Founding defence commander of Abu Dhabi military dies


bu Dhabi: Colonel Edward Bearby Wilson, the first commander of the Abu Dhabi Defence Force and Director-General of the Royal Stables, who passed away on January 2, was nicknamed 'Abu Nidham', Father of Law and Order by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

His son Charles E.V.B. Wilson told Gulf News a memorial service will be held at 1pm tomorrow at St. Andrews Church in the capital.

"He was unwell for a few days and passed away peacefully in Abu Dhabi. We were with him when the end came," said Charles, the only son of Wilson.

"My father worked closely with Shaikh Zayed to form the Abu Dhabi Defence Force, the forerunner of the UAE's Armed Forces, and was appointed its first commander, a post held until he retired in 1968," Charles said.


Born in Yorkshire, England, in 1921, Col. Wilson joined the Royal Air Force at the age of 20 and later transferred to the Worcestershire Regiment of the British Army, where he served for many years, rising to the rank of colonel.

"My father served with the Worcestershire Regiment who were stationed in the Tidworth area where he was seconded to the Trucial Oman Scouts and became a major and squadron commander stationed in the eastern region of Abu Dhabi, which was where he met Shaikh Zayed, who was governor of the eastern region and a brother of Shaikh Shakh-but, the then Ruler of Abu Dhabi," Charles said.

Charles said his father fought in the Second World War and the Korean War and took part in the Berlin Airlift and in operations in Malaya and British Honduras before coming to Abu Dhabi in 1959.

Col. Atiq Baloushi, who knew Col. Wilson for decades, said after Shaikh Zayed became Ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966, Wilson was asked to form the Abu Dhabi Defence Force, which also comprised a naval squadron and an air force wing - a job he did with great flair, skill and distinction.

"During his time with the Trucial Oman Scouts and as the commander of the Abu Dhabi Defence Force, Wilson built and cemented a lifelong friendship with Shaikh Zayed. I knew Col. Wilson for more than 30 years. He was the most hospitable of hosts and he was always happy to allow a guest to enjoy the comfort of his house, garden and pool," he said.

Baloushi said Wilson rebuilt Al Jahili Fort, where he and Shaikh Zayed used to meet and go riding in the morning. "Wilson also restored a mosque which was heavily damaged and disgraced by some soldiers."

Lieutenant Colonel Ali Abdul Kareem, who also served with Colonel Wilson for a long time, said: "He was very meticulous in his military work and was a highly charismatic and innovative trainer of soldiers and some of the exercises he devised were remarkably close to the real thing."

Col. Wilson, who retired after helping the UAE form the Abu Dhabi Defence Force, was also asked by Shaikh Zayed to form the Royal Stables which he did in 1973, Charles said.

"He was Director-General of the Royal Stables from 1973 to 2004 when Shaikh Zayed passed away," his son said.

"My father and Shaikh Zayed used to ride horses from the Al Jahili Fort to Jebel Hafit. He organised the stables and also got the UAE purebred Arabian horses into the World Arabian Horse Organisation.

"He also played a major role when the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club's race course was built," Charles said.

A keen sportsman, Col. Wilson is said to have enjoyed a very active life and was fit to the very end.

In 2007, many got a glimpse of the man when he received the Abu Dhabi Award from Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

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