From my Father, the radio operator in the below mentioned text
ADEN, Crater Incident 20th June 1967.
A41 A type of radio in use for communications between troops
ADC Aide de Camp
C-in-C Commander in Chief
CID Criminal Investigation Department
CO Commanding Officer
FLOSY Front for the liberation of South Yemen
GOC General Officer Commanding
1 RNF 1st Battalion, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers
NLF National Liberation Front
Pig A lightly armoured truck
Saladin An armoured car
Saracen An armoured personnel carrier
SIB Special Investigation Branch
The day started at 06:30 hrs with an early breakfast,followed by the briefing from 2nd Lt Davis on our tasks for the day.Cpl Farrell and Cpl Bernard Jolly were tasked with the road blocks, one at Marine Drive the other at Main Pass.I was detailed to do foot patrol in Cpl Dixon's
section as the radio operator. We were too patrol through the crater and be picked up at Main Pass at 12:00 hrs.
The road blocks were too remain insitu until 10:30 hrs at which time personnel were too return to Waterloo Lines on 15 minute redeploymentnotice as and when needed. We left Waterloo Lines at approximately 07:30 hrs,Cpl Dixon's section was dropped off above the Chartered Bank onQueen Arwa Road.As we proceeded up Queen Arwa Road we turned left along Post Office Road making our way towards a collection of ramshackle hutsconstructed with local materials, known as the Kotchi Hut area.
This was a filthy squalid rancid place with very narrow alleys that could change on a daily basis due too people adding to the shacks theylived in.The only sanitation provided was a narrow slit where all human waste was deposited. At the ends of these alleys lay piles of rotten
decomposing rubbish, which were a favourite place too hide grenades and weapons.
As our foot patrol continued it became obvious the 3 day strike that had been called for was beign implemented, there were very few people tobe seen, some stocking up on bread from the bakery, and no moving traffic.The patrol was very quiet which from past experience provided a warningfor us too expect a grenade attack. As there were no Arabs in the vacinity this could only result in any casualties from a grenade attack beign British Soldiers. Our patrol had not previously come under this type of attack, we had, however, though rarely come under fire which tended to be when deployed in static positions.
Our section came under fire on three occasions,the first as we stumbled across a fire fight between the NLF and FLOSY which we managed to breakup capturing 7 weapons and arresting 11 people.The second incident on deployment too the police station,not the APB, in the Crater during the funeralof a star football player whom had been shot dead by a member of 1RNF, during which my 10 Foot aerial was shot down. A replacement was sent by helicopter which managed to miss the top of the police station dropping the aerial into the cemetery. I climbed down from the roof into the cemetery to retrieve the aerial in order for us too remain in contact with Major Moncur, Officer Commanding the Company and Company HQ, informing them of
the crowd size. From photographs taken at that time it was estimated that there were between five and seven thousand people there.The third and lastincident occured as we were deployed on roof tops of the Jewish quarters to prevent looting and arson, during which I shot down a speaker on the Mosqueas I was convinced the Imam was informing people of our deployment positions.
On 20th June my section were on their last patrol and very last deployment into the Crater. Whilst in the crater we had no radio contact withHQ or anyone else, this was not unusual though due too the effect the surrounding cliffs had on radios,especially affecting the one I operated,
which was not very good anyway, the A41.
As we exited the Kotchi hut area we carried out block section patrols, this involved us patrolling square sections through the streets. We would then double back on ourselves and patrol a different section, to ensure no one could identify where we had come from or anticipate where wewere going. This had been our standard practice whilst on deployment in the Crater unless instructed too carry out foot patrols in specificdesignated named locations. All officers and NCOs were equipped with their own maps of the Crater and we became very familiar with the simple
layout of the streets and market areas.
We approached Armed Police Barracks Road (APB) at approximately 11:30 hrs, Cpl Dixon,L/Cpl Kelly and I discussed how we were going to exit theCrater as we approached. We decided to proceed along APB Road, turn left up Queen Arwa Road and head up too Main Pass where we were too be picked up by 2nd/Lt Davis.There appeared too be nothing unusual or out of the ordinary as we passed the APB, with the exception of the lack of people and no
moving traffic.As we made our way to Main Pass the Company Commander's recce patrol passed us and waved, if they had been just looking for our patrol
they had ample opportunity to stop and speak to us, but they drove straight past. Within a minute we heard heavy firing coming from the Crater, we could tell it was closeby but were not aware of what had occurred at this stage. We proceeded at the double to the car park at the top of Main Passwhilst I continued trying too contact Company HQ to find out if they knew what was happening. I received no reply.
