Thebes, Abydos, Karnak…names out of history books. Names of legends and pyramids.
To be in Egypt alongside our Bulgarian allies is as if you stepped into a history lesson.
And in war, there is a simple truth: always pay attention to your history lessons. The Second World War with Rommel, the French Colonial Forces, even Napoleon…the sands of Egypt are coloured red with the blood of many soldiers.
It is an unforgiving terrain: the heat boils you in your battledress, the sand makes your kit malfunction and wear out. Half of our regiment is occupying the lavatories in a dire attempt to battle dysentery. Welcome to Egypt…we have a war to win.
It was soon clear convential warfare was not going to bring us home the victory in this terrain…so me and my men adapted to our new surroundings. We decided to rendez-vous with a local tribe who were in rebellion against the Egyptian government. I’m sure the men all thought me insane or hit by the heat when I ordered them to change their battledress for the local clothing.
We rode through the desert sand on camelback, the djellabahs and scarves not only shielding us from the heat and sandy winds, but also proving to be the ideal camouflage. On several occasions, enemy helicopters flew over, ignoring those few apparent locals.
Little did we know when we sneaked to the ridge of a large sanddune to oversee the enemy headquarters, we were the only ones who had actually achieved to penetrate enemy territory this deep. Through our binoculars, we counted heads and resources.
Judging by the assembly beneath us, the enemy forces were making ready for a strong counterattack. Tanks were lined up, men in formation. Apache helicopters were being fuelled and primed. In an hour at most, these sands would indeed colour red again.
“Coordinates ?” I didn’t even look up from my binoculars when I addressed my sergeant. “36RUP9991976067, Military Grid Reference, Lt. Colonel.”
I nodded and looked at the man as I gestured for the radio.
“Big Daddy, this is Camouflage, I repeat, Camouflage for Big Daddy, Come in, Big Daddy…” The radio crackled. “This is Big Daddy, come in Camouflage, receiving loud and clear….”
The exact coordinates were dispatched to the first airforce bataljon, the jets scrambled within five minutes.
We had saved our men a bloody battle…some even called us Battle Heroes.
We just hoped the airstrike would not startle the camels…
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