Saturday, October 16, 2010

UAE In World War II

Stig Morten asked how the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was involved in World War II. To be honest I wasn't sure and I had to ask around a little bit and do some quick research. It's not a large part of their history, so I hadn't heard much about their involvement in the war and that made me think they must not have played a very active role.

I found a recent quote from the ruler of one of the emirates (Fujairah), who said, "The Second World War was the deadliest military conflict the world has ever seen, with over 60 million people being killed. We in the United Arab Emirates were fortunate not to be directly involved, although forces from Britain, the United States and other Allies made use of bases in the Emirates." During World War II the United Arab Emirates (not yet a nation in its current form) was a British protectorate and was therefore used as locations for Allied airfields.

As far as I can tell, only one Allied soldier died in the United Arab Emirates during World War II. Sergeant William ("Billy") Donnelly, a British navigator, was killed on 14 February, 1943 when his Wellington Bomber crash landed. After a refuelling stop in Sharjah the plane took off again for Gwadar, a city on the coast of Pakistan. About half-an-hour into the flight (when it was over the sea), oil started to leak from an engine before the propeller flew off the engine. The pilot turned back and crash-landed at Sayh Dhadnah. Sergeant Donnelly died of his injuries from the cash and was buried close to the site in a nearby local cemetery. A memorial was recently dedicated to honor Donnelly and his family was able to attend the event.

I will continue to look for other ways the United Arab Emirates was involved in World War II, but since it didn't become a nation until 1971 I'm not sure I'll find much. Thanks for the question, Stig Morten! I hope this gave you some information you hadn't known before.

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