Colonel Stewart Francis Newcombe was already a legend in the deserts of Arabia before he was joined in Cairo during the early months of the First World War by a group of extraordinary specialists in Middle Eastern affairs. One member of this group was T.E. Lawrence who went on to achieve worldwide fame. Colonel Newcombe's story, like those of other unsung figures in the Anglo-Arabian panoply, has been eclipsed by the legend of ´Lawrence of Arabia´, and has languished in the dusty recesses of regimental records, government files or in the elliptical words of Lawrence’s book Seven Pillars of Wisdom. However, S.F. Newcombe´s untold story is there to be told. IN THE SHADOW OF THE CRESCENT is a story of extraordinary exploits and courage, coupled with Newcombe's own legendary and inexhaustible supply of energy and of remarkable adventures under the very noses of the Ottoman authorities – full of danger, intrigue and perhaps more surprisingly, of romance during Newcombe's captivity in Turkey.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Code-name Operation Newcombe

There is evidence that the British contribution to the French military action in Mali has been named after Colonel S.F. Newcombe. Operation Newcombe has been running since January 2013 when the British Prime Minister David Cameron put all sections of the military on alert for an "emergency deployment" to Mali to support French forces who are battling al-Qaeda forces in the northern African nation in an operation the French have themselves code-named Serval. The Royal Airforce has since played a role by deploying two C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport planes of No. 99 Squadron from RAF Station Brize Norton to the French Écreux Air Base on 13 January. Later in the same month the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) deployed a Sentinel R1 Surveillance aircraft to support the French forces. A small party of 40 'advisors' was also sent to Mali but was said to not be involved in combat.

Operation Serval has successfully secured a number of towns and is currently scaling down its activities in the hope that the Malian government forces will be able to take the initiative forward supported by a reduced French presence and a contingent of UN forces. It is not known what prompted the MoD to name the British operation after the colonel other than perhaps in recognition of his past military contribution to his country.