207,372 Pages

The Trucial Oman Scouts was a paramilitary force raised by the British to serve in their Trucial States


The Trucial Oman Scouts were established at Sharjah originally as the Trucial Oman Levies in 1951. They were originally to be used as an internal security and rural patrol force. It was commanded by a British Army Major with two Jordanian officers seconded from the Arab Legion. Its ranks consisted of 32 other ranks also seconded from the Arab Legion. It was later expanded to 30 British officers in command positions with a handful of Arab officers. Its soldiers were locally recruited mostly from Abu Dhabi. It finally reached Battalion strength.

In 1952, Otto Thwaites, the British Major commanding the Trucial Oman Levies, was shot dead along with a Jordanian Sergeant Major and a British Royal Air Force medical doctor by Arab soldiers of the Trucial Oman Levies when their vehicle with 4 occupants was ambushed outside Buraimi. The only survivor was a British REME Sergeant. Trucial Oman Levies soldiers were believed to be selling their ammunition to the Saudi garrison.

In 1955 had 500 paramilitary personnel who were organized into 3 Rifle Squadrons and by 1956 had 500 paramilitary personnel organized into 4 Rifle Squadrons including 1 Squadron based at the Al Buraimi Oasis. The Trucial Oman Levies were renamed the Trucial Oman Scouts in 1956. By 1957 the Scouts included 160 British officers & soldiers and by 1960 had 1,000 paramilitary personnel.

During the 1962-1965 Dhofar Rebellion it was believed that many members of the Dhofar Liberation Front were former soldiers of the Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces (SAF), or of the Trucial Oman Scouts.

In 1964 the scouts had 1,324 men which including 38 British officers and 85 British other ranks. It was organized into five Rifle Squadrons, each with three British and three Arab officers and 145 Arab other ranks, and one Group equipped with machine guns and 3-inch mortars. There were also a Signals Squadron, a Motor Transport Squadron, a Medical Centre, a Workshop, a Cadet Squadron, a Cadet School, and a Training Depot.

In 1967 a Captain in the Trucial Oman Scouts a Percival Prentice (G-AOPL) from Shackleton Aviation at Sywell and flew it to Sharjah where, later it was flown on to South Africa where it remained until it ceased flying.

In 1969 British General Roland Gibbs was appointed Commander of British Land Forces in the Persian Gulf [1] where he re-organised the Trucial Oman Scouts and laid the foundations for what is now the Sultan of Oman's Land Forces.

The Scouts then expanded from 1,600 to 1,700 personnel in 1970 to 2,500 in 1971.

The Trucial Oman Scouts were a highly respected impartial paramilitary armed regular internal security and rural police force and were regarded as a well trained, well paid, and efficient military unit. It cost the United Kingdom two million pounds a year to maintain the Scouts in 1971.


Headquartered in Sharjah the Scouts maintained with small garrisons based in most of the coastal towns and other key posts. The Scouts had a base in Dubai since 1952 and maintain a permanent garrison at Buraimi Oasis of 1 Field Squadron


The UDF was organized as highly mobile light armored cavalry and included 40% locally recruited Arab personnel including: 50 Jordanian NCOs, Omanis (bulk of troops), Iranians, Indians, and Pakistanis. It remained under the command and control of 30 British officers until the mid 1980s. Head Quarters at Sharjah [since 1951]


The only major military operation the Trucial Oman Scouts were involved in was in October 1955 Clash at the disputed Al Buraimi Oasis. Two Field Squadrons were deployed, along with troops from the Sultan of Muscat and Oman personal guard to forcibly evict a 40 man Saudi Arabian armed police garrison in an old fort and the village. The Saudi garrison had been based there since August 1952 when they forcibly occupied the Buraimi Oasis following an armed clash in which 3 people were killed with 9 people killed in October 1955, including 7 Saudi policemen/military personnel and 2 Scouts.[2]

In 1971 the Scouts were renamed Union Defence Force (U.D.F.) upon the formation of United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) and consisted of 2,500 regular military personnel. In May 1976 the Union Defence Force unified its military forces of the various U.A.E states and they then lost their unit's individual identity.

In 1975 had 3 250 regular military personnel organised into 6 Mobile Squadrons, an Air Detachment with 7 helicopters, and was equipped with Scorpion light tanks, Ferret armoured cars, Land Rovers, eight 81mm Mortars, and two Dhows.

UDF DeploymentsEdit

The Union Defense Force were used on two occasions in Sharjah Emirate.

Sharjah Coup attemptEdit

In January 1972 during an attempted coup d'etat in which 18 armed supporters of the former ruler of Sharjah, who actually included the former ruler, Sheikh Saqr bin Sultan (who ruled from 1951 until deposed by British in 1965), attacked and seized the palace. Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, ruler since 1965, was killed along with one of his bodyguards in the process. The palace was then surrounded by Sharjah soldiers and troops of the Union Defense Force. Several UDF troops were wounded, including a British Captain, before the rebels surrendered next morning. Sheikh Saqr was then exiled.

Sharjah-Fujairah border warEdit

In February 1972 there was a brief Border War between Bedu tribesmen from Sharjah and Fujairah over a disputed area that only covered a quarter of an acre but included water wells and date palm trees. Twenty-two people were killed and another 12 were wounded before UDF troops were able to impose a ceasefire.

See alsoEdit

  • John Gouriet - served as an Adjutant in the Trucial Oman Scouts from 1961 to 1963


  1. Heathcote, Anthony pg 145
  2. A particularly long and acrimonious disagreement involved claims over the Al Buraimi Oasis, disputed since the nineteenth century among tribes from Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and Oman. Although the tribes residing in the several settlements of the oasis were from Oman and Abu Dhabi, followers of the Wahhabi religious movement that originated in what is now Saudi Arabia had periodically occupied and exacted tribute from the area. Oil prospecting began on behalf of Saudi oil interests, and, in 1952, the Saudi Arabians sent a small constabulary force to assert control of the oasis. When arbitration efforts broke down in 1955, the British dispatched the Trucial Oman Scouts to expel the Saudi Arabian contingent. After a new round of negotiations, a settlement was reached whereby Saudi Arabia recognized claims of Abu Dhabi and Oman to the oasis. In return, Abu Dhabi agreed to grant Saudi Arabia a land corridor to the gulf and a share of a disputed oil field. Other disagreements over boundaries and water rights remained, however.
  • “The United Arab Emirates”, Malcolm C. Peck 1986
  • “The Trucial States”, Ronald Lawley 1970 IISS Military Balance

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.