On this day in 1991, British military offensive operations in the Persian Gulf began.
The British contribution was called Operation GRANBY, operating as part of the international coalition operation to liberate Kuwait from Iraq. It was the largest contribution to the coalition effort by any of the European nations, totalling over 2,700 armoured vehicles and 45,000 personnel.
Up to the formal ceasefire on 11th April 1991, the Royal Navy carried out over 3,000 challenges and took part in 36 boardings of merchant vessels while enforcing the trade embargo. Royal Navy Lynx helicopters were employed in the direct role and were responsible for the destruction of the bulk of the Iraqi navy.
The Royal Air Force flew over 4,000 sorties, first targeting enemy airbases in order to neutralise the threat from Iraqi air forces, before switching to targets related to the support of the Iraqi forces in Kuwait. The air phase lasted six weeks and was critical for shaping the conditions ahead of the ground offensive.
The ground phase of the operation saw the British 1st Armoured Division carry out the famous left hook manoeuvre which outflanked the Iraqi forces. Pivotal in this action were the Challenger tanks which destroyed over 300 Iraqi vehicles, chalking up the longest-range confirmed tank kill in the war from a range of 3 miles.
The Gulf War Medal was approved in 1992 and was awarded to nearly 60,000 members of the UK armed forces. In order to qualify for the medal, an individual needed to have accrued 30 days continuous service in the area of operations, which included Cyprus.