Why does an officer in an elite regiment - the Grenadier Guards - exchange a prestigious and privileged career in the British Army for service among desert tribes in harsh and unforgiving territory, and in the seemingly insoluble conflict of the turbulent Arab world? The answer lies in the long tradition of British military officers attracted by the romance and adventure engendered by a perceived British imperial notion of bringing peace and security to this troubled region. In this process, Arab society and culture have woven a unique spell among many a young Westerner, leading to warm, lasting and reciprocated friendships. Nigel Bromage's adventurous career, which spanned over 30 years, much of it in the Middle East, characterised all aspects of this relationship. It includes dramatic military action, much of it with the legendary Arab Legion in the first Arab-Israeli war and the struggle for Jerusalem, as well as service throughout much of Britain's remaining 'informal empire'.
Soldier in Arabia is a revealing personal memoir of the Middle East, but much more - it sheds light, through dramatic and authentic personal experience, on how Britain pursued its interests in the enduring struggles of the Middle East first via highly trained and committed military officers.
Nigel Bromage was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards in 1945 at the age of 18. In 1947 he was seconded to the Arab Legion and fought with them at the Battle of Latroun in 1948. He stayed with the Arab Legion until 1955 and then became Assistant Military Attache in the British Embassy in Amman until 1961. In 1963 Bromage was sent to Saudi Arabia to set up the British Military Mission to the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG), under the newly appointed commander, Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. He received an OBE for his work with SANG and stayed in the Arabian Peninsula for most of the rest of his service, first as an adviser the Kuwait Liaison Team and finally as Military Adviser to the British Embassy in the UAE. He retired in 1979. Over the years, he has played an integral role in Saud-British relations. Sir Alan Munro was British Ambassador in Saudi Arabia 1989-1993 and Under-Secretary of State for the Middle East and Africa.