Upon reaching the car park 2nd/Lt Davis immediately ordered us too mount up and proceed into the Crater,Sgt Holiday advised 2nd/Lt Davis thatwe should wait until we heard from HQ before proceeding, during their arguement, which became quite heated, I recieved a radio message from Cpl Ken Coxon in the ops room.The message was,"DO NOT ENTER CRATER AND DO NOT GO TO APB, I say again,DO NOT ENTER CRATER AND DO NOT GO TO APB",.
I acknowledged his message and immediately informed 2nd/Lt Davis, 2nd/Lt Davis then asked for volunteers to go into the Crater and find out what hadhappened. We were still unaware at this time that Major Moncur's party had been ambushed.
2nd/Lt Davis ordered Sgt Holiday and Cpl Dixon to remain at Main Pass.I was ordered to leave the radio with Sgt Holiday, which I took off andplaced on the wall beside Sgt Holiday. The rest of the section were too get into the PIG and head down into the Crater. The members of the section in the PIG were 2nd/Lt Davis ,in the front passenger seat, myself, in the front hatch, L/Cpl Kelly, in the rear hatch, the driver and Fusiliers Steward,Crombie and Smyth. As we moved down Queen Arwa Road I could see and hear both Land Rovers of Major Moncur's party were under heavy fire.A uniformed policeman threw a petrol bomb at one of the Land Rovers and as we approached further I could see only one person returning fire, Major Moncur. Apart from fusilier Storey, who I could not see, the rest were either wounded or dead.
On seeing us coming the Arab Armed police concentrated their fire on us.It is impossible to explain how much fire we came under as there werebullets hitting the PIG on both sides some even managing too go through the hatches, miraculously without wounding either L/Cpl Kelly or myself,you could see the indentations left by the ricochet of the bullets on the inside of the PIG. 2nd/Lt Davis brought the vehicle too a halt and ordered three Fusiliers out the back. He instructed L/Cpl Kelly and me too move back up the road, giving them covering fire, and then wait for his signalto come back and pick him back up. Both L/Cpl Kelly and I were engaged in exchanging fire with the Armed Police providing the best cover we could too 2nd/Lt Davis and the men who were getting out of the PIG. How they managed to reach the doorway entrance of a flat without beign shot I do not know. Fusilier Crombie made his way down Queen Arwa Road towards Post Office Road, where I saw him get shot.
I was too busy giving covering fire too observe the exact position of the Land Rovers and the direction they were facing, but I can say therewas one less than 100 feet from where we had stopped, on the inside lane of the duel carriageway.
The driver of the PIG informed both myself and L/Cpl Kelly that he had no forward gears, he could only move in reverse and very slowly astyres had been shot out. After the driver managed to get the PIG a short distance up the road both L/cpl Kelly and I got out and gave coveringfire from the left hand side, which meant we were no longer sitting ducks. The driver told me and L/Cpl Kelly he would take a look under thevehicle too try and find out why he could not get any forward gears, which seemed too take him ages. At this point both L/Cpl Kelly and I were
running low on ammunition, we told the driver and he said he would get back inside and see if he could move the vehicle. L/Cpl Kelly and I decidedtoo take cover in the rocks just above the flats on Queen Arwa Road, but the armed police had obviously seen us move and pinned us down with heavyfire. We did not see the driver leave and did not have the opportunity to get back into the PIG. We only thought that the driver thought we musthave been shot.
Before we took cover among the rocks and where still in the PIG we had observed a helicopter fly over the Crater. We later heard that it hadbeen shot down,but it was only forty years later when I met the helicopter pilot Sgt Martin Forde at an event held by the Argyll and SutherlandHighlanders at Stirling Castle to mark the 40th anniversary of the Crater Incident that I learnt that the helicopter had not seen us.
While we were taking cover L/Cpl Kelly and I witnessed 2nd/Lt Davis exit the flats waving a flag of truce approaching the APB.He did not getvery far as he was met by a group of police who struck him on the head with a rifle butt, tied him too the back of the Land Rover and then drove down Queen Arwa Road dragging him behind them. Shortly afterwards we observed Fus Steward and Fus Smyth beign taken into the APB. The Armed Police had also picked up Fus Crombie and taken him into the APB, so I assumed rightly or wrongly that Fus Crombie had only been wounded at this time. I am convinced that Fus Steward,Fus Smyth and 2nd/Lt Davis had ran out of ammunition and could no longer defend themselves.This all took place between 12:20 and 13:00 hrs.
