P.S. Allfree, who was educated at Bedford School, enlisted in the ranks in the Army in 1948 when he was seventeen. The next year he went to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and after being commissioned in the Infantry served in Libya, Egypt and Arabia. His experiences in the last named as an officer of the Trucial Oman Levies from 1954 to 1955 and later from 1957 to 1962, when he was in the Sultan of Muscat and Oman’s Army, were the subject of his first book, Warlords of Oman. In between these two periods he had what he describes as a ‘brief aberration’ as an unsuccessful student-pilot in the RAF. After leaving the Sultan’s Army he served as a political officer in the East Aden Protectorate and his experiences there are the subject of Hawks of the Hadhramaut.
Late in 1963 Mr Allfree went to Kenya where, after a brief period running a tourist lodge in a game park, he took up an appointment on the editorial staff of Kenya Weekly News. Mr Allfree died in 2006, aged seventy-five.
Hawks of the Hadhramaut by P. S. Allfree Synopsis
Readers of P.S. Allfree’s previous book of Arabian memoirs, Warlords of Oman, will recall his closing words ‘I was going to see more of Arabia.’ In these pages he recounts a year and a half spent as a political officer among the Bedouin of the south-eastern Rub’ al-Khali, the ‘Empty Quarter’.
The many fascinating characters in this ancient land spring happily to life: the wise Judge of the Saar who chewed tobacco and whose name was ‘Son of the jerboa’; Sulayim, the serpent-subtle eminence grise of the desert, whom the author employs as a secret key to unlock the doors of the Mahra, a wild and inhospitable race; ‘Aunty’ Hussein, the motherly Secretary of State in the Sultanate of Sayun, and many others. Notable amongst a crowded chronicle of incidents are the Case of the Hamstringed Camel, which nearly leads to a tribal war; the author’s embroilment with a terrifying tribe of what he calls ‘nightmare Teddy-boys, armed to the eyebrows’; and the final exciting expedition, which is the climax of this work, the coup de main which brings the government to the wild and anarchic Mahra.