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leigh kitchen, July 5, 2008 in Great Britain: Research, Documentation & History
23:08 hrs a shot was fired at Radfan Camp from Sheik Othman, no casualties.
23:50 hrs automatic fire was again aimed at the road block at the Supreme Court, with no casualties.
23:50 hrs an explosion was heard in Crater South, cause & location not known.
Under observation, exits guarded, Main Pass, Mansuri Ridge & Marine Drive occupied by ?Y? Company 1 RNF & ?X? Company, 45 Commando RM as defensive positions, there was no movement in or out of Crater overnight.
If It Moved It Did'nt Get Far....
"Not much said about the RCTs tour of duty,however they did a Bloody good job in resupplying us with Gerry Cans of water on the last few days when the siege of Crater was on.
My Platoon were tasked to the the high ground overlooking Crater and the APB [Armed Police Barracks] I had recently completed a GPMG Sustained Fire Roll course and had the Company's allocation of GPMGs - thousands of rounds rained down on Crater if it moved, it did not get very far ......
Army Helicopters kept us in Ammo but our saving grace with out a doubt was the Royal Corp of Transport ...... those lads kept us well supplied with water. Stuck on the open Crater Hill Top no cover or shade they did a Sterling job ...... no mean feat climbing that Bloody Crater wall in that heat time and time again all day and night non stop.
I offered them some water many times when they got to the top they refused every time stating thats for you and your lads Geordie we'll get some water when we get back to base .....
A job well done indeed thanks to the lads of the RCT from all Royal Northumberland Fusiliers"
"60 Sqn RCT, Normandy Lines carried out convoys two or three times a week upcountry into Habalane, encountering terrorist ambushes and transporting convoys to and from the Radfan.
...... Our company was ambushed returning from the ranges, we lost some good men.
Because of our company losing men, we was put on water duties, we carried jerry cans with water to supply the 45 marine commando's on top of the crater, this meant we carried the cans on our backs scaling the outside of the crater, then we would abseil down, you never hear of this do you?.
At one time Jack Saul went down we thought he had been shot, I strapped him to my back and abseiled him down to the bottom".
The Fusilier?s Last Casualty
Wednesday 21st June 1967
00:10 hrs on the 21st June, the road block at the Supreme Court was again subjected to automatic fire, with no casualties.
02:55 hrs the Main Pass road block in Crater came under small arms fire, no casualties.
About 06:00 hrs 2 LNs were believed to have been shot dead by troops on hillsides around Crater who were being subjected to spasmodic sniper fire from Sadahadin Rd
As Crater remained sealed off, intermittent small arms fire was directed at troops on High Mansuri Ridge & at road blocks. Fire was returned & an unknown number of LNs believed killed & wounded.
Hunter fighters carried out a number of dummy air strikes over Crater during the morning.
The Battalion suffered its last casualty on this date ? another member of ?Y? Company, Corporal Beal, struck above the right eye by a sniper?s round fired from Crater during a firefight.
He was evacuated by helicopter from High Mansuri Ridge at 08:00 hrs.
He survived his wound.
Hawker Hunter over Aden
The ?Old Turkish Fort? - Permission To Fire Heavy Weapon
Water supplies having been cut off, fires were started in the British Bank of the Middle East & in the Legislation Council Building (known to the British as the ?Leggo Building?), badly damaging both.
09:45 hrs a fire occurred in a warehouse in Al Savaee St,, Ma'Alla district, it was dealt with by the civil fire brigade.
10:00 hrs a F1 grenade was thrown over a wall into Ma'Alla Main, no casualties, the target was not known.
10:28 hrs a grenade was thrown at a double mobile patrol escorting a Public Works Department vehicle in Al Mansoura, Sheik Othman district. There were no casualties.
11:15 hrs a fire occurred in the Motor Transport Store of the Public Works Department yard in Ma'Alla, the store was gutted.
Containment of the situation in Crater had necessitated a limited attack by the Fusiliers & Commandos to take control of Main Pass & strategic peaks around the district, they?d stormed the heights above Main Pass & used ladders to scale the sheer cliffs in order to establish a line of piquet posts along the ridges of Mount Shamsan.
The Fusiliers & Royal Marines having blocked off the two main entrances to Crater, came under fire from the ?Old Turkish Fort? .
The Fort dominated Main Pass.
The most powerful weapons that the British were authorized to use were Heavy Machine Guns but the defenders of the Fort were holding out against these.
The firefight was suspended for an hour whilst permission was sought to use heavier weaponry.
One properly requested & authorized, and notably the only one authorized, 84 mm Carl Gustav anti-tank round was fired into the Fort.
Allegedly, the first round was a misfire, officers at scene decided it therefore didn?t count, & a second round was successfully fired into the Fort, which was then stormed & taken by Royal Marines of 45 Commando.
Several times crowds who had gathered near a hair pin bend on Crater Main Pass road to watch the action were dispersed.
A repost of a sketch map of Aden, for convenience - the Turkish Fort & Main Pass are shown at the top of the map, just left of centre
Journalists at Main Pass
The British held their positions under a continual, heavy small arms fire from Crater throughout the day & evening before the firing eventually died down.
13:50 hrs small arms fire was aimed at an unidentified target in Ma'Alla, no casualties.
14:05 hrs a F1 grenade was thrown into Ma'Alla Main at no known target.
14:30 hrs 7 x looters were arrested at Bath Warehouse, Ma'Alla.
Police used CS to disperse a small crowd at the junction of Store St / Al Savaee Rd, Ma'Alla.
An intimidator was shot & wounded after failing to halt when challenged in Ma'Alla district.
15:25 hrs small arms fire in Ma'Alla.
15:35 hrs there was more small arms fire in Ma'Alla, at Bazara House, no casualties
17:22 hrs 6 x pistol shots were fired at an unknown target in the area of Bataware House, no casualties.
19:00 hrs small arms fire was directed at a road block at the junction of Besse / Sinbad St & Admiralty Rd / Sinbad St
22:20 hrs 2 x shots were heard from behind the telephone exchange, Ma'Alla - thought to be police shooting at looters.
Aden Colony's Police Commissioner, Peter Owen, was in contact by telephone with the commander of the Armed Police in the barracks, Mohamed Ibrahim, urging return to normal duties & organising the return of the bodies via a British piquet on Marine Drive.
22:40 hrs the bodies of 9 of the Fusiliers & Argylls killed were removed from Crater in an Armed Police 3 ton truck to RAF Steamer Point.
The bodies of the other 3 men killed were still missing.
23:30 hrs 2 x shots were again heard from behind the telephone exchange, Ma'Alla, again, this was thought to be police shooting at looters.
View from a QDG vehicle under fire from Crater
The Remaining British Dead Recovered
Thursday 22nd June 1967
05:42 hrs another 2 x shots, thought to be fired by police at looters, were heard from behind the telephone exchange, Ma'Alla.
At 07:00 hrs the remaining 3 bodies of British soldiers killed in Crater were retrieved & evacuated from the district.
An account by RAF Nursing Attendant Cpl D. Slaven of a negotiated attempt to recover the bodies of the RNF & A & SH casualties & of the successful recovery of the survivor Fusiler Storey:
I was on duty at the Medical Centre at RAF Khormaskar when the alarm was raised on 20th June 1967. Prior to the call, during the morning, the airfield had been subjected to small arms fire from the direction of the Aden Police Barracks, Spent rounds could be heard falling around the swimming pool where I was taking a break. A tannoy broadcast announced that the airfield was under attack and I returned to duty. All that was known to me was that a major incident had occurred in Crater, involving British troops. I travelled in an RAF vehicle to Main Pass above Crater where I transferred to an army ambulance, with the on duty medical officer Flight Lieutenant Russell-Martin. Press personnel were present at the point of transfer, which gave an indication of the severity of the incident.
In the vehicle there was myself, Dr Russell-Martin, an army medic, anRAF policeman and the ambulance driver. We were escorted into Crater by vehicle with armed men on board with their weapons trained on the ambulance. Being in the back of the vehicle with the army medic, I could not make out what uniform, if any, the occupants of the escorting vehicle were wearing.
On the way in Dr Russell-Martin saw some armed men on rooftops and asked the policeman, who had a Sterling sub machine gun to “cover them”. The policeman refused and secreted the weapon either under his seat or the vehicle dashboard. If the weapon had been discovered by our escorts, I feel that the outcome of this journey would have been very different.
We were taken past the vehicles that had been ambushed which were still alight and smoking. We arrived at the Police barracks in Crater and pulled up next to two military trucks. The tail gate of the nearest truck to the ambulance was open and the bodies of the ambushed Northumberland Fusiliers could be seen. They were very bloody and appeared to have been mutilated.
Dr Russell-Martin was escorted into the barracks where he stayed for what6 seemed to be an interminably long time. During the time that he was inside the barracks, a crowd appeared running from one of the streets from the direction we entered. I alerted the armed police and they took action to disperse the crowd. At this late stage, I cannot recall if shots were indeed fired, but I do remember vividly that weapons were levelled at the crowd which dispersed quickly into the side streets.
