Operation Granby Commemorations
Most of us know the conflict that took place in Iraq and Kuwait against the forces of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussain in the first years of the 1990s as The Gulf War, but the military name for these engagements (in which the 1st Battalion The Staffordshire Regiment played a great part) was Operation Granby. Operation Granby took place from September 1990 until March 1991, and over 50,000 troops were deployed to the region. The Operation took its name from the Marquis of Granby; a commander during an 18th century war - the Seven Years War.
Before deployment, the 1 Staffords, as the battalion was known, was training for Northern Ireland, but quickly refocused on the new Operation. When war became inevitable, the Adjutant of the Battalion was swamped with calls from Ex Staffords offering their services, in fact many just turned up at Regimental Headquarters.
The Battalion had undergone intensive training in Canada in the summer of 1990, so was known to be in good order and well trained. Warrior combat vehicles were prepared (painted for desert conditions) and training began in earnest. This training included desert navigation, first aid, nuclear biological and chemical warfare training and fitness and acclimatisation. In late October 1990 the Battalion flew to Saudi Arabia; “Relieved that the uncertainty was over, proud at having being chosen, confident in their abilities and determined to give a good account of themselves.” (The Gulf Knot).
Initially, soldiers had to deal with a severe lack of equipment – for instance there were 856 people, but only 250 camp beds. The first three months were spent taking part in gruelling training and the hot days, cold nights, sand that interfered with equipment and sandstorms that left everything full of grit posed their own problems.
On 20th January the Battalion moved to Kuwait – where its job was to break out of an established bridgehead and push on to destroy the enemy’s tactical reserve. On 24th to 28th February the battalion fought in the ferocious Operation Desert Sabre – The liberation of Kuwait.
It is 25 years since Operation Granby, and the Staffordshire Regimental Association is commemorating this date with a service of Commemoration in the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, a Regimental Dinner, an All-Ranks Lunch and a get-together in Lichfield, on 27th February.
On Sunday 28th February the Gulf War Memorial Trust will be unveiling an Operation Granby Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum. Members of the Regimental Association have been invited to attend.
Veterans have also expressed their gratitude for the extraordinary support shown to them by the people of Staffordshire and the Black Country, who wrote, sent parcels and welcomed them home. Veterans would be delighted to meet these supporters again at the memorial unveiling.