, and it was funny to look at my Dad and see him feeling young in the company.

Managed to set up the next round of interview for Jan/Feb and have come away with loads of extra research, contacts to make, and books to read. 

My heart sunk when talking to chaps, who even at their age are still involved in places like Afghanistan, telling me that when troops are killed they cannot look the family in the eye because they don't believe the sons/daughters/husbands/wives are dying for anything.  

One of the most interesting conversations came later in the evening. When Dad remarked [persons name] now that's a killer! Blew my mind. I mean what characteristics are required to be singled out as "the killer" in a room full of killers. How do you look a a room full of soldiers - all of whom kill for a living and say "him, he's a real killer." What trait singles that person out? Never really did get a satisfactory answer. 

The total delight of the evening came when somebody turned to the old man and said "Nick do you remember when....[details omitted] and proceeded to tell a story I had heard many, many times.  Growing up with Oman stories have been a constant delight and I have never tired of hearing them, but over the years you do begin to wonder how true all the elements are. Did it happen exactly that way etc... Not through any form of lying. But perhaps an enthusiastic embellishment or a fading recollection. Memory can change the shape of a room, the colour of a car, the order of events. To hear someone, unprompted,  and without realising, confirm what you had always believed is a truly wonderful thing. 

I am making this documentary because there are stories to tell, and those stories are true.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Phase 2

Phase two of filming started today with a visit to the National Memorial Centre near Litchfield. A vast area of ground set aside to remember people who have given their lives in service; be that in the forces the Police, Fire Service, etc.

Tucked away towards the outskirts is a small little memorial to those who fell during the Dhofar Campaign. We laid a wreath from us and a Poppy for the relative of a Flight Lieutenant  who was unable to make it to the memorial herself.

The spectacle, if spectacle is the right word, is the hugh memorial erected for all those who have fallen in combat since the end of World War Two. It was shocking to me how many people have been killed since then. More haunting however is the outer side of the walls are left blank...for those who have yet to be killed. That thought left me with a chill.

Together we found several names of British soldiers, and pilots who died in the Dhofar Campaign.

Campbell MRA
Taylor TEF
Ramsden DER
Labalabat BEM
Tobin TPA
Wright PR
Drybanski MJ
Handyside BG
Loid C 

The site is beautiful, and a tribute worthy to those who gave their lives in service. 

If you haven't already donated - please buy a Poppy. It helps not only service men and women who are injured but also their families. 

You can donate quickly and easily by following this link.

"When You Go Home,
 Tell Them Of Us And Say,
 For Their Tomorrow,
 We Gave Our Today"