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1st Bn Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment


 Libya 1960

The first overseas test of the joint airportable strategic reserve came in March 1960 with Exercise Starlight in Libya. Its aim was to practice the air move of a Brigade group to an undeveloped country, and to maintain it there by air during operations against a middle eastern aggressor equipped with modern weapons including tanks.

Both logistically and tactically, Starlight provided unique experience for staffs and units, and the exercise area, the barren desert and rugged Jebel Akdar west of El Adem, gave them through practice in air movement and re-supply. By the end of the exercise the brigade airhead at Tmimi was 60 miles forward of the Strategic airfield at El Adem, the fighting troops 50 miles beyond that, and a total of 3,550 personnel, 670 vehicles and trailers, 40 guns and 2 million pounds of freight were moved throughout the brigade airhead. Major General HARINGTON stated afterwards that the exercise was of enormous value, but perhaps his most significant conclusion was that a lightweight force operating in good tank country against a well equipped enemy must have its own tanks. The Malkara (A defensive weapon) even when supplemented by hunter FGA aircraft, could not provide the offensive anti-Armour capability so essential to a force if it is to intervene successfully. He recommended that tanks should be stockpiled overseas in areas where they might be needed, and that suitable shipping should be earmarked, capable of transporting and unloading tanks at an unsophisticated port with its own derricks. He also sounded a warning against the danger of overloading the infantryman beyond his fighting capacity, which could result from the constant efforts to reduce transport.

To the Infantrymen of the 1st Battalion Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment all the above would have been rather academic apart from the Generals concluding comments regarding the weight carried by Infantrymen. 




Area of Operations, Exercise Starlight

Units Engaged on Exercise Starlight
Army Royal Air Force
H.Q. 3rd Division H. Q. 38 Group R.A.F.
1st Guards Brigade Group L.R.T. Force
2nd Bn Scots Guards 99 Squadron (Britannias)
1st Bn Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment Strike Force
25 Field Regiment R.A. 8 Hunters
Malkara Troop Queens own Hussars M.R.T. Force
'B' Squadron Royal Horse Guards 12 Beverlys and 4 Hastings
23 Field Squadron R.E. S.R.T. Force
  8 Pioneers and 12 Whirlwinds
Enemy for Exercise Starlight
1st Battalion the Welch Regiment
'A' (Ajax) Squadron, 2nd Royal Tank Regiment

Resupply Ex Starlight

Pioneers landing at Tmimi

On Exercise Starlight, a Brigade group (Inc 1 DERR) was re-supplied entirely by air. Troops of 1 Guards Brigade airhead Coy R.A.S.C., unload a twin pioneer of 230 Squadron at Tmimi. Single Pioneers of 230 Squadron landing, taxi-ing and unloading at a forward airstrip west of Tmimi.

Whirlwind at Brigade Airhead

Beverly landing at Tmimi

A Whirlwind of 225 Squadron picking up an under slung load of fuel at the 1 Guards Brigade airhead, Tmimi, to be lifted to be lifted forward to units in the Jebel Akdar (Inc 1 DERR) The airhead at Tmimi quickly became a dustbowl as Beverly's maintained a shuttle service from El Adem with combat supplies.

Soldiers of 1 DERR at Derna

Soldiers (Including Ray POVEY) from 1 DERR relax on the beach at Derna during the Exercise

The Web team would like to thank Ray POVEY and the Regimental Museum at Salisbury for their assistance with this page
                             Copyright 2000 All rights reserved.
                            Revised: 23 May 2003.