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About amunastra

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  1. Hi Mandy,I didn't know J Collinson but there is a John Madderson on facebook that might have known him,he joined the Northumberland Fusiliers in 1964 so there is a chance he knows someone who knows him.The floods washed all the make shift homes off the sides of the hills.
  2. I spoke to Wiley just before he was killed ,we were mates and he was a nice guy. Our last words to each other were see you back in blighty.I was in Zulu company and I had just gone to get a coke cola from the machine. Wiley was in the back of the Landover, he was standing up through the hole in the wire mesh SLR in his hand, outside his company offices waiting for Major Moncur.Wiley also told me they had instructions from the CO that there not going to enter Crater.RIP Bernard Wiley.
  3. Thanks Leigh i shall check out all the sights.The cemetary i saw couldn't have been Silent Valley as the gravestones were not in any order,there were a few British graves and they were scatered about but i can't remember were i was at the time.I do remember Command Hill which no one ever seems to quote on.1 RNF had to guard it.The C.I.C.was Admiral Sir Michael Le Fan U (not sure how to spell his name). Then there was a General and an Air Vice Marshall.I remember the Admirals name, as i was approached by him when on duty at the front post.He asked me if i would like to be his body guard,as i was told not to speak and i hadn't long been there i didn't answer,although he asked me three times,my friend Pete Million was already assigned.The Admiral liked to go for walks in the hills unarmed.(The hills were full of caves and full of curiosity but i never ventured into them, there were so many barren places to walk).So Pete would carry a browning 9mm side arm to accompany him.I wish i had been more forthcoming as i would have liked to have had a try.I have fired a Browning 9mm many times and out of all the weapons i have fired when you have one strapped to your side it makes you feel very comfortable and powerful.If you were smart you were posted at the front under a shade with a Cpl on the opposite side lifting the barrier.On my very first shift no one told me to take a step forward before presenting arms,the Cpl shouted general salute present arms as the General came past in his car i threw my SLR bayonet fixed into the air straight into the roof of the shade,fumbling to get it under control i had to think quick so i threw up a salute and the general was in hysterics i presume he had seen the same thing many times.The Cpl was understanding as it was my first guard at the front and i always took one step forward after that.(Just remembering a funny moment from what was sometimes a very sad place).I can never remember Command Hill coming under attack.
  4. Z Company had to spend 3 weeks living in a tent encampment on the Yemen border.We flew up there in Beverly transport planes.We sat on wooden benches and the side door was open and i sat opposite it.When the plane banked going between hills i suppose it's the only time i ever felt air sick ,looking out of the door it was a strange feeling.The planes had black scorpions painted on them.When we got to the camp there was an Arab army tent encampment next door.The town was a few hundred yards away but clearly visable from our camp.We were allowed to go to the town on one condition and that was we had to sling our SLR's over our shoulders.It's the first time i have ever known or seen a British Soldier using his sling as it was never allowed.I wonder if anyone else has seen that.It was to show a sign of non aggression as the town was occupied by the most magnificently dressed and armed men.I took loads of photos but to my dissapointment the place i took them to be developed said there was only a couple that turned out and they were of scenery.It took me ages to caojole the locals to have their pictures taken.If you can picture this they had turbans then jackets fairly western looking then their traditonal skirts.Then over each shoulder would be bandoleers or some would have pouches.Then in there waist band was one or two curved daggers.Their bolt action rifle would also be slung over their shoulder.They looked amazing.We went out on patrol each night to set up ambushes.We would set up chain grenades 5 or 6 mills 36's in a line.We would split into two groups and occupy a hill on either side.We never caught anyone,they probably knew we were there but i'm not sure.I remember walking in the red hot desert and coming upon a little valley and it was like paradise water, trees, flowers and lush green grass.Then within a few minutes we were out of it and back to the sand.One night the town was attacked all hell broke loose as a local group had a beef with the leader in the town .We were told they rode in on horse back to shoot the place up but we couldn't see that as it was just a bit to far from us,there was bullets flying everywhere.There was only one causualty in the two camps and that was next door in the Arab army camp one of the soldiers was that busy watching the battle he fell down their water well and died.He came back to Kormaksar on my plane laying on a stretcher covered in a blanket.I saw his foot start twitching and told someone in authority but they didn't seem to bother i do hope he wasn't buried alive.I have never seen so many disabled people as i did in Crater but i suppose if they broke a leg or arm they had no one to set it for them and they were always begging on the streets.We were told that some parents break the childrens limbs so they could go on the streets to beg but i maybe it was just hearsay.
