Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Aden by crescent

The only logical conclusion as to why Crescent made their so called Desert Warriors at the time they made them is Aden, they were beyond logic, no adversaries to fight and obviously not 8th army in the second world just like their paras below.
Aden was originally of interest to Britain as an anti-piracy station to protect shipping on the routes to British India. With the advent of the Suez canal in 1869, it further served as a coaling station. Following the independence of India in 1947, Aden became of less importance to the United Kingdom.
The Emergency was precipitated in large part by a wave of Arab nationalism spreading to the Arabian Peninsula and stemming largely from the socialist and pan-Arabist doctrines of theEgyptian leader Gamel Abdel Nasser. The British, French and Israeli forces that had invaded Egypt following Nasser's nationalisation of the Suez Canal in 1956 had been forced to withdraw following intervention from both the United States and the Soviet Union.File:Capesize bulk carrier at Suez Canal Bridge.JPG
By 1963 and in the ensuing years, anti-British guerrilla groups with varying political objectives began to coalesce into two larger, rival organizations: first the Egyptian-supported National Liberation Front (NLF) and then the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY), who attacked each other as well as the British. Hostilities started with a grenade attack by the NLF against the British High Commissioner on 10 December 1963, killing one person and injuring fifty.
Nasser enjoyed only limited success in spreading his pan-Arabist doctrines through the Arab world, with his 1958 attempt to unify Egypt and Syria as the United Arab Republiccollapsing in failure three years later. A perceived anti-colonial uprising in Aden in 1963 provided another potential opportunity for his doctrines, though it is not clear to what extent Nasser directly incited the revolt in Aden, as opposed to the Yemeni guerrilla groups drawing inspiration from Nasser's pan-Arabist ideas but acting independently themselves

By 1965, the RAF station (RAF Khormaksar) was operating nine Squadrons. These included transport units with helicopters and a number of Hawker Hunter fighter bomber aircraft. These were called in by the army for strikes against positions in which they would use 60-pounder high explosive rockets and their 30 mm Aden cannon.Quad ADEN 30mm Cannon.jpg
The emergency was further exacerbated by the Arab-Israeli war in June of 1967. Nasser claimed that the British had helped Israel in the Six-Day War, and this led to a mutiny in theSouth Arabian Federation Army on 20 June, which also spread to the police. In July 1967, order was restored following the Battle of Crater. File:Aden crater.jpgThis battle, which was part of Operation Stirling Castle, brought Lt-Col Colin Campbell Mitchell (AKA "Mad Mitch") of the 1st Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to prominence.MadMitch.JPG

Nevertheless, deadly guerrilla attacks, by the NLF, soon resumed against British forces once again, with the British leaving Aden by the end of November 1967, earlier than had been planned by British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and without an agreement on the succeeding governance. Their enemies, the NLF, managed to seize power and establish the People's Republic of South Yemen.
Irrespective of the fact that the Suez Canal was shut by Nasser on the eve of the six day war, it was to be closed anyhow in the wake of that war because it served as the demarcation line between the Egyptians and the Israeli occupied Sinai desert. File:Katharinenkloster Sinai BW 2.jpgAnd irrespective of the closure of the Suez Canal, the British Naval base at Aden also closed in 1967. These factors would deprive the new oil-poor South Yemeni nation of valuable business and revenue, and precipitate severely disruptive economic circumstances for years afterward.Some have postulated that these economic strains helped to "fuel extremist movements" in South Yemen which led, in turn, to many young South Yemeni mujahideen joining to fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan after 1979.


By Les Hooper


The day dawned clear and bright. Like every other day in Aden. I crawled out of bed, hot and sticky. The damned air conditioner was on the blink, again! I rubbed my weary eyes. Didn’t get to bed till after two o’clock. Last night a silly squaddy on guard duty over at Little Aden shot himself in the hand. Deliberate? Who knows? His story was he was cocking his Sten gun when it went off. In a panic he stuck his hand over the end of the muzzle to stop the rounds firing.

Yes, it’s true.

By the time I reached the office just after seven o’clock, the sun was already scorching. You could wring the sweat out of my shirt. I had a chat with the lads, discussed a few cases and what should be done then settled down to check a couple of reports and brief the RAF OC on what had happened in the past 24 hours. Not that he was agog with excitement.

An hour later the first call of the day came in. There were two more bodies lying in the mortuary at the RAF hospital, soldiers from the infantry brigade. Both had been shot in the head. I dragged myself along to the hospital. The oppressive heat sucked all the energy from your body.

The report was dead accurate. Two bodies. Both with fatal head wounds. One of them had an entry wound at the back of the skull and an exit wound at the front. The other had only an entry wound at the back of the skull. The bullet was still in his brain. They had been travelling in a Landrover at the time of death.

It didn’t take long to discover what had happened. A security patrol was travelling along the main drag, Maalla, in a Landrover. The occupants were the driver, a soldier in the passenger seat and three more in the rear. All carried Sten guns. Suddenly the Landrover hit a pothole. The Sten gun of the rear-most soldier was not on safety and the jolt caused the weapon to fire. The round entered the head of the man next to him, came out at the front and lodged in the head of the man in the front passenger seat. Sten guns had a nasty habit of firing without due cause.

There was no reason to suspect the story and the rest of the enquiry was the usual routine.

At lunchtime the bodies began to pile up. This time it was two SACs from RAF Khormaksar. All units in Aden were plastered with warning notices to be extra alert when wandering the city streets. The local struggle for independence was running at full throttle and the alleyways were clogged with Arabs with concealed grenades or guns under their robes ready to chuck or shoot at unwary Brits.

Perhaps the two SACs thought they were immune from assassination. The RAF never did seem to have the same awareness of danger as the army. Probably something to do with being molly-coddled. Anyway the two men who were about to die decided to go souvenir hunting in a crowded and smelly back warren behind Maalla. They were bending over a stall of goodies in front of a shop when an Arab picked them as a prime and easy target. He pulled out a .38 and put a bullet in each of their heads before making his escape.

He was never caught.

But they didn’t always succeed.

Later an Arab produced a grenade, tugged out the pin and just as he was raising his arm to lob the missile at a squaddy, the intended victim spun round and saw him. The Arab quickly hid the grenade back under his robe. Five seconds later he was enjoying the pleasure of his 72 virgins. Expendable killers were paid around ten bob for each attack but sadly for them, the training wasn’t up to scratch. His leader had failed to tell him that when a pin was removed from a grenade the thing would explode.

An hour after the two RAF lads were shot, a civilian car blew up near Steamer Point. This time three martyrs lost their lives. No one knew where they were taking the bomb but no one cared anyway. They were history.

Later in the afternoon came a little light relief. An army wife living in a second floor flat on Maalla, a street lined with army hirings, complained that an Ordnance Corps warrant officer who lived on the same level across the street had been indecently exposing himself to her.

I popped along to have a word with her. An armed guard stood at every block entrance. As I entered a rifle shot startled me. I turned. The corporal on guard had a SLR up to his shoulder.

‘’What’s happened?’ I asked him.

‘There was an Arab with a pistol in the alley over the road,’ he said.

‘And. . .?’

‘He scarpered. I missed the bastard.’

I shrugged and climbed the stairs to the second floor.

The wife was small with frizzy hair and bright eyes. In the heat she wore a light cotton dress that exposed more than it covered. She explained that she was out on her balcony when the warrant officer came on to his balcony opposite completely nude and flashed her his equipment.

I stood on her balcony and thought she must have bloody good eyesight. The man’s flat was quite a distance across the thoroughfare, plus he would have to jump up above the parapet for her to have a clear view. I asked how she knew the man was completely naked that far away.

‘Easy,’ she said, ‘I fetched my binoculars to make sure.’

I resisted an impulse to laugh in her face.

She gave me a knowing look and asked if I’d like to stay, for a cold drink. I got out quick. She was more dangerous than the gunman in the alley.

Death was a familiar spectre in Aden.

Around five o’clock the Arab workers at RAF Khormaksar were pouring out of the main gate on finishing for the day. At the same time a RAF lorry was entering the gate. Unfortunately one of the workers got his head caught between the lorry and the gatepost. It didn’t do him a lot of good. From our side of the fence it raised some black humour about squashed Arab for dinner. From his point of view it must have been a vast disappointment: you don’t get 72 virgins for dying in a traffic accident.

After dark a British civil servant was travelling alone from Little Aden to Aden city when he was ambushed and shot to death in his private car. I went to the scene but there was little one could do under the circumstances. Everyone knew that a Brit driving alone after dark was asking for trouble and he got a great big final dose of it, in lead.

I tumbled into bed just after midnight. Christ, it was hot! The air-conditioning was still playing up.

And there was another day tomorrow.

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