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Old 25-04-15, 12:06 PM
Eddie Parks's Avatar
Eddie Parks Eddie Parks is offline
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Default Ras al Khaimah Mobile Force

Ras al Khaimah Mobile Force

Ras al Khaimah (RAK) is one of the smallest of the seven Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. It lies in the northeast of the UAE and is divided into two parts, one on the Gulf coast that includes the capital, also known as Ras al Khaimah and the second smaller part inland with no coastline.

When the British announced their plans to withdraw from the area in the late 1960s the seven Emirates began planning to join their destinies together in what would become the UAE. But that of course did not mean that they actually trusted each other. And the smaller Emirates felt they were likely to be bullied by the larger and richer Abu Dhabi and Dubai, both of which were in the process of establishing private armies of their own.

Up until this point the security of the area had been in the hands of the Trucial Oman Scouts (TOS), a British led unit that had established a reputation for evenhandedness and military prowess.

Little RAK could not afford a big army, in fact it could not really afford a little army, but Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed had contacts in far off places and found the funding for his army in Saudi Arabia, always keen to build up it’s prestige in the area and still smarting from having been put in it’s place by the British and in particular the TOS.

But he still needed an officer to raise, train and mold the force he wanted and found him in the shape of David Neild, a young major serving with the TOS. Neild had operated in the RAK area and was known to the tribesmen and a man who could be trusted. He was duly persuaded to resign his British commission and build a private army in RAK.

The army he built would become the Ras al Khaimah Mobile Force (RAKMF). Numbering just 300 men when it was first raised in 1961 it was equipped with Ferret scout cars, GPMGs, mortars and later Belfast built Shoreland armoured cars. The force was highly effective and remained in being until it was finally absorbed into the UAE army in 1976.

The RAKMF was uniformed in a similar way to the other British influenced units in the trucial states. Field dress was a khaki shirt and slacks with a blue-grey shamagh with a black agal. British officers generally wore suede desert boots and the soldiers wore chaplis – brown leather sandals. For barracks and parade officers had olive green bush jackets and soldiers wore a brick red beret. The basic badge of the force was a representation of a tribal watchtower with a scroll underneath reading Ras al Khaimah in Arabic.

Information on the RAKMF insignia is virtually non-existent and the best source is a brief film documentary made in 1961 or 1962 by a very youthful John Snow. From the images in the film we can see that Neild – and presumably his officers -wore the force badge on his agal and as collar badges on his bush jacket. Unfortunately there is no picture in which both are visible, but it would be normal to expect that the “cap” badge would be larger than the collars. Judging by the size of the agal the badge looks to be about 60mm high while the collars seem smaller. Buttons and rank badges seem to be of white metal. There seem to be no shoulder titles.

The other ranks cap badge, worn on the red beret also seems about 60mm high and might be made of brass, although the colour values on the film are poor.

Looking at actual badges from my collection the basic badge is of really good quality manufacture and is 40mm high with British style lugs N/S. Note that the detail of this badge is at variance with the OR’s badge. I am beginning to think this may be a collar badge.

The centre of the second badge is virtually identical with the first but is enclosed in a palm leaf wreath and with E/W lugs. I am inclined to think this may be a latter pattern or perhaps an officer’s beret badge?

Can anybody add to the general knowledge, was there a shoulder title? Or buttons?
Attached Images
File Type: png Neild badge.png (95.4 KB, 121 views)
File Type: jpg Neild collars.jpg (11.5 KB, 125 views)
File Type: png Beret Badge.png (114.8 KB, 92 views)
File Type: jpg Badge 1.jpg (39.2 KB, 107 views)
File Type: jpg Badge 2.jpg (50.3 KB, 78 views)
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