22 SAS Matthews, George Rex

Craig Robertson

Staff member
George Rex
  • UNIT
22 SAS (G Squadron)
  • RANK
Staff Sergeant
Military Medal
Dhofar 1972
parent unit Grenadier Guards
London Gazette 46350, 24th September 1974, Page 7913


Military Medal : As SSM of G Squadron 22 SAS Regiment MATTHEMS was placed in charge of an independent and polyglot group of Arabs and British in the Dhofar numbering well over 100 men. He commanded this group between July and November, 1972. The Arabs under his control were irregular tribesmen lacking in any form of discipline and motivated only through the personal leadership exerted by the British Commander in this case MATTHEWS. At the end of the monsoon, in mid September, it was decided that a major offensive should be launched in the area under MATTHEWS' control. This was to be a part of an overall offensive throughout the whole of the eastern area of Dhofar. MATTHEWS was ordered to mount diversionary operations before the offensive started in order to confuse the enemy. He planned, organised and led three separate operations of this nature. The overall success of these operations not only confused and unbalanced the enemy but contributed in a very major way towards the success of the Eastern area operations.

During the first two operations MATTHEWS' Group inflicted some ten casualties on the enemy and captured 2 of them with no loss to his own forces. The third operation developed into a major and important battle which established his Firqat as the dominating force in his area of responsibility.

On the night of the 22nd September MATTHEWS deployed a force some 18 miles away from his base positions. Despite the fact that he was well out of range of the normal artillery and mortar support he planned and mounted a daring ambush which involved dividing his group into two separate sub-sections. MATTHEWS and his own men were the one group on the reverse slope of a thickly bushed and dominant small hill, while the other group were 800 yards to their rear and in support. At approximately 0945 hours on the 23rd September 5 enemy moved in and occupied a thicket position overlooking MATTHEWS' location. MATTHEWS and his men were well hidden and allowed the enemy to approach to within 25 yards before opening fire and killing all 5. An enemy support group of about 10 immediately engaged MATTHEWS from the flank while a further 15 moved round to his other flank with the intention of cutting him off from his support group. During this engagement one Firqat was killed. With great coolness and personal bravery MATTHEWS organised an airstrike while he regrouped his force. Having achieved this regrouping he again inflicted further casualties on the enemy and managed to recover bodies and weapons without further loss to his own forces. Whilst still under fire he organised and controlled a helicopter evacuation of these bodies and the equipment before commencing his own withdrawal.

During this withdrawal MATHEWS' force was continually harassed and it was only due to his own personal determination and leadership that the Firqat did not break up and submit themselves to a defeat.

Throughout this long and difficult operation MATTHEWS was an inspiration to British and Arabs alike and the success of this operation and the subsequent vide reaching operations throughout the eastern area largely stemmed from his personal bravery and leadership under fire.

Place : Oman
Date of Action : 22nd September 1972
How Employed : Detachment Commander