The Battle of Mirbat Memorial

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Reference WMO/279089


Allied Special Forces Memorial Grove

National Memorial Arboretum

Croxall Road



DE13 7AR


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Status: On original site
Type: Freestanding
Location: External
Setting: Within a garden/park/churchyard/enclosure/Marketplace
Description: Board/Plaque/ Tablet
  • Metal Metal (any)
Lettering: Inscribed on a plaque
  • Dhofar Rebellion (1962-1976)
About the memorial: This memorial was established in 2008 in honour of Talaiasi Labalaba, Thomas Tobin and Captain Mike Kealy. Codenamed OPERATION STORM. Between 1970 and 1975 a war was fought for the hearts and minds of the Jebali (mountain people) of the Province of Dhofar in Southern Oman. Soldiers from 22 Special Air Service Regiment were deployed under the guise of a British Army Training Team, commonly known as BATT men. The SAS objective was to help the armed forces of Oman win the battle on the Jebel and to deliver the Province from armed communists working from bases in Yemen. At dawn on the 19th July 1972 a nine man BATT team under the command of Captain Mike Kealy were "stood to" in their gun positions at the ancient capital port of Dhofar called MIRBAT. They came under attack by over 250 communist fighters. As the battle intensified Talaiasi Labalaba a Fijian was firing the 25-pounder field gun directly at the enemy forces who were only yards away from the Gun Pit. Walid Khamis of the Omani gun team and Sekonaia Takavesi another Fijian had been seriously wounded.
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Tommy Tobin the medic was attending to them when he was shot in the jaw, a wound that was later to prove fatal. Labalaba was shot in the neck whilst trying to retrieve a mortar nearby. The defence of the Gun Pit was taken over by Mike Kealy and Takavesi until almost two hours later when a relief force of fighter planes and helicopter borne soldiers from 22 SAS arrived and routed the enemy. Labalaba sadly died in the Gun Pit along with a Dhofar Gendarmerie soldier. The Mirbat Citation “It may appear that an unusually large number of names have been recorded. This is because there were on the 19th July an unusually large number of gallant actions at Mirbat.” Colonel Bryan Ray, Northern Frontier Regiment, Sultan of Oman’s Armed Forces. 19th July 2009. Situated behind the plaque is a very young Yew Tree that was grown by the Allied Special Forces Association. It will be nurtured to frame the memorial in due course. Either side are Ceanosis bushes which flower in the Oxford Blue of the SAS. Underneath is a forged "Winged Dagger" from a factory in the Midlands and donated by a friend of the Grove.

Talaiasi Labalaba (Pictured above, lost his life during the battle) Tommy Tobin (Died in October 1972 of wounds sustained during the battle) Mike Kealy (Lost his life during training in 1979.)

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