Army Challenger - Operation Desert Storm 1991 Gulf War by Terence Cuneo
On 28th February 1991, the British 1st Armoured Division made their final advance in the Gulf War. Their destination was to be astride the Kuwait City-Basra highway, known as Objective COBALT. Their task was to cut off the remnants of the Iraqi Army as it fled from Kuwait, northwards. In the end, it had only taken 100 hours to rout the Iraqi Army, once the fourth largest in the world. The first British Forces despatched to the Gulf were Tornado aircraft deployed in early August, 1990. On 14th September 1990, Parliament announced the deployment of the 7th Armoured Brigade from its barracks in Germany. Two Regiments of Challenger tanks, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and The Queens Royal Irish Hussars as well as the 1st Battalion, The Staffordshire Regiment, an armoured infantry regiment, were despatched. It soon became obvious that the Iraqis were not going to pull out of Kuwait and might have to be ejected by force. Parliament therefore sanctioned, on 22nd November 1990, the despatch of a further brigade from Germany, the 4th Armoured Brigade. Unlike the 7th Armoured Brigade, it only had one Challenger Regiment, the 14/20th Kings Hussars, but two armoured infantry regiments, the 15th Battalion, The Royal Scots and the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. To coordinate both brigades and their support and logistic assets in the field, the Headquarters of the 1st Armoured Division was also despatched, making the British deployment the largest the country has seen since the Second World War. The British 1st Armoured Division was deployed to the Gulf with some of the most sophisticated and up-to-date equipment seen on the modern battlefield. Central to this were the Challenger Mk. 3s and the Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles. Both were heavily modified for fighting in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, with primary importance being given to protection. The deployment of the Challengers and Warriors were augmented with 18 Lynx Mk.7s of 4 Regiment, the Army Air Corps. The Mk. 7 is a dedicated anti-tank helicopter armed with 8 TOW anti-tank missiles. The proposed use for these aircraft was to form a forward screen in front of the advancing brigades, thus giving warning of enemy units as well as engaging any detected enemy armour. By the beginning ofJanuary 1991, the British 1st Armoured Division was fully deployed in the Gulf. Not long after, it was redeployed tinder command of the VII(US) corps that was secretly moxing to an area some 300k in to the west. Even as the first air attacks were launched against the Iraqi forces, massive convoys were moving towards the Saudi town of Hafir-al-Batin. On 24th February, simultaneous assaults were launched along the whole of the Kuwait and Iraqi borders. The American Ist Infantry Division, The Big Red One, led the VII(US) Corps and by nightfall had cleared sixteen lanes through the Iraqi positions. So well did the advance go that the British 1st Armoured Division was launched some twelve hours earlier than had been expected. 7th Armoured Brigade preceded 4th and both were well clear of the break-in point and forming up within a matter of hours. During the next 95 hours, both brigades fought their way first northwards and then eastwards through one Iraqi position after another. The case with which they defeated the enemy, already badly mauled by six weeks of constant air bombardment and now subjected to murderous artillery fire, surprised even the most confident commanders. By the third day, 28th February, the Coalition Forces had encircled the occupying Iraqi Forces within Kuwait causing them to retreat northwards towards Basra. By this time, the Iraqis were offering no resistance. Such was their overwhelming defeat, that the Coalition Commanders advised the American President, George Bush, to suspend offensive combat operations. This he did, announcing a general ceasefire to take effect at midnight on 27/28th February 1991. The difference between American Eastern Standard Time and Greenwich Meantime was five hours. It was decided, therefore, that the British 1st Armoured Division would move with best speed to the Kuwait City-Basra Highway to finally close the noose around the fleeing Iraqi forces. The British objective was known as COBALT and lay some 70kin due cast. At fifteen minutes notice to move, both British brigades made one final dash to their last objective, some 30-odd kilometres north of Kuwait City itself. That last morning action will be remembered for a long time by those who were there and is the scene portrayed in Cuneos painting. Above them, the dense clouds of the burning oil and gas rigs blocked out the bright desert sun. As they approached their final objective, the remains of numerous Iraqi vehicles littered the desert. Most of them had been destroyed from the air. Iraqi T-69 tanks lay wrecked, their turrets blown off by the force of exploding ammunition. Preceded by the Lynx helicopters, the British knew they were nearing their objectives due to the lines of pylons that intersected the desert, now mostly with their cables dangling in the sand. Within two hours, COBALT was secured, ensuring the final Iraqi defeat.
|Item Code : LI0011||Army Challenger - Operation Desert Storm 1991 Gulf War by Terence Cuneo - This Edition|
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|PRINT|| Signed limited edition of 850 prints. || Image size 17.5 inches x 23.5 inches (44cm x 60cm)|| Billiere, Peter De La|
+ Artist : Terence Cuneo
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