A Journey in the Hadhramaut

Pat Gray

Colonel “Pat” Gray was born on 1 August 1909 in a family of farmers living in South Africa, and joined the army there and served in the Artillery. He fought in the Second World War as part of the North African Desert War. Most of his unit were captured, except him, and he then volunteered to join the Arab Legion. He later resigned from the South African army to join the Arab Legion permanently in Jordan, where he served in the Third Regiment.

Following a coup in Jordan, when King Hussain said he didn’t want any British officers, Pat and Edith returned to England at very short notice. As he wasn’t from the British Army, he was out of a job, and had to take some temporary jobs in England for a year. He then applied for a job in Muscat as a Major (even though he had previously been a Colonel). While there, one of his old friends from the Arab Legion visited and offered him a job in the Aden Protectorate as the Commanding Officer of the Hadhrami Beduin Legion (HBL). The HBL was formed  in the 1940s as a neutral force recruited from all tribes. It was financed by the British Government and was responsible to the British Resident Adviser.

In July 1966, Pat Gray and his wife Edith were shot near their house as they returned from watching a film at the HBL lines. Pat Gray turned his car around and, although fatally wounded,  drove his wife two miles to the hospital where he died immediately. A helicopter from a warship evacuated his wife the following day.

A subsequent investigation revealed that the assailants were HBL soldiers. Although there may have been a personal motivation, as the principal assailant had been cashiered for striking a junior officer three days earlier, there were political overtones as the HBL troops were positioning themselves for eventual independence from Britain. Image courtesy of The Ashe Family

A Journey in the Hadhramaut Article

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by Stephen Luscombe