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leigh kitchen

"As The Sun Goes Down" - Aden, The SAA & Armed Police Mutinies of June 1967 (***RECOMMENDED)

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The Armed Police Mutiny

Rumours of a full scale attack on the SAA by British troops, "known" to be the allies of Israel, spread throughout Aden.

Apprehensive, fearing that the British would come for them, the 180 men of the Arab Armed Police in their barracks in Crater had armed them selves & taken to surrounding rooftops.

They'd heard the shooting & assumed that the British would be coming their way, looking for revenge.

They set up a Bren gun team on the roof of their barracks, fire positions on the roofs of the apartments opposite & behind the 10" high wall of the barracks, & waited.

At 11.00 hours they announced that they would shoot any British soldiers who appeared at the Armed Police Barracks because of the British intervention in the interfactional fighting amongst the SAA, but did?nt convey this intent to the British.

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Fusiliers & a QDG Saladin in Crater.

A grenade has just been thrown at the Fusiliers, causing casualties & is followed by sniper fire.

Edited by leigh kitchen

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?State Red? ? The Fusiliers Enter Crater

At 12.00 hrs 20/6/67 the whole of Aden was put on ?State Red?, & 1 RNF was ordered to hold in readiness at Marine Drive, ready to move into Crater.

?Y? Company were in position there by 12.10 hrs, & established Observation Posts.

Accompanying the Fusiliers were Major Bryan Malcolm, OC of ?D? Company, 1A & SH & 2 of his men, Pte ?Pocus? Hunter & Pte Johnny Moores.

Major Malcolm had requested & been granted permission from his CO, Lt. Colonel Mitchell to accompany the Fusiliers.

Mitchell refused another officer, Lt Baty MM, permission to go, thereby in all probability saving his life.

?Y? Company?s responsibilities during a ?State Red? included the setting up of a HQ at the Armed Police Barracks, something that had been done as a matter of course many times in the past, police providing facilities for their British allies.

The Company Commander, Major Moncur, ordered a platoon to carry out a vehicle reconnaissance of main routes. 2nd Lieutenant Davis, commanding an APC, a 1-ton Humber ?Pig?, entered Crater. During this patrol, the Fusiliers noted that barricades were being erected across roads, & as they drove towards the police barracks, which was on the Queen Arwa Road, they saw that buses had been placed as a roadblock. Pausing to clear a passage through, they continued on, past the barracks, where they noted the Bren Gun set up on the roof & other defensive positions manned. 2 shots were fired after them, & unable to report to his Company Commander due to a faulty radio, Davis made his way back towards Marine Drive via a circuitous route to avoid passing the barracks again.

Meanwhile:

12:50 hrs an unexploded grenade was reported to be in the area of Front Bay, Crater, but could not be located by the patrol tasked with dealing.

12:50 a Sioux helicopter was shot down as it was positioning an Observation Post (OP) on Temple Cliffs:

Sergeant, 1 RNF.

The Fusilier Brigade badge in anodised aluminium was in wear at this time rather than the RNF badge although the red over white feather hackle of RNF was still worn.

The following year, both items would be adopted by the newly formed Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, of which RNF formed the 1st Battalion on 23rd April 1968.

The gilding metal shoulder titles are unclear in this illustration - the design should be of a flamed grenade bearing a representation of St George & the dragon flanked the letters "N" & "F" & with a scroll "ROYAL" beneath.

The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, the old 5th of Foot, were brought onto the British establishment in 1688, being previously a "Holland Regiment", an Irish regiment raised in 1674 by Lord Claire for service in the Netherlands.

The hackle commemorates a victory dating back to 1778 when the Grenadier caps of the French enemy dead & prisoners were taken, their white plumes reputably dipped in the blood of the dead.

Edited by leigh kitchen

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The Loss of Helicopter "XT 173" and The Actions of Fusilier John Duffy D.C.M.

A helicopter attempting to land Fusiliers at an Observation Point on Temple Cliffs above Crater crashed down under heavy fire from the Armed Police, the pilot, Sgt Martin Forde of the QDG having sustained gunshot wounds to his right knee & being unable to control the rotor.

As he attempted to land, the rotor blades struck the sides of a ravine.

Forde managed to keep the aircraft upright as it descended, & dreading an ensuing fire when the helicopter struck down, frantically flicked off all switches & transmitted a "May Day" which was acknowledged.

Lance Corporal Keightley was being carried in a litter at the side of the helicopter, Fusilier Duffy was seated next to Forde in the aircraft & in the resulting crash Keightley lost a leg, the other being amputated later.

Under fire, Duffy rescued Keightley & Forde, who was still strapped into his seat, recovered a Self Loading Rifle (SLR) & an A41 man pack radio from the helicopter before it was completely destroyed, tended the wounded & called for assistance.