  5. I have read some reports that state that what started the unrest was that the Arabs thought the British had helped the Israelies in the 6 day war.I along with a small group of men entered Crater in the dead of night.We were given names and addresses and our orders were to extract the israelies that were living there and lead them to safety,which we did.I don't know how many small groups there were but i suspect that there would have been a small group for every area to do the same thing.The Arabs when they woke up in the morning would have realised this but i wouldn't have thought it would be enough to be the straw that broke the camels back or maybe it was.Wondered has anyone mentioned this before.
  6. Colonel Blinkensop was relieved of his command we were told on that day because he wanted to set up mortars and blast the hell out of Crater.They had set up such a firing position we would have been caught in crossfire,he called a Battalion meeting in the morning we assembled on the parade ground and he told us of the very grave situation.He sat us all down and thanked us for all we had done.When he heard of the massacre (and as i said before Z Coy were in the gym ready to come home)we were told he had been relieved and the Battalion temporarily stood down.I shall also say that Wyllie told me that Major Moncur had told him that they were not going to enter Crater but merley stay on the outskirts.So Major Moncur must shoulder some of the blame(i have always blamed him) unless his orders were changed after he spoke to Wyllie.Great isn't it he was my friend and i only knew him as Wyllie din't know his first name.I still see him standing in the back of the landrover head poking threw the hole in the wire mesh saying see you back in Blighty
  7. I wished my late parents had kept more of my letters as they are more accurate than my memory.I have a letter dated 8/6/67 and it reads i had another grenade thrown at me the other day it landed a couple of yards away nobody was injured and we caught the thrower.(If my memory serves me right the thrower was shot by my Sgt who had a wound in his right leg as i heard my Sgt shout waqif waqif followed by the distinctive sound of a sterling sub machine gun and as the thrower was brought past me i remember thinking that sterling cant be much good if thats all it does). thats two i have had in a couple of days.Our platoon was sent into Crater on our rest day as there was trouble.It was the same place as the big riots in February(I have sent Liegh pictures of where we were during those riots).About 3 o'clock 2 Arabs opened up with machine guns.Some of the bullets hit a roof to the left of me just like you see in the films.(I remeber being facinated by the sight but got a rollicking from my Cpl for standing up)strange but i wasn't scared of bullets but petrified of grenades.The whole platoon opened fire and we were told we had killed 5 terroists and injured 5.The platoon fired into a Mosque(i can never remember firing into a mosque myself but i know the lads did but i have it recorded in my letter which i have seen for the first time in 40 years) as thats where the gunman were,and yesterday morning the OP i was on had about 10 rounds fired at it but they went over our heads.We couldn't see where the gunmen were so we didn't return fire.13 days to go,(we used to count the days down to our return to Blighty in our letters.The sentences in brackets are from memory not in my letter.
  8. Thanks Leigh thats fantastic,it was very scarey i think that at 18 then in 67 you were to young to realise the danger,we were suppose to have 4 mags with 20 rounds in each but one day when i drew my ammo the mags only had about 20 rounds in between them,often wondered whether those last 6 lads to go in on the 20th June had a full compliment as they were never seen alive again and 6 x 80 should have been enough to take on a large crowd.
  9. Thanks very interesting and brought back many mermories thank you,one they didn't cover and it nearly cost the lives of my whole platoon was.To use up old ammo we had to go to the sea just outside the barracks and set up red flags about 200 yards apart.(i have sent Leigh a picture of the lads errecting a pole on the beach). Some of the ammo was dated 1942 which suprised me.Anyway my section went first and we fired hundreds of rounds into the sea.No targets just just fired widley,some of the lads said lets get the fishing boat as the locals would take out the nets and leave the boat just on shore.We moved the locals off and the sgt said if anyone fires at the boat they will suffer the consequences anyway our lads would turn every now and again and put a round through the boat to the dissatifaction of the locals.After we fired our rounds we sat back and put our rifles just like they did in the olden days leaning against each other so here you had 24 men sitting on the beach with rifles a little way away from us.The second section continued to fire into the sea.An Arab army truck decided to ignore the red flad and started to travel between us and the section firing, the lads at the flag were shouting to stop but they didn't so our sgt stood in front shouted you f.....g w... f.....g get back.Well someone in the Arab army truck understood English shouted out in Arabic and they cocked their weapons and pointed them at us.We looked at each other then our rifles which we wouldn't have reached .I thought this is it we have had it now.Then the Arab army officer who was sitting in the front shouted something and jested with his arms to lower their weapons .Which to our joy they did.Our sgt let them continue through but they never took their eyes off us as they travelled past.Just another example of heavy handedness from our Nco's which could have resulted in a massacre.He was doing it for their safety but maybe he should have used a more subtle approach. Not all fusiliers were that hot headed and a good job to.
  10. I have just found a letter i sent to my late parents dated 23/1/67 just put a couple of extracts to add to this,because of a lot of trouble coming from a certain alley way (our lads had been injured in the morning)the Royal engineers were building a wall to block off the alley way next to where i was standing So i suppose the terrorist was aiming at them and not me but he didn't have a very good aim.So it would have been around about 20th i think wondered if there was an incident report around that time regarding the Royal engineers building a wall and 1RNF covering them about an unexploded granade.
  11. I can confirm that some members of our Battalion were very rough on the Arabs and it was filmed so it goes down in history but there were a lot of guys especially the new arrivals who couldn't believe what we were seeing.Kicking cars and people ,rifle butting them and the worst of all in my opinion was when we came under fire someone would always shout fire at the Mosque.Which i'm glad to say i never did.They knew the Mosques would be full of people,we came under heavey fire one day and it's shown in End of the Empire a documentry.There was a lot of firing at the Mosques that day and i was told there were a lot of causuaties but i didn't get close to the Mosque afterwards to see for myself.A lot of the capturing of Arabs who were accused of terroist attacks were probably innocent.Not long before the Massacre of our lads i was on minute section 6 of us kitted and armed for 24 hours we were called out from our lads who were on top of the mountain looking into Crater watching for large gatherings they had spotted a large group of protesters so the six of us went straight in while the rest of the Battalion was to follow soonest.We got into crater in our long wheelbase landrover it just had a mettle netting over the top to stop granades coming in.Someone shouted granade we deployed from the landrover and hit the deck it wasn't a granade but a large rock.when i got up in front of me was about 600 protesters,i ran round the corner as the other five had to gather our thoughts.What do we do now someone said .Some bright spark the cpl said walk out and fix bayonets which we did we charged upto the crowd and they opened up and low and behold in the middle of them with a camera was the Captain i mentioned earlier we couldn't believe.It was a stupid move by us really as there were only 6 of us but luckily the crowd were just protesting and throwing rocks not terrorists.Our orders were to capture as many of the ringleaders as possible so we would pick out a couple and chase them as we chased them all the worlds press were there filming.Eliments of the Battalion started to arrive and fired tear gas into the crowd one of the press came up to me and another Fusilier(whos name escapes me but he was a cockney and he later became a Military Policeman so if he reads this he will know i'm talking about him)He with tears streaming down his face eyes as red as beetroots you haven't got a gas mask i can use have you.We both said at the same time get lost but a bit stronger language.It was then i did something that has haunted me ever since.Two fusiliers were standing at a doorway.I said whats the problem as they were shouting they said one of the ring leaders has gone in there,so i went in and got him, inside was a young man and a young lady holding a small baby i matched him out at bayonet point passed all the worlds press to a group of Fusiliers that were guarding the Arabs we had captured.I have often wondered what happened to him and his young wife,i think he was just protesting at our presence there i hope he was okay but i still have the picture in my mind of a young woman holding a tiny baby wondering what was happening to her husband.
  12. I spent some time on that observation post in Shiek Othman there was a football pitch behind it and i thought it was strange as i had never seen a football pitch of sand instead of grass.The Mosque in question was a very short distance from us.We had a search light just like the ones in used during w11 we would sleep on the roof as it was flat and every now and then we would switch on the search light and scan the area to check for movement but all we seemed to see was dogs roaming around then the Imam would start calling prayers very early in the morning 4 or 5 o'clock .I have never seen stars like the ones in Aden you would spend many nights out and because of the flat roofs you spent many hours looking at the stars there seem to be millions the sky was so clear.The front of the station was surrounded in sand bags and one Fusilier would be in there all the time with the rest of the section being on the roof.I spent my 18th birthday 6/12/66 guarding prisoners at a prison in the Sheik Othman district which apart from Crater was another scary place to be.I remember the O/C saying to cpl Clough on patrol tonight bring me someone back please but we went out and never encountered anyone.i could hear the prisoners crying and screaming all night .They brought this prisoner in one day and i had to guard him.He seemed a nice bloke i gave him my hot tea the Arabs were very friendly people if they were in a group usually in a circle drinking what i think was some sort of tea they would offer you some which they did to me one day i excepted and they got an old tin and poured it in i pretended to drink it and discretley tipped it away.I later found out that the guy i gave my tea to was accused of throwing a grenade at some women and children in the Kormaskar area but i never heard any more just the screams and crying.I was stationed in Waterloo Barracks and you could see the sea from my balcony we had air con and big fans whizzing round the centre of the room.The cockroaches were so big that when you stood on them they made a loud crack.You would have no lights around the shower room and inadvertently you would stand on quite a few at night which wasn't very pleasant.
