The publication of this title coincides with the 25th anniversary of Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait in August 1990. After an early childhood spent in the High Range, a remote and beautiful district in the Western Ghats in South India, Bruce Duncan's initial ambition was to follow in his father's footsteps and become a tea planter. However, with this plan thwarted, he then joined the British Army and was commissioned into the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment. Born with a taste for adventure and travel and with a natural curiosity, Duncan was drawn to explore the challenges and opportunities offered by overseas loan service secondments. So, as a 23-year old lieutenant,he found himself on his way to Brunei in 1964 to join the Brunei Malay Regiment at a time when Indonesia was engaged in a campaign to destabilise the country. As a young acting captain, Duncan was given temporary command of B Company, the first Bruneian troops to deploy on active service, before being appointed as aide de camp to the Sultan of Brunei.During his tour of duty, he learnt the craft of jungle survival, visited the fascinating longhouses on the Temburong River, went on a wild boar hunt and, during a visit to Britain, negotiated the purchase of a new Daimler state limousine and a second-hand London taxi for the Sultan to take back to Brunei What then followed was an extraordinary career encompassing secondments to Sudan, Nigeria, Oman, and Kuwait, and a final assignment as Defence Attache in Jordan.
In the decades between the end of World War II and the close of the twentieth century, Britain's position on the world stage was dramatically reassessed and recalibrated. Its once mighty colonial presence was diminished and its military reach and influence across the globe was also on the wane. Bruce Duncan found himself at the heart of this period of transition, often as part of a small advisory team designed to assist countries in the development of their own armed forces. Accompanied by his wife and young family, life during these postings could be difficult and sometimes dangerous.Food, fuel and domestic comforts were often in short supply, but the Duncan family's inexhaustible resourcefulness, humour and spirit of adventure invariably turned setbacks into positive experiences. Away from the demands of his military duties, Duncan took every opportunity to explore the landscape and meet the people of each country he visited. He is fascinated by the austere beauty and uncompromising harshness of the desert; he feasts with Bedouins. He sleeps under the stars near the pyramids of Meroe in Sudan. He is caught up in the excitement of a camel race in Oman.
He soars above Wadi Rum in a hot air balloon in Jordan. He also spends an unforgettable Christmas with his family at the beautiful hill station of Kodaikanal in India where he first went to school. In 1988, however, life for Duncan and his family took a very different turn. Arriving in Kuwait just after the end of the Iran/Iraq war, tensions were high and storm clouds were building on the political horizon.After international negotiations with Saddam Hussein broke down, Duncan's dramatic and harrowing account of the events that followed bring sharply into focus the full horrors of the unanticipated and brutal Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990. Against a background of gun fire and armed conflict and with often only sporadic contact with the British Embassy, Duncan and his family were increasingly isolated. Hiding in their house, they avoided detection by Iraqi patrols by living in the dark, making as little noise as possible, communicating only in whispers - and supported by two brave Kuwaiti civilians. Duncan's wife and daughters were eventually allowed to leave Kuwait, while he and his sons remained in hiding.
Later, former UK Prime Minister Edward Heath secured the release of Duncan's two sons but the Iraqis mishandled their transfer, with tragic personal consequences.This is a multi-faceted narrative - a beautifully written travel book, a first-hand account of recent military history, a unique documentary witness of one of the key momentous political and military events of the late twentieth century, and, at its centre, the story of a remarkable family's appetite for adventure and bravery in the face of overwhelming challenges.