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[The Looking and Cooking Medals]
Major Kerry Lee, ED BA
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I was in the Middle East from August 1974 to Oct 1976. I arrived a year after the Yom Kippur War and while the combat areas were still being cleaned up. My postings were to Syria with UNDOF and to the Sinai with UNTSO. The operational area was really a series of areas with prohibitions on weapons, missiles and vehicles. So we spent a lot of time patrolling no missile zones, limited armour zones and demilitarized zones along the borders as well as manning static OPs.

From the very beginning of our tours we all spent a good deal of time looking over the recent battlefields. Doing crater analysis was difficult by the time we got to it but tank fire examinations were very interesting. Unexploded HESH and HEPT projectiles or the bolts from APDS were often in telltale patterns in relation to knocked out targets or old hull down locations. Minefields were a specific hazard and a constant worry whenever we were in the old combat zones. Many Sinai fields were as old as 1956, and in the Golan we often had reports of scatter bombs as well as anti-tank and anti-personnel mines. For a short time I was a liaison officer with the Polish Engineer de-mining teams on the Sinai. I was very happy that they insisted on my being a long way from the working team.

On 5 Dec 75 I was one of a number of officers detached from HQ in Damascus to join the monitoring team in Egypt as part of the deal brokered by Henry Kissinger. This made me the first Kiwi posted to Egypt since the RNZN had taken part in the Suez Landings in 1956. And yet as soon as the stall holders in the Khan Kalili saw my shoulder flashes I was greeted with "Kia Ora Kiwi" and "gidday Kiwi".


All of the Soviet and some WW2 German armour types were to be found somewhere along the way. T34 and Tiger tanks were hull down in defence works as OP/pill box locations, while Soviet, British and American tanks, with all sorts of tracked, wheeled and half-tracked APC, were in operational use by the various armies. The new stuff for me was the RPG and Sagger launchers. We quickly learned to identify the guide wires left on the ground in places like the Chinese Farm battlefield.


There was the full variety of SP and towed field, medium and heavy artillery. The Israeli units used American and European gear while the Arab armies were equipped with a range of Warsaw Pact items. The Syrians had many towed field pieces and it was good to see textbook deployments of Soviet style gunlines up to Regimental level. It made locating the RHQ in a new area very easy once a gun battery was identified. All units in the Arab armies had colour coded tac signs on their vehicles and formation headquarters.

Air Defence equipment was most interesting to me as an ex-AA gunner. In the Sinai there were radar controlled QuadZSU air defence batteries as well as the ubiquitous towed 37mm and multiple machine gun types. And every formation had SAM batteries.

OP and Patrol duties

Routine patrols of the monitored zones were organised on both sides of the CFL in conjunction with the local authority. Involving long miles in C4 Jeeps and much "flag waving" by all concerned, they were usually very boring. Much more interesting were line verification and line violation inspections. A great deal of time was saved by simply reviewing the likely ground of tactical importance and looking there. Unless there was some over-riding political objection the GTI was always occupied by someone. Even though most of the Syrian communications were by land line the Israeli forward units sprouted huge aerial sites with receivers pointed both in and out of Israel. The skyline [together with the plastic bags ,tins, and other litter around the perimeter] was the quick identifier for IDF positions.

Aid to the Civil Authority [Counting Bedouin]

In the Sinai we had to monitor the withdrawal of Israeli authority under the Kissinger Agreement. As well as physically establishing the line across the sandhills we were asked to verify the location and numbers of civilians resident in the area at the time. Driving sand-tyred jeeps for six or seven hours a day saw a lot of sand, some date palms, a swag of wild camels, a couple of herds of antelope and a surprising number of goat-herd family groups. Soon after this the Egyptians bussed in a large number of "returning refugees" who set up village sites along the main roads. These initial collections used sleepers from the WW1 ANZAC railway line for house frames. The Israeli had taken all the steel and copper wire but many of the telegraph poles [cut off at waist height], sleepers and NZG insulator cups were still there buried in the sand.

U344489 K F Lee, [retd], March 2001

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