  13. Main pass and Marine drive i spent many hours on road blocks searching cars and lorries but never found anything myself but i remember Taffy getting into position and he saw a packet of cigarettes picked it up and bang but it was only the detinator that went off his face was pot marked for weeks but he was very lucky.Because the streets were so narrow and the roofs flat it ws easy for the terrorist to just lay on the roof and lob a grenade over the top onto the patrol.Which hapened quite often many soldiers will say that their district was the hottest for terrorist activity but when you mentioned you had to patrol Crater especially the Bazzar area they would say rather you than my but the geordies always seemed to get the tough jobs probabley because they loved a scrap.We were called into the Bazzar area one day as some of our lads on patrol came under grenade attack and were injured.(When someone shouts grenade and you hit the deck the one place for some reason you don't want to get hit is you bum as happened to Tommy one ball as i mentioned in an earlier thread).The whole battalion was scrambled and i stood at the doors of a shop,across the road a Fusilier was on the rooftop opposite a bang rang out i dived into the shop knocking over all the crates of pop.When i looked up the guy on the roof was pointing into the alley way i thought he was pointing at wer the grenade had gone off but he was pointing to were the thrower was and the bang i heard was merley him firing but with the noise of the Bazzar it didn't sound like it.Everyone gathered around me and Sergeant Jakeman i think it was said we have sent for Jellybaby(they defused unexploded bombs and granades)why Jellybaby i don't know.As it happened the granade was thrown at me and it was laying next to the fallen crates of pop it was a Mills 36 and the terrorist hadn't cleaned all the wax off so it failed to go off.I was lucky again.The terrorist was captured and i was given the task of guarding him he was put in the back of Colonel Blenkinsops landrover and he said to me if he tries to escape shoot him,Never have i prayed so much for someone not to escape even though he targeted me. .
  14. When we knew our mates were trapped and dying we were so angry, although my company Zulu were in the gym with our suits on ready to go home.We drew thousands of rounds of ammo because Colonel Blinkinsop wanted to blast the hell out of everyone in Crater to go and rescue our lads.I had two bandoleers of 7.62 around me ready for the GPMG.But we heard he and our battalion was stood down because of the hatred we had,i can only presume the higher ranks thought they would have had a blood bath on thier hands.Geordies stick together and we were all itching to get in there and there would be a lot of dead people and it wouldn't have been us.So they gave the job to Mad Mitch.He and the Argylls did a good job.We got on the plane and before we took off a Captain came on(he was like a media person and i have another story about him to tell) he said we will get them all out as soon as we can,so everyone cheered but they bought them out in tea chests.All except Fusilier Story he was the only survivor.I was at my mate Wyllie's Funeral back in England some time later, although i think he is laid to rest in Aden i don't think they bought our lads home in those days.I visited a cemetary while i was there and there was a lot of fallen British lads buried there.So Mad Mitch got the glory and probably saved the name of our battalion as we would have gone in and probably shot everyone in sight but we will never know.Once a Fusilier always a Fusiler.
  15. I remember Duffy winning his DCM .To keep an eye on Crater we had to travel 5,000feet to the top of Samsham a mountain overlooking Crater. Two of us would lay either side in shallow baskets.Rifle in first then lay on top and you held on to the sides of the basket that were attached to a Sioux helicopter.You weren't strapped in so it was very scarey.I did it a few times and it never got any easier.Duffy was in the helicopter and it was shot down and he rescued the pilot made sure the other guy was okay then he got the radio and then the helicopter exploded.I asked him afterwards what went through his mind and he said nothing it just came together naturally.He was awarded the DCM for his gallantry.My platoon commander was Mr Kershaw he was a nice bloke and my sergeant was Dinger Bell but names are fading.My mate was Tommy shields and he ws a sergeant when i left.There were some good chaps Tommy one ball got wounded one night we were out on patrol the next minute a granade was thrown and i'm sure the base plug flew over my head somethink made a close whistling sound anyway.But Tommy got it up the top of his leg .As he went past me blood pouring from his wound he said the Ba.t..ds have got me.But a bit of rest and relaxation and he was fine.The five day riots ,i think it was February 67,was quite scary i was on checkpoint charlie i have some faded photos somewhere,if i can upload them i will.We had a couple of granades thrown at us but i can't remember any of my section getting hurt then.One of the lads thought he had been hit but he fell in the hot soup,as the Arabs had planned their attack when we were having our char delivered.Minute section was the most scariest of all my tour 6 of us would stay in a room fully clothed and armed for 24 hours.Any sign of trouble we were the first there.I have a story to tell about that as well.If any of the lads i can remember are following this link please say hi.Wilson 25 .Billy Mordue.Billy Bourton.Harrison.Tommy shields.Pete Millon.Gilespie.Cornelious Galvin.Jim Murray.There are more but my memory is fading as it was over 44 years ago.I shall post more on another day.Remember once a fusilier always a fusilier.One of my late wifes cousins was killed last year in Afgahnistan. Fusilier Shaun Bush.
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