Dr Russell-Martin attempted to negotiate the removal of the bodies, but was refused. We were escorted back out of Crater to Main Pass where I transferred back to the RAF vehicle. Trooper Story was taken to Steamer Point Hospital by the Army vehicle.
I am sorry but I cannot recall the names of the driver, the RAF policeman or the Army Medic.
For the record, my service details at the time I was in Aden were:-Q0682195 CPl. Donavon Slaven, Nursing Atandant, RAF Khoprmakser. Sept 1966-Sept 1967.
Crater ? NLF and FLOSY Cockpit
With tensions being heightened even further by Cairo Radio, various groups were jumping on the bandwagon. 215 prisoners had been released from the criminal jail next to the Armed Police Barracks and were on the loose. NLF & FLOSSY flags flew over Crater.
Beneath them the members of the 2 organisations were killing each other, as enthusiastically as they killed the British.
Fighting their savage little war in the back streets, might & the Armed Police were on the side of the NLF, although the first notable casualty was the NLF?s military commander in Crater, Abdul Bani Makrum Audhali, shot dead by one of the convicts freed when the mob broke open the criminal jail.
(A few nights later the NLF abducted the FLOSY chief of military operations, Fuad Khalifa, who was also the Mayor of Aden Municipality & senior executive of Aden Airways. His uncle had been the man who had thrown the grenade at the British High Commissioner as he boarded an aircraft at Khormakser Airport on 10/12/63).
Weapons were openly distributed & there were reports of 500 armed insurgents in the district
The Armed Police were still armed, mutinous, & occupying their barracks under its blue, listlessly hanging flag, leaving arson, looting & killing unchecked.
Loudspeakers at the Aidrus Mosque, a notorious nest of ?bombers? & snipers broadcast to Crater that its residents were now liberated from British colonialism, that the British would never be back & that other districts of Aden would soon be freed.
Crater after reoccupation.
"Keeping The Lid On"
It would have required a Brigade assault to retake Crater, an unacceptable option because of the enormous casualties such an operation would inflict on both combatent & innocent civilian.
Throughout the mutiny, the British had employed a rigorous policy of "minimum force" to avoid not just British but Adeni casualties both insurgent & innocent, for political reasons.
Part of the motive was "to keep the lid on" the situation while Britons around Aden could be warned & given time to extricate themselves to places of safety.
This policy, seen as appeasement by frustrated soldiery, emboldened the enemy who they were bridling to get stuck into.
As can be imagined, such restraint during & following the mutiny did not sit well with the British troops, the Fusiliers in particular, who were noted by a British journalist at the time to be "grimly angry".
All told, the British lost 22 men killed & 31 wounded on 20/6/67.
Having suffered 33 wounded prior to the mutiny, 1 RNF suffered 9 fatalities & 2 wounded all on that day, 20/6/67, with 1 more wounded the next.
The view of the Fusiliers was that the deaths of their comrades treacherously murdered & butchered, burned, dragged around behind vehicles, probably tortured by their erstwhile "allies" & the mob, required avenging & as soon as possible.
But policy was followed & the "lid" stayed on, British troops continuing to die for a cause already lost - fighting & dying in a dirty little war so that the British Government could retain military bases when Britain withdrew from Aden, this aim was ultimately abandoned in what some see as an unescessary & cowardly betrayal.
This photgraph shows the aftermath of a grenade attack.
GMIC member Xsniper states:
"Fus Davidge being attended by his comrade after being wounded by 36 mil grenade.
The Terrorist was shot and Killed, I am four ft away organising the recovery of the Terrorist body ......
Dave Davidge was later discharged on medical conditions".
The British Take Back The Initiative
Road blocks at Marine Drive & Main Pass, the main routes into Crater, continued to be regularly sniped at & the Observation Posts on the ridges that surrounded 3 sides of Crater were subjected to small arms & rocket attack.
?A? Squadron QDG was stationed at the Main Pass and Marine Drive entrances and at last authorized to fire their Saladin?s 76 mm main armament, engaged in sporadic exchanges of fire with snipers and machine-gunners.
A Saladin of the Queen?s Dragoon Guards about to move in to a fire position, Main Pass, Crater.
The emblem on the nearby wall is the crest of the 2nd Battalion South Wales Borderers, the old 24th Foot.
The crest is still in situ, the only British crest remaining, reputedly as it includes the sphinx, a creature of mythical powers.
The crest commemorates 2nd Bn's tours in Aden from 1892-1893 and from 1927-1929.
It was painted by Pioneer Sergeant Kelly under the direction of Captain (Quarter Master) J. Mellsop prior to the departure of the 2nd Battalion in January 1929.
Crater, & a Royal Marine sniper on the ridges overlooking.
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