iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for Talaiasi Labalaba

Listen now 12 mins

Listen in pop-out player

Talaiasi Labalaba

12 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 31 July 2012

The New Elizabethans: Talaiasi Labalaba.

Britain's military history during the current Queen's reign has featured many interventions in Middle East politics - some successful, some disastrous - nearly all of them highly public and controversial. The Battle of Mirbat is a little-known secret. Fought in 1972, it was part of the British Army's clandestine involvement in Oman. Nine SAS troopers, plus support from a handful of Omani gunners, were pitted against hundreds of communist guerrillas. James Naughtie recounts how the bravery and self-sacrifice of one man, Talaiasi Labalaba, helped the British and Omanis to hold out and prevent a loss in one of the UK's most crucial secret conflicts. He assesses Britain's military international presence since 1952 through the exploits of this one soldier.

The New Elizabethans have been chosen by a panel of leading historians, chaired by Lord (Tony) Hall, Chief Executive of London's Royal Opera House. The panellists were Dominic Sandbrook, Bamber Gascoigne, Sally Alexander, Jonathan Agar, Maria Misra and Sir Max Hastings.

They were asked to choose: "Men and women whose actions during the reign of Elizabeth II have had a significant impact on lives in these islands and/or given the age its character, for better or worse.".


    ARCHIVE CLIP 1: Anonymous SAS veteran
    ARCHIVE CLIP 2: Anonymous SAS veteran
    ARCHIVE CLIP 3: Anonymous SAS veteran
    ARCHIVE CLIP 4: BBC1 News Report of the Iranian Embassy Siege (05/04/1980)


    SAS Operation Storm: Nine Men Against Four Hundred by Roger Cole and Richard Belfield (2011)



  1. Image for The New Elizabethans

    The New Elizabethans

    To mark Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, James Naughtie introduces the 60 new Elizabethans who…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss