Aden Insurgency - The Savage War In Yemen 1962-67

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  • Author:
    Jonathan Walker
    The events of 1962-67, sadly now remembered by few and at the time over-shadowed by the Cold War in Europe, were the culmination of 128 years of British involvement in Aden.

    "Acquired" in 1839 due to the strategic demands of the Empire, Aden itself comprised a mere 75 square miles; it's hinterland, however, was vast covering more than 112,000 square miles. Situated at the southern end of the Red Sea and with a safe harbour, it was originally intended to be a coaling station for ships sailing to and from India. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 only added to it's prosperity and strategic importance.

    Jonathan Walker's meticulous research has made excellent use of recently released archive material and eye-witness accounts as well as earlier historical records. To understand the last few years when British forces were fighting terrorists in the back streets of Aden and the mountains and deserts of it's hinterland and the final bloody withdrawal from Britain's last colonial war, the author gives a detailed explanation of both the historical and contemporary context.

    Initially, by signing up whoever appeared to be the leader of the main tribe in an area, using guns or gold as an inducement, a series of "Protective Treaties" was established which brought some sense of order to the hinterlands whilst appearing to leave power in local hands. This was the Empire building formula that had worked so well in other parts of the world and Yemen was to be no different. Apart from a minor "blip" following the First World War, when due to the financial strain of supporting the wider area the British government considered giving up all but Aden and it's immediate hinterland, it was not until the end of the Second World War that matters came to a head.

    The Cold War, Britain's shrinking Empire and the rise of Arab Nationalism (especially in Egypt), plus the designs of America and the Communist Bloc on the oil-rich Middle East coupled with Britain's dire financial situation were all significant factors contributing to the withdrawal from the remains of the Empire and East of Suez in particular. The inept handling of the withdrawal by the then Labour government further compromised Britain's position. The announcement of the imminent withdrawal made every Briton a target for terrorist factions anxious to enhance their credentials and secure a seat at the table in the post colonial era.

    Given the events of today with the rapidly deteriorating situation in Yemen as well as the past few years of conflict in the Middle East, there is a certain sense of irony. Aden presented the British Army with a formidable challenge, expecting to fight on the plains of Western Europe, it's men, equipment and tactics were tested in some of the harshest environments on the planet.

    Likewise, British political leadership has also been put to the test and generally found to be wanting. As ever it has been the "PBI" that has paid the price whilst our erstwhile leaders failed to learn their lessons from history.

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  1. ladyp
    Thank you for taking time to read the brief description of my story .what site do you think I should try and promote it on ? We're you part of the aden conflict? Again thank you pauline.
    1. foxtrot40
      Pauline,
      I would post it under the Military History forum. It would need a brief outline of the contents plus maybe a little bit about yourself and your reasons for writing about your experiences. Have you published it privately or do you have a publisher? You could send a copy to Andy -Auld Yin- with a view to it being reviewed on Arrse.
      foxtrot40, Oct 5, 2015
    2. foxtrot40
      Pauline,
      Sorry forgot to say, no I did not serve in Aden, or anywhere else come to that. Am merely a ex-fireman with an interest in our military heritage.
      Rolf.
      foxtrot40, Oct 5, 2015
  2. ladyp
    After reading all the rumours! How about the truth! I was an army girl, who served in the aden emergency from August 1966 to November 1967.I was a telephonist and was privalidged to be able to listen in on conversations between all the top brass. Including LTCOL Colin Mitchell effectionatly know in Aden as mad " MITCH " he was the brigadier of the argyll and southernhighlanders.

    As a serving army personal we also undertook all of the same training as the men including how to shoot a automatic gun and riffle. Although we were were telephonists we carried out duties required of the men.this included check Point duties and female searches along with village searches with the men.

    I have know wrote a book titled " Army girl the untold truth" in my book you will read my version of the truth! This book is both humourus and tragic how the government of the day lied about the events of the emergency
    1. foxtrot40
      LP,
      You should post this on the website.I am sure there will be a great deal of interest and it may well encourage a few more like yourself to recount their tales and even write their own accounts. Whether humourous or tragic it's always good to know the true state of affairs.
      Regards,
      Rolf.
      foxtrot40, Oct 4, 2015