About 45 minutes later a Wessex helicopter arrived on scene & deployed Royal Marine Commandos to sort out the enemy snipers & rescue the 3 survivors

Duffy was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Photo: Lance Corporal Jim Keightley

Edited by leigh kitchen

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Lance Corporal Jim Keightley portrayed laying injured, & a recent photograph of him:

"A helicopter came to pick up two other lads and myself. Just as we were taking off all hell seemed to have broke loose down below.

Everybody was running around, when we got to battalion somebody shouted, 'Get back on and get back to the observation post.

I just lay down across the skids, which were wire baskets along the side of the helicopter.

I looked up to the pilot when there was a big bang by my head. A bullet had gone through the canopy of the helicopter and shot the pilot through the knee.

We were just about to land when somebody shot the rear rotor blade and, of course, at that point it went into a spin and we crashed into a gully.

Both my legs were hanging off below the knee and I could see the bone sticking out."

Edited by leigh kitchen

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Ambush and Massacre

Back at Crater, Major Moncur was already concerned for the patrols safety because of the lack of radio communication, now, upon hearing the shots fired at them as they were leaving the area of the Armed Police Barracks, he led a 2 vehicle Land Rover patrol comprised of nine Fusiliers & the three Argylls into Crater. They drove along the Queen Arwa road towards the sound of gunfire, not realising that they were about to be attacked by their allies, the Armed Police.

Queen Arwa Road

Edited by leigh kitchen

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The lead vehicle, Call Sign ?3/9? contained:

Major Moncur, Officer Commanding ?Y? Coy,

Major Malcolm, Officer Commanding ?D? Coy of the Argylls,

Company Sergeant Major Hoare, ?Y? Coy,

Fusilier Wiley, ?Y? Coy,

Fusilier Hoult, ?Y? Coy.

The second vehicle, Call Sign 5/5 contained:

Lance Corporal Liddle, ?W? Coy,

Fusilier Storey, ?W? Coy,

Private Hunter, Argylls,

Private Moores, Argylls.

Within minutes, only one of these men would still be alive - it is to be hoped that the others were all killed in the ensuing firefight rather than captured, given their subsequent treatment at the hands of the Armed Police & the mob.

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As the British drove towards the Armed Police Barracks, they slowed their vehicles to turn off the Queen Arwa Road dual carriageway into "AP Road", the sideroad leading to the gates of the Armed Police Barracks.

Without warning they were ambushed, subjected to heavy fire from the Bren Gun on the roof of the barracks, from the apartments on the oppsite side of Queen Arwa Rd & from over the wall of the barracks compound.

The lead vehicle, C/S 39, crashed into the wall of the barracks, the second, C/S 55, rammed a central island of the dual carriageway & its occupants rolled out into the road.

Caught in murderous crossfire, those soldiers still alive & able to debus did so & returned fire, but they were without cover.

Fusilier John Storey, aged 20 years, was in the back of C/S 55, & getting as low as he could in the gutter next to the central island saw his Company Commander, Major Moncur, still in the burning lead vehicle, returning fire at their assailants.

A short while later the Major was lying still, as was his Batman (Fusilier Wiley or Fusilier Hoult) who lay in the road, uniform on fire.

Shot in the back, then the ribs, then an arm, Storey hard targetted at speed on foot, zig-zagging to nearby flats opposite the barracks.

Other than Storey, the British were massacred (British families had until recently been housed in the flats opposite the barracks, the only married quarters located in Crater, despite increasing fears for their safety. They had, fortunately, eventually been relocated out of the area).

From the apartments Storey saw the last man in the street below returning fire until killed by machine gun fire. 4 of the bodies were burning, the firing died down & stopped but then started again.

Storey shot at 2 armed Arabs on the roof next to the one that he was on, one of them put his hands to his head & fell backwards as the other ran away.

Returning fire at the police from the top of the flats, Storey ran out of ammunition. His spare magazine was still in the vehicle that he'd been travelling in - Storey admitted that the British troops were'nt as alert as they would have been without their allies in the Armed Police Barracks between them & the parts of Crater where sniper fire & grenade throwing were normal occurences.

Still unaware of the role of the Armed Police in this ambush. Storey went downstairs & upon seeing a policeman armed with a rifle, called across the road to him, only to be fired at by this man.

Running upstairs he found an Arab man holding a baby in a 3rd floor doorway & he entered the flat, ordering screaming women & children to the back of the apartment whilst gathering the men at gun point in the room overlooking Queen Arwa Rd.

Hearing heavy machine gun fire & seeing the QDG's armoured vehicles racing past he thought that the Fusiliers would soon arrive in force.

Holding the occupants of the flat at gunpoint for some hours, Storey was warned by a local man that the building was being searched. Running downstairs, he hid in an alcove, then, pushing his empty rifle ahead of him, climbed out of a window onto a side road.

