SGM Herb Friedman (Ret.)

Aden 1966 - Cordon and Search operation by 3 R Anglian on a sector of the Sheikh Othman soukh (market).
Private Nichols on his vehicle participating in the cordon

(Photograph courtesy of Brian Harrington Spier)

When the Aden Protectorate was established in the 19th century, the British government tried to band together the various Sheiks before withdrawing from that area. It was hoped that a united Arab force would protect Aden from the neighboring countries of Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The Aden Protectorate Levies was formed; a small army of Arabs under British Officers mostly from the RAF Regiment and well equipped with Ferret armored cars brought the British and the local Sultans into closer alliance.

A Ferret scout car in Aden. Lt. Chris Pollock is in the turret
(Photograph courtesy of Mick Allen)

A Saracen Armored Personnel Carrier

The Ferret Mark II Scout Car was equipped with a .300 Browning Machine-gun. It was very sturdy in both urban and mountainous terrain and could destroy a terrorist’s car when used as a ram. The British also used the Saracen Armored Personnel Carrier to take troops into riots and pitched battles, allowing their troops to be protected by armor until such time as they arrived at the scene of conflict. The Saracen could carry ten armed troops and was equipped with a Browning .30 machine-gun. The top speed was 45 mph, and it was powered by Rolls Royce engine. Many were upgraded with additions of armor for extra protection. Its ability to remain operational after any two of its six wheels were blown off proved invaluable on many occasions.


Modern day map of Yemen showing the Gulf of Aden

The British also used psychological warfare and modern aircraft to control the tribesmen. They called this “Air Power Policing” (APL).  If a village or a Sultan caused any trouble, leaflets were dropped from aircraft warning them they would be bombed. Reginald Lingham mentions this operation in One Soldier’s Wars. 

If a village or a Sultan caused any trouble, leaflets were dropped, from aircraft warning them they would be bombed and at what time, if they didn’t hand in hostages to prove their good behavior in the future.  If this instruction was not complied with, they were bombed.  They were ordered to move everybody plus their livestock out of the village, and at the precise time the village would be bombed into oblivion.  This was found to be an excellent, fast, cheap, and cost-effective way of controlling many people spread out over a large almost inaccessible area of land.

Peter Hinchcliffe tells a similar story in Without Glory in Arabia – the British Retreat from Aden, I. B. Tauris, London, 2006.

There was a bomb outrage in one of the restaurants in Steamer Point frequented by HM’s forces. The intelligence guys got onto this and found out who was responsible…he had a magnificent house, a few hundred yards north of the town itself, kind of a manor house, it really was rather splendid. And so, one afternoon, leaflets were dropped on it by the Venoms warning everybody to leave the house by tomorrow morning because it was going to be knocked down. The first aircraft was there about 0700 and we kept firing rockets at this house until about lunchtime, with the idea of reducing it to about knee-high.

Time gives an example of such an operation in an article entitled “The Big Show.”

Arab guerrillas who ambushed and killed two British soldiers were reported to be in the village of Danaba, a border hamlet of mud and stone huts. Danaba was warned by leaflet that it would be bombed. Promised the R.A.F. officer commanding the operation: “The fearsome sight will frighten the Arabs . . . a terrific explosion will echo up the hills. The tribesmen will be somewhere watching the show.”

On Feb. 11 four Shackleton bombers dropped 93 500-lb. bombs on Danaba, and Venom fighter pilots followed up, pouring 72 rockets into the village; for best effect the operation was spaced over six hours.

An earlier action was mentioned in the Daily Telegraph:

Nearly two hours before today’s bombing R.A.F. aircraft dropped leaflets on the village of Ruqaba, which is within Aden territory, warning the inhabitants to leave…Before the village was destroyed an R.A.F. reconnaissance aircraft flew over the area to observe the exodus before the bombing began.

Up country in Aden
(Photograph courtesy of Mick Allen)

Jonathan Walker mentions the bombing coercion in Aden Insurgency: The Savage War in South Arabia 1962-67, Spellmount Ltd., Staplehurst, UK, 2005. The author quotes Captain R.A.B. Hamilton of No. 8 Squadron:

The Air Staff would work in the closest contact with the political officer. It was my task, equipped with a portable wireless set, to camp as close to the scene of operations as I considered possible, so as to facilitate the surrender of the tribe and to reduce the extent of the operations to a minimum, Two, and one-day warnings were dropped on the tribe, followed by an hour’s warning before the first attack, so that women and children could be taken to a place of safety and every effort was made to inflict losses to property rather than lives.

The concept of “proscription” bombing meant that once the leaflets had been dropped, all humans and livestock were legitimate targets within the proscribed area, but care was taken to exclude women and children.

