Remembering OA William H Donnelly (1921-1925)

UK Opens Permanent Military Site in Al Minhad, UAE

Donnelly Lines Opened 1 March 2024

The UK has opened a permanent military centre, the Donnelly Lines, at the Al Minhad Air Base in the UAE.

Facilities at the site include a headquarters, accommodation hub, and welfare spaces to support Royal Air Force warfighters stationed in the country.

The opening ceremony, led by the British Princess Royal, included a joint flyby salute from the UAE Air Force Al Fursan aerobatics display team in MB-339 light combat jet and London’s A400M Atlas military transport aircraft.

A UK-UAE parade, tour, and commemoration of the centre’s namesake, Sergeant William Donnelly, were also held during the event.

The Princess Royal met with the late soldier’s family and Al Minhad personnel during the signing of the base’s legacy Joint Force Support flag.

William Donnelly was an Air Force navigator who lost his life in 1943 during the Second World War at Fujairah, 57 miles (121 kilometers) east of Al Minhad. The sergeant’s Vickers Wellington long-range medium bomber aircraft experienced an oil leak while flying from RAF Sharjah to India.

This forced the plane to crash-land on the coast of Sayh Dhadnah, resulting in the death of the airman and “irreparable damage to the aircraft.”

Three surviving crew members used the bomber’s parts and nearby stones to stack Donnelly’s grave. An official memorial was later established in 2010. It remains a symbol of London and Abu Dhabi’s ongoing strategic partnership.

Source: The Defence Post, 7 March 2024