He attempted to escape but, suffering from an injured leg as well as other wounds, he was caught.

In danger of imminent execution, he was bound & placed in the back of a truck & driven into the barracks.

The Armed Police then drove the truck back out to Queen Arwa Rd & placed the dead Fusiliers & Argylls in the vehicle with him.

A crowd gathered, shouting for Storey to be killed. One man attempted to force him to say "Nasser tamman" - "Nasser is best", but Storey just stared into space. The police & the crowd shouted & argued, until a burst of fire scattered the mob & allowed the police to drive back into the barracks, thereby, Storey believed, saving his life.

Edited by leigh kitchen

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?After the battle? Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (REME) recover the remains of C/S 39 or C/S 55

The small photograph shows the remains of Major Moncur's Land Rover C/S 39.

Edited by leigh kitchen

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<b>“The Lost Patrol” </b>

Upon hearing this phase of shooting, Lt Davis volunteered to lead a patrol back into Crater to assist his Company Commander, & set off in a Pig, with support from 2 accompanying AFVs, a Saladin & a Ferret of the Queens Dragoon Guards.

Sergeant Benford of ‘A’ Squadron QDG led the way, with the Fusilier’s Pig following.

Arriving at the ambush site, they found the 2 Land Rovers on fire with 8 dead British troops in the road, & were themselves subjected to heavy fire from he police.

While the 2 AFVs returned fire, Lt Davis with Fusiliers Crombie, Smythe & Stewarts, all of “Y” Company, debussed & entered a nearby house (designated “Able Pink” on the British troops maps), apparently by climbing a drain pipe.

From this building they fired a General Purpose Machine Gun at the Barracks & at snipers at other locations, in the hope that could assist any survivors from Major Moncur’s party.

Davis had ordered the Pig & the AFVs to return to the Main Pass entrance & report on the situation, presumably because radio comms were again down, & they withdrew along Queen Arwa Road while Davis & his men provided covering fire.

Shortly after the 3 vehicles had pulled out back along Queen Arwa Road a Saladin of QDG advanced back up it towards the Barracks in order to lay down fire on it.

The vehicle commander, Lt Stephens requested permission via radio to use the vehicle’s main armament, a 76 mm gun, against the Barracks - he wanted to knock out the Bren Gun team sited on the roof but could not use the AFV’s main armament without permission from Aden Brigade HQ.

Permission was denied. Under heavy fire, able only to fire a machine gun, with the turret hatch damaged & unable to be closed, fearing imminent attack from RPGs, this vehicle withdrew without being able to recover Davis & his 3 men.

The fates of Davis, Crombie, Smythe & Stewarts were sealed, none of them were seen alive again.

They may have been captured alive but as with Major Moncur & his party it is to be hoped that they were not, as reports were received that the bodies of 3 of them were placed on mock trial, mutilated & hanged.

Fusiliers in a 1 - ton Humber Armoured Personnel Carrier - a "Pig".

The Humber "Pig" was built on the chassis of the FV1601 Humber 1 ton truck, its nickname deriving from its appearance - the bonnet resembling a pigs snout & the open side doors its ears.

From GMIC member Xsniper, a former Senior NCO & sniper in 1 RNF & 1 RRF:

"The Guy on the right is Cpl Terry Beal, he was shot in the Head on cliff top over looking Police Barracks after Y coy were ambushed, he made a full recovery and was kept on in the Bn as a non combatant to end his Twenty Two Years for his pension, great bloke and mate of mine he joined us every Year on the Remembrance Service & Reunion in Newcastle.

Sadly Terry died suddenly eighteen months ago ......"

Post no. 56 in this thread refers to the events of Wednesday 21st June 1967, the day that Cpl Beal was shot.

Edited by leigh kitchen

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Other incidents continued to happen within Crater:

13:15 hrs a handgrenade (British 36 Grenade) was thrown at a military vehicle in Main Pass Rd, no casualties.

14:00 hrs a 36 Grenade was thrown at an unknown target in Khormakser Rd, no casualties.

Poster advertising financial reward for 36 grenades handed in

Edited by leigh kitchen

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<b>"Armistice" Broken.</b>

During the day, the Fusiliers & QDG were to make a total of 3 attempts to advance on the barracks & to recover the bodies of their comrades, the first being that of Lt Davis's party & the QDG, but all failed due to extremely heavy, accurate fire, & each time permission to use heavy weaponry was denied by Brigade HQ.

(With reference to the amount of rescue attempts, GMIC member Xsniper states:

"There were loads of attempts doubt any one knows for sure exactly how many.

The amount of fire coming in was phenomenal, it was splintering the paint off the inside of our pigs and QDG Armoured Vehicles".)