Walker discusses the Arab concept of "face":

Another important element of tribal attitudes was the value of “face,” for to lose a fight to a humbler or inferior combatant was the greatest humiliation for a warrior. Worse still, a tribesman’s womenfolk might pour scorn on him. Honor was the key concept. Therefore, to be defeated by the RAF bombing sorties was no disgrace as they were considered an enemy whose firepower was unassailable.

Another British official explains how this dropping of leaflets could be beneficial to both sides:

A routine air operation involved the dropping of leaflets on dissident figures that had “cut the road” or had attacked government forces. The rebel was asked to surrender hostages by a certain time as an indication of future good behavior. If he did not do this, further leaflets were dropped giving him a deadline and urging the inhabitants of the area to vacate their houses. If this was ignored a Shackleton bomber would drop a 1000-pound bomb (or a Hunter would use its rockets) on the rebel leader's house. Generally, with honor satisfied (Bowing to overwhelming force) the rebel would make his peace with the government and might later receive compensation for his house enabling him to build a much bigger one. It was a game, and generally a bloodless one. When the rebels became politically motivated, better armed and trained these tactics became outmoded and ineffectual. Also, UN interest made bombing politically hazardous. “Flag waving” or buzzing the area with low flying fighter aircraft was a psychological gambit and demonstrated that Big Brother was watching you.

Apparently, it wasn’t only 1000-pound bombs that were dropped:

General actions of the RAF during the Radfan emergency included leafleting an area and telling the locals to clear out with twelve hours warning. If they refused to move the Hunters would go in after the leaflet raids, rocketing the odd house. The Shackletons would keep the Radfans on the move by going in at night and dropping 25-pound practice bombs on any fire they saw, keeping the Radfans from having cooked meals and making life miserable for them.

Julian Paget tells a similar story in Last Post Aden 1964-1967, Faber and Faber, London, 1969. Yemen was sending aircraft and bombing some towns under British protection:

This was a defiance that clearly could not be tolerated, and it was decided that some deliberate retaliatory action must be taken…The Yemini fort of Harib, just inside the Yemen, was picked as a suitable target…First, leaflets were dropped, warning the occupants to leave, and the fort was attacked fifteen minutes later by eight RAF Hunters with bombs and rockets.

Lingham tells of another operation where the British tried to set the two terrorist organizations against one another by attacking one and blaming the other. He prepared to attack the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY) HQ and blame the National Liberation Front (NLF):

He had the intelligence support unit to produce leaflets in Arabic, blaming the FLOSY for the dastardly attack on the NLF at Tawahi against innocent women and children and called on all true Arabs to support the NLF in their fight against this danger from within. To show the people their strength and determination it had been the NLF who had blown up the FLOSY HQ that night.

JK positioned his crew in such a way as to ensure a safe withdrawal route and commissioned four groups to distribute leaflets by throwing them from the roofs of houses en route to the target, and in Sheik Othman Township.

Arab activity was stirred up into a hornet’s nest within twenty minutes of the big bang, by this time they were all reading the leaflets and calling on Allah to punish the NLF infidels, they were soon in a frenzy performing self-flagellation and other forms of mass Arab self-torture in the mass hysteria to take revenge on the perpetrates of this heinous crime.

A British Army convoy in Aden
(Photograph courtesy of Stan Green)

The British performed other missions with the local people that really were psychological operations although they are seldom called by that name. In Vietnam at about the same time, the Americans were performing Medical Civic Action Programs (MEDCAPS) and Dental Civic Action Programs (DENCAPS). This was a way to win the hearts and minds of the people. Hinchcliffe mentions such a British project:

We made sure that the only water resource we controlled was shared with the locals. We also treated the sick (mostly children with the measles) over a wide area around us by sending out RAF medicals NCOs…So successful was this that the mortar attacks and sniping which plagued us when we first arrived stopped completely after a month or two. A Rabizi chief contacted me personally in my HQ one night and told me that my men could “walk in peace over their land and that our enemies would be theirs.”

There were other similarities to Vietnam. Just as many Americans called the Vietnamese “Gooks” or “Slopes,” some British troops called the local natives “Wogs” or after being expressly forbidden to use that word, “Gollies.” This was counterproductive but very difficult to stop. Also, just as the Americans eventually called the doomed concept of handing power over to the locals “Vietnamization,” we find the British using the word “Arabisation.”

In 1958, President Nasser of Egypt formed the United Arab Republic with Syria and Yemen. The Imam of Yemen claimed that Aden belonged to Yemen and Nasser backed a Yemeni campaign of fostering an Arab insurgency against their Sheiks. The British retaliated by convincing the Sheiks to form an alliance, the South Arabian Federation, which would govern Aden after the British left. The British Government promised to withdraw from Aden by January 1968, but intended to leave a small British force in the area for security purposes.

Map of Aden
(Courtesy of Mick Allen)

Aden became self-governing in 1962, and joined the Federation of South Arabia (FSA) in 1963. The South Arabian Army (SAA) was formed when the Federal Army and the Federal Guard were combined. The SAA numbered about 15,000 troops with its own artillery, armor and engineers. It was commanded by British officers until 1967 but, as the British withdrawal from Aden drew closer, Arab officers gradually replaced the British officers.