Once L/Cpl Kelly and I had moved into the rocks for cover it became obvious the Armed Police knew exactly where we were, as every time we attempted to move we came under heavy fire. We do not know why they didnt come for us and we now had only 3 rounds left between us.L/Cpl Kelly and I talked about what we should do and we both agreed it would be best too stay where we were until dark. Although we heard many exchanges of heavy fireduring the course of the afternoon we did not see 2nd/Lt Shaw, driven by Cpl Howie, or the Saracen, come through the Crater, if we had we may have taken the risk of attempting to get to the vehicles.
At about 18:00 hrs as it was getting dark L/Cpl Kelly and I decided too move across Queen Arwa Road towards the school, we made our way too the roof from where we could see the APB. We did this too try to find out what was happening rather than make our way too Main Pass as we were concerned we may have been accidently shot by our own men.
We watched the APB for a long time during which we observed the Armed Police firing at the hills above the flats on Queen Arwa Road and they themselves receiving fire, which we later found out was from members of Y company, in particular Lt David Riddick's platoon as he had by then taken over as Company commander. There were quiet periods when only one or two shots were exchanged interspersed with heavy exchanges of gunfire, by 20:00 hrs everything seemed too have quietened down. The armed police had possible lost interest in where we were, and they had definately not seen us move and they didnt come looking for us.
At about 20:45 a large group of armed police and people dressed in civillian clothing gathered at the gates inside the police barracks. It was then that we saw Fusiliers Les Steward,Paddy Smyth and Walter Crombie coming out of one of the offices.The crowd gathered around them.
L/Cpl Kelly and I looked at each other wondering what was happening. More people joined the crowd as the three Fusiliers were beign taken out of the gates,L/Cpl Kelly and I at this point thought they may be handed over too British troops and if so we should follow them at a safe distanceas this may provide us with an opportunity to leave the Crater. We could not have been more wrong as we were soon too witness.
After getting down from the roof of the school L/Cpl Kelly and I decided we would take a wide berth around the immediate vacinity, as thestreets were empty and pitch black. With hindsight we could have walked down the middle of the street as no one was about,but at the time we
felt the need for caution, moving as best we could we progressed ensuring no one saw us.This took a long time but we were well away from the crowd when it became clear to us that the Armed Police weren't taking the Fusiliers to be handed over too British troops as they were not heading
towards the Chartered Bank at the bottom of Queen Arwa Road, the most likely place for such a handover. L/Cpl Kelly and I realised they were heading further into the Crater, we later discovered they were heading towards the big open square in front of the fish market.
We made our way further out and positioned ourselves behind a wall where we could observe the market square. We had no idea what we wereabout to witness. As the crowd gathered around three bodies, tied too doors, were brought from within the fish market. What appeared too be a mocktrial then took place, though this was only from guess work on our behalf as both L/Cpl Kelly and I only spoke very little Arabic.It was totally insufficient too understand what was said but the crowd responded very noisily too what was said. This went on for 4 or 5 minutes and then it
became obvious to us what was happening, an Arab stepped forward and Major Moncur, Major Brian and CSM PM Hoare were executed. At the same timewe saw three of our other mates,Les,Paddy and Walter, beign brought out of the fish market.They recieved no mock trial instead one by one theywere tortured too death, one after the other too add too the horror of what was too come for them. The sights and sounds I will not go into, it was then L/Cpl Kelly and I made a pact that we would not be taken alive and decided we had better get away from where we were.
We headed out towards the Kotchi Hut area , moving very slowly we made our way out together too what we agreed was a safe distanceand stayed there until 03:00 hrs having both agreed this was the time we needed too get out of the Crater. We started to make our way to QueenArwa Road doing a big arch all the way around the back of the buildings. On reaching Queen Arwa Road we crossed it into the rocks above theflats and proceeded to make our way up to the Main Pass. We had decided not to go up the road but too cross the top of the rocks in order tooobserve Main Pass car park, If any British troops were in the immediate area that was the most likely place too be. We were suprised to find noone there at all, so we came down from the rocks continued from Main Pass headed towards Ma'Alla where we hijacked a taxi back too Waterloo Lines.
On arriving at Waterloo Lines we reported to the guard room, the reaction of the Corporal, who was guard commander was disbelief, we could not be there as we were both dead. L/cpl Kelly's reply was,"Does it look like we are both dead?", and he asked the Cpl to get the orderly
officer.On his arrival he chatted briefly too us then made a telephone call and proceeded too take us to see Lieutenant Colonel Blenkinsop, the battalions CO.There we were debriefed by both Lieutenant Colonel Blenkinsop and lieutenant Colonel Mitchell,CO of the Argyll & Sutherland
Highlanders.They decided our report needed to be brought to the attention of the C-in-C, Admiral Sir Michael Le Fanu,and the GOC, Major General Towers. We were then called before them both, the only other person present beign the C-in-C's ADC,and where instructed by the C-in-C to sign a document,prepared by the ADC,this stipulated that we could not pass on any of the information we knew regarding what had happened in the Crater.
After we signed this document we were taken back too Waterloo lines where we had breakfast, we returned too our company block and showeredaround midday.We were asked by S/Sgt Norman Ward wether we wanted to return and join the rest of the lads at Marine Drive on an ammunition run,we said we would.On arriving at Marine Drive we met Captain Marr and Sgt Holiday. Sgt Holiday put his arms around us and said how pleased he was
too see all of the rescue party had not ended up dead. This was very emotional for L/Cpl Kelly and I as Sgt Holiday was not aware of what we had witnesed, nor could we tell him as we had been sworn too secrecy.
At about 22:45 hrs it was decided that an attempt to recover the bodies in a 3 tonner lorry should be made. Fearing another ambush a Saladin covered a Saracen carrying several Fusiliers and 20 members from 1RNF accompanied the Saladin on foot, including myself and L/Cpl Kelly. A tow rope was attached too the lorry and positioned to recover the bodies, from which at a safe place they were unloaded and transferred to RAF Hospital Steamer Point. Lieutenant Colonels Blenkinsop and Mitchell formally identified the men there. 2nd/Lt Davis was recorded by RAF pathologists as having died from,"A blow too his head ".
Let me deal with how we felt at the time , as many have asked us what our emotions were on that day. They were fear,hatred towards the Arab Armed Police, whom we had previously worked closely with, and grief. Fear, ofcourse, because you are afraid, knowing that at any moment you couldend up dead, having too watch your friends go through what they had endured beign unable too assist them. Cold sweats, Tears streaming down your
face, which is not the same as when you weep, but the sorrow you feel remains with you forever. Every fibre in your body is tense on high alert, running on pure adrenaline with all your senses alerted, knowing that if you make a mistake it would probably cost you your life. You never feel
tired, because of the adrenaline. All of these emotions we felt created a bond between L/Cpl kelly and myself that lasted a lifetime.
Right up until Keith Kelly died four years ago the pact we made never too disclose what happened to our comrades remained in place. The relief we felt when we finally got back to Waterloo Lines and safety, the feelings of guilt, "Why not us?" and "Why them?". There is no logical
explanation for this, just the age old cliche, where and when i.e. we were in the right place at the right time and unfortunately our friends were not. Keith Kelly and I had many discussions when we returned too England on leave from Aden and concluded there was no logic to anything
that happened on that day, circumstances that we had no control over or were aware of, or the predicament we ended up in.The one last thing I will say on this is it helps a great deal when there are two of you left rather than just one, you can talk too one another knowing the other
fully understands and lives with the same emotions as yourself. This has remained with me throughout all of my life and for the first three yearsafter returning from Aden I would find myself in a very dark place indeed.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Hadi reported shortley after midnight that the bodies of the three Fusliers who were still missing had beendumped outside the Zakky coffee shop in Maidan Square. At about 7.15 am, the next day, 22 June, Inspector Abdulla Yafai retrieved them from a
lawless mob of men who had set them alight. They were also taken to Steamer Point where RAF pathologists were unable too determine causes of death. The identifications of the three Fusiliers was by process of elimination.
20th June 1967 is a black day in post-1945 British military history, but it has long been forgotten, as have most sacrifices made in Britishcounter-insurgency campaigns since 1945. More soldiers were killed that day than any day since the Korean War. In spite of the many police witnesses none of the perpetrators were ever held too account for the killings, I will never understand this. Some relatives, including Mavis Hoult, the wife of driver Fusilier George Thomas Hoult, having just given birth to a child never seen or held by her father, would never be able too visit the graves of their loved ones. While servicemen accept death or injury as a risk of the job few can accept mutilation of bodies.
Although the High Commisioner of Aden instructed the Chief Justice, Sir Richard Le Gallais,to carry out an enquiry which resulted in the reportby Sir Richard on the 5th of August 1967, there was neither the coroner's inquest or wider ranging investigations there would be today.Journalists
who wanted too interview soldiers upon their return to the UK were prevented from doing so by officials who said they were from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. L/Cpl Kelly and I could not say anything because of the document we had signed in Aden.
Conversation opened. 4
Displaying Aden Crater incident.txt.
Aden Crater incident.txt
apologies for the break in the text but for some reason I could not get the statement file too attach so copy pasted it for you