More importantly, Fusilier Storey was recovered alive. After being returned to the barracks he had been in the care of an officer of the Armed Police, & given coffee & cigarettes, treated well.

At 14.00 hrs an armistice with the Armed Police was arranged, & a Troop of QDG under Lt Everitt re-entered Crater but coming under heavy fire eventually withdrew, Everitt & Trooper Dawes wounded & vehicles damaged, Everitt?s vehicle?s machine gun disabled & its gunsight destroyed.

16:00 hrs there was an explosion in Queen Arwa Rd, the cause & exact location not known.

QDG & Fusiliers patrol Crater:

Edited by leigh kitchen

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Another ?Armistice? Broken

At 16:00 hrs a further armistice with the Armed Police was arranged & an ambulance was allowed to go to the barracks in order collect & evacuate the casualties.

Fired on as it entered the barracks & as it drove away again towards Main Pass, it collected only the surviving Fusilier, Storey.

The remaining casualties, all dead, were still in the back of one of their 3 ton trucks, parked outside the barracks.

16:35 hrs automatic fire was directed at a roadblock at the Supreme Court, fire returned, no casualties.

16:40 hrs a grenade was thrown at a mobile patrol in Sheik Othman, no casualties

Main Pass & Marine Drive having been sealed by British road blocks all movement stopped, Main Pass Rd & Khormaksar Rd being subjected to sniper fire from the top of Main Pass & "overs" - unaimed shots from other areas.

Traffic was diverted along Ma'Alla Wharf Rd. From 18:30 ? 19:30 hrs heavy fire was directed at the Main Pass road block from hillsides & from Queen Arwa Rd with no casualties inflicted.

20:00 hrs 4 x mortar bombs & small arms fire were directed at Checkpoint Bravo from unidentified positions, no casualties.

The Armed Police were almost persuaded to take the truck containing the dead Fusiliers & Argylls out of Crater, but abandoned it part way on its journey, near a Roman Catholic school.

Edited by leigh kitchen

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Further Ambush

Between 20:45 & 22.00 hrs ?Y? Company, accompanied by the AFVs of Lt Everitt's Troop of QDG made a further attempt to recover the bodies but ran into an ambush.

Squadron Sergeant Major Pringle, commanding the Troop in the absence of the wounded Everitt was about 50 yards from the truck containing the bodies when his vehicle was attacked with a Blindicide anti-tank rocket fired from the Aban Mosque.

A second rocket struck his AFV & ricocheted off as the whole Troop came under heavy fire, & the QDG withdrew the attempt called off in order to avoid the inevitable heavy casualties should it be pressed.

Following this, 1 RNF was ordered not to enter Crater again under any circumstances

Edited by leigh kitchen

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Excerpts from an original document listing the 1 RNF & 1 A & SH casualties of 20th / 21st June & typed up whilst the Crater incident was still in progress.

Note Fusilier Storeys name is not included in the list of missing personnel as he had been recovered alive but wounded & so is listed under "Wounded".

Lance Corporal Thomas Liddle, Fusilier Walter Crombie, Fusilier George Hoult:

Edited by leigh kitchen

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Fusiliers and Argylls Denied Permission To Take Crater

The Commanding Officer of 1 RNF, Lt Colonel Dick Blenkinsopp together with Lt Colonel Colin Mitchell, CO of the relieving 1 A & SH had sought permission from Aden Brigade HQ for both battalions to go into Crater, subdue the Armed Police & other armed elements & bring the district back under control.

Going to Brigade HQ in person in order to put their case to re-enter Crater and recover their men, they were denied permission to do so.

Lt Col Blenkinsopp's expressions of frustration were less public than those of the angry Lt Col Mitchellhell, whose reaction to being ordered to stay out of Crater gave rise to a rumour that both of them had been temporarily relieved of their commands.

The only effective way of capturing the Armed Police Barracks would be by mounting a full scale Company attack with armoured support, which would inevitably result in very heavy casualties.

The troops on the ground could not appreciate the view of higher command that the situation had to be defused. There was risk of other local forces being drawn in, not just those in the area of Crater.

Mutinous units were in contact with other units, including SAA battalions up country & europeans, civilian & military, were in danger of being killed.

In addition, it was feared that the Federation would collapse.

At the end of the day the British military had suffered 22 fatalities & Crater was controlled by 500 armed Arabs in addition to the Armed Police.

Obviously within 1 RNF there was great anxiety concerning the state of the casualties & the fate of Lieutenant Davis & his 3 Fusiliers who had debussed into ?Able Pink?.

Excerpt from original 1 RNF document "Background To Present Situation" of 22nd June, produced after the bodies of the 12 x soldiers killed in the Armed Police ambush had been recovered.

It explains to the Fusiliers why they are not going to be allowed to take Crater.

Edited by leigh kitchen

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