Within the ranks of the SAA there were two distinct factions. The first was the People’s Socialist Party (PSP), later turned into the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY), made up of Aden townspeople, with the goal of a Socialist Republic. The second was the National Liberation Front (NLF), made up of Yemeni tribesmen from the hills. Both FLOSY and NLF were determined to get the British out of Aden so that their party could take over the governance of Aden. The battle lines were drawn.

Aden's ancient, natural harbor lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a low isthmus. Aden now has a population of about 590,000. Aden consists of many small towns: Crater, the original port city, the industrial city known as Little Aden with its large oil refinery, and Madinat ash-sha’b, the center of government. Two suburbs, Khormaksar and Sheikh Othman, lie north of Crater, the old city, with the international airport situated between them.

British Aden was made up two parts. The first part was the Aden Colony which consisted of 70 square miles situated along the coast of the Red Sea. Within this area was the port of Aden, the airfield called RAF Khormaksar, the BP oil refinery, the town of Little Aden and the Crater district, which housed seven hundred thousand Arabs. All these areas were located around a natural deep-water harbor which had been created by an extinct volcano. During the 1950s Aden became the busiest port in the world besides New York. The second part of British Aden was called the Aden Protectorate. This area was about the size of England and was split into two parts, the Eastern and the Western Protectorates. These Protectorates were crossed by two major roads. One road headed towards the British base at Dhala on the Yemen border while the other road ran into Yemen. The Dhala road was fiercely contested between local warring Arabs, British troops, and the National Liberation Front (NLF) who used the road to smuggle arms into Aden.

The Aden Emergency was an insurgency against British crown forces in what is now the Yemen. It lasted from 10 December 1963 when a “State of Emergency” was declared until 30 November 1967 when British forces left. The emergency began when members of the National Liberation Front (NLF) carried out a grenade attack against the British High Commission. This attack killed one person, injured fifty, and caused the British Government to declare a "state of emergency".

Sir Leslie Charles Glass

Sir Leslie Charles Glass was an Army officer in the Psychological Warfare Division in South East Asia in the Second World War, Director-General of Information in Cyprus during the Emergency and later Chairman of the Counter Subversion Committee. He said in a lecture to the National Defense College on 14 March 1973 to an audience cleared for Top Secret:

A recent example of the use of propaganda in support of military operations is Aden from 1963-1967. I must first emphasize that the nearer any colony is to independence and the more power the local indigenous leaders have under the constitution the more difficult it is from the British to control the local propaganda. In Cyprus I was working for a Governor and Commander in Chief who had total command. In Aden, the Governor had several indigenous political leaders, and in the Federation covering the hinterland he had to deal with the local Arab Federal Government. It was only towards the end, that direct rule was introduced. Again, the key to our propaganda operations was the seconding to the Colonial Governor of an expert from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). He was attached to the Governor as Information Adviser and he had to use his influence in directing and coordinating Aden radio and television and the Government Information Services, including handling of foreign press from the background. As things got worse his influence more and more dominated the various channels. He not only had direct contact with the Governor but with the military Commander in Chief and access to all intelligence. Under the direction of the Governor, and with the Commander in Chief’s agreement, this was transmitted also through him to the Army Public Relations staff.

Aerial Photo of Petroleum Refinery
Photograph courtesy of Michael R. Lavery

The military aerial photograph above depicts the British Petroleum refinery in Aden. Note that certain areas have been "hatched" and the comment "Out of Bounds" added to the photo. This shows that the refinery was considered a terrorist target and would be regularly patrolled by British forces to limit the ability of the insurgents to attack

Sergeant Bob Bogan’s Personal Military Map

Sergeant Bogan carried this map of the northern Area of Aden all through his tour. Note the various personal comments on the map. Bogan told me:

The squad had to get to know all the town’s “kutcha” hot areas very quickly. It was important that we knew every street, alley, and sewer drain just as well as the Arab terrorists. We gave strategic places code names. If I assigned two men using the codes, they knew their ambush position was a camel tree that overlooked “grenade corner.” It prevented errors with grid references, and we all knew where everyone was at what routes they would use.

In January 1964, the British moved into the Radfan hills in the border region to confront Egyptian-backed guerrillas, later reinforced by the NLF. This operation was code-named “Nutcracker.” In April, a second operation called “Cap Badge” had the overall political objective of reasserting Federal Authority and making the Dhala Road safe for traffic. By October the insurgents had largely been suppressed, and the NLF switched to grenade attacks against off-duty military personnel and police officers elsewhere in the Aden Colony.

Richard Haselip cleaning his Bren Gun (far left)

Richard Haselip was based at the Radfan Camp from May 1965 to November 1965 as one of the 150 Territorial Army Reserