The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's)

'Sans Peur'       Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders red and white dicing       'Ne Obliviscaris'

Active Service, Aden, South Arabia 1967

Click here to send details if you have any stories, photographs or other information of service with the Argylls in Aden.

Historical Background

British Aden was made up two parts. The first part was the Aden Colony which consisted of 70 square miles of rock and sand situated along the coast of the Red Sea. Within this area was the port of Aden, the airfield called RAF Khormaksar, the BP oil refinery, the town of Little Aden and the Crater district, which housed seven hundred thousand Arabs.

All of these areas were located around a natural deep-water harbour which had been created by an extinct volcano.

The second part of British Aden was called the Aden Protectorate. This area was about the size of England and was split into two parts, the Eastern and the Western Protectorates.

These Protectorates were crossed by two major roads. One road headed towards the British base at Dhala on the Yemen border while the other road ran into Yemen. The Dhala road was fiercely contested between local warring Arabs, British troops and the National Liberation Front (NLF) who used the road to smuggle arms into Aden.

Right mouse to zoom in, then left mouse to drag on the maps

Military Background
Aden and Radfan
South Arabia 1957-1967

The Aden Emergency began on 10th December 1963, when an insurgency of the National Liberation Front (NLF), which was vehemently opposed to British rule, carried-out a grenade attack against the British High Commission. This attack killed one person, injured fifty, and caused the British Government to declare a "state of emergency".

In 1964, the British Government announced that it would grant in 1968, independence to the Federation of South Arabia (FSA). However, a condition of this independence was that the British military would maintain a presence in Aden.

In January 1967, there were mass riots in the Arab quarter of Aden town by the NLF and the rival faction known as the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY).

The intervention by British troops to pacify the situation failed, and the riots continued until mid February.

British troops experienced many attacks during that period, and Aden Airlines suffered the loss of a DC3 plane when it was destroyed in mid-air. There were no survivors of this attack.

On 30th November 1967, British troops finally withdrew from Aden. In a mark of historic symbolism, The Royal Marines, who had been the first British troops to occupy Aden in 1839, were the last to leave the area.

Aden and the Federation of South Arabia were left under control of the NLF. Aden became the capital of the new People's Republic of South Yemen. This was renamed in 1970 to become the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen.

When northern and southern Yemen were unified in 1990, Aden was no longer a national capital but remained the capital of the newly formed Aden Governorate. The 1994 Census determined that the area of the Governorate of Aden is about 1000 square kilometers and now has a population well over 500,000.

the Governorate of Aden
the Governorate of Aden

The Aden Mutiny - 1967

When the Aden Protectorate was established in the 19th century, the British government had tried to band together the various Sheiks of the area before withdrawing from that area. The intention was that a united Arab force would protect Aden from the neighbouring countries of Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

To keep the Sheiks in line, the British Government raised the Aden Protectorate Levies - a small army made up of Arabs and commanded by British officers, mostly from the RAF regiment.

In 1958 President Nasser of Egypt formed the United Arab Republic with Syria and Yemen. The Imam of Yemen claimed that Aden belonged to Yemen and Nasser backed a Yemeni campaign of turning Arabs in the Protectorate against their Sheiks. The British countered this by convincing the Sheiks to form an alliance by joining together to form the South Arabian Federation which would govern Aden after the British had left. The British Government had set a date of January 1968 for their withdrawal from Aden.

The South Arabian Army (SAA) was formed when the Federal Army and the Federal Guard were combined. The SAA numbered about 15,000 troops with its own artillery, armour and engineers. It had been commanded by British officers up until 1967 but, as the British withdrawal from Aden drew closer, Arab officers gradually replaced the British officers.

Within the ranks of the SAA there were two distinct factions; the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY), made up of Aden townspeople, and the National Liberation Front (NLF), made up of Yemeni tribesmen from the hills. Both FLOSY and NLF were determined to get the British out of Aden so that their party could take over the governance of Aden.

During 1967 the British Government was not entirely sure where the SAA loyalties lay. In June of 1967 Nasser's Egyptian Army took a terrible beating from the Israeli Army during the Six Day War. This Arab defeat strained relations between the Arabs and the British in Aden because the Arabs thought that Britain, along with the United States, had aided Israel in the Six Day War. As events unfolded, it became clear that the United States had definitely aided Israel in that War.

The Aden Mutiny began on the night of the 19th of June 1967. Men of The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers were enjoying the film "The Battle of the Bulge" at the cinema when shots were heard. The Fusiliers immediately returned to their barracks at Waterloo Lines and deployed to guard the married quarters. Next morning Arab soldiers based at Lake Lines mutinied and burned down their barracks. The cause of the mutiny was the suspension of three Arab colonels and the persistent tribal rivalries within the SAA.
A three-ton truck containing men of 60 Squadron, was returning to Normandy Lines. These troops had just completed weapons training on the local ranges. As the lorry passed the SAA camp they came under heavy machine gun fire from the SAA troops. Eight of the Royal Corps of Transport were killed in this unprovoked attack. The SAA now directed their fire into Radfan Camp killing a British officer, 2nd Lieutenant Young of the 1st Battalion Lancashire Regiment. Two policemen and a public works employee were also killed.

'C' Company of the 1st Battalion King's Own Royal Border Regiment, under the command of Major David Miller, was ordered to put down the mutiny using minimum force. 'C' Company set off for Champion Lines accompanied by a troop of the Queens Dragoon Guards in support. As the first British truck entered Champion Lines it came under machine gun fire. One British soldier was killed and eight were wounded. The British NCOs ordered their troops to stay calm, even though they could see the bodies of British soldiers lying on the ground. Major Miller sent 10 Platoon to release the officers still hiding in the guardroom.

Davis had been unable to inform Major Moncur that he was under fire, because his radio operator had left the Pig with him and was most likely killed shortly after the firing started. Major Moncur was concerned about Davis's patrol, as he had not heard from them since they entered Crater. On hearing the shots and fearing that Davis was in trouble, Major Moncur and his escort, Sgt. Maj. Pete Hore, Fusilier Hoult and Fusilier John Story and two others, jumped into the Major's Land Rover and headed in to Crater up the Queen Arwa road. Major Bryan Malcolm, OC 'D' Company of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, along with Pte. Moores and Pte. Hunter followed close behind in another Land Rover. The two Land Rovers drove up the Queen Arwa road not realising they were driving into an ambush.

As the two Land Rovers drove past the Arab Police Barracks, the police opened fire with a well-planned cross fire. The Land Rovers pulled up and those men who had not already been hit leapt out to fire back. But there was no cover for them and the massacre was soon over. Only one British soldier managed to survive. Fusilier John Storey managed to race across the road to the cover of the flats opposite the Police Barracks without being hit. As he looked back he saw that all the others had been killed, apart from one soldier who was still firing at the Police. Fusilier Storey watched with horror as the last soldier was machine-gunned down. Later, Fusilier Storey was unable to identify this man.

By the end of that fateful day, 22 British soldiers lay dead and Crater was in the hands of an estimated 500-armed Arab terrorists and the Arab Police.

Design by IT-SERVE © 1999 - 2021 All Rights Reserved Back to Top