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Barry Davis BEM

Discussion in 'Roll of Honor & Memories - All Other Conflicts' started by GRW, May 22, 2016.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Oct 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Stirling, Scotland
    "Barry Davies, who has died aged 71, was an SAS counter-terrorist expert and took part in a daring raid on a hijacked German airliner in Somalia.

    On October 13 1977, a Boeing 737 airliner on a Lufthansa flight from Palma, Majorca, to Frankfurt was hijacked by four members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Eight-six passengers (including 11 German beauty queens) and five crew were taken hostage. The terrorists demanded the release of leaders of the Red Army Faction (RAF), known in its early stages as the Baader-Meinhof Group, held in German jails, together with two Palestinians held by Turkey.

    Helmut Schmidt, the German Chancellor, asked for assistance from the British government and Davies, then a sergeant, and Major Alastair Morrison, second-in-command of 22 SAS, were summoned to Downing Street. Davies told assembled ministers and heads of security organisations together with members of GSG9, the West German anti-terrorist unit, that, in his opinion, an assault using the recently developed stun grenade offered the best chance of freeing the hostages.

    For the next few days, Davies and Morrison trailed the airliner as it was moved from one airport to another in Europe and the Middle East. Several airports refused to let the aircraft land. In Bahrain, it touched down with only enough fuel for three more minutes in the air.

    In Dubai, the SAS and GSG9 contingents were on the point of making an assault when the Lufthansa jet took off and flew to Aden. There, the pilot, Captain Jürgen Schumann, was shot dead. The aircraft flew on to Mogadishu in the Somali Democratic Republic.

    Negotiators in the control tower engaged the terrorists in protracted discussions order to give the raiding party time to re-train. As a result, the hijackers became increasingly nervous. The male passengers were tied up with stockings taken from the women. In the intense heat, the stench from inadequate sanitation, and fumes from highly inflammable duty-free spirits with which the terrorists had doused the cabin, created intolerable conditions.

    The authorities ostensibly agreed for the German and Turkish prisoners to be flown to Mogadishu and the terrorists agreed to a final extension of the deadline to allow time for this. If there was any further delay, they insisted that they would destroy the aircraft and all its passengers.

    President Siad Barre of Somalia gave his permission for an assault. The control tower kept up a continuous dialogue with the terrorists, relaying fictitious accounts of the progress of the prisoners. At eight o’clock on the evening of October 18, 28 members of GSG9 arrived in Mogadishu. Davies and Morrison put on GSG9 shirts to avoid any risk of “blue on blue” casualties. All wore body armour; some carried pistols, others sub-machine guns.

    Shortly before midnight, the raiding party moved off. The plan was to approach from the rear of the aircraft, the “blind spot,” but the airfield lights gave them gigantic shadows and some anxious moments. While the assault ladders carried by the six teams were being erected, Somali soldiers lit a large bonfire on the runway in front of the aircraft to create a diversion and draw the hijackers into the cockpit.

    The non-fragmentation grenades were designed to stun anyone close to the detonation for between three and five seconds. Davies pulled the pins of two of them. He threw one over the starboard wing and another over the cockpit. This exploded two feet above the flight deck.

    He then scaled a ladder on to the wing and followed two GSG9 soldiers through the hatchway into the aircraft. The terrorists exploded two grenades and there was a fire fight for close to five minutes, largely confined to the flight deck, with shouts to the passengers of “Get down! Get down!” while continuous gunfire rattled up and down the aircraft.

    Morrison cradled one of the beauty queens in his arms as he helped her down from the wing. “I’m afraid you may have to give her back,” Davies shouted to him. One member of GSG9 had been hit and three passengers and a stewardess were slightly wounded. Two of the terrorists had been shot dead. A third died a few hours later in hospital. News of the rescue of the passengers was followed by the deaths in custody of three of the Red Army group. Davies was awarded the British Empire Medal. Morrison was appointed OBE.

    Barry Davies, the son of a farmer, was born on November 22 1944 at Wem, Shropshire, and was educated locally. He subsequently joined the Welsh Guards, was posted to the 1st Bn and served with them in BAOR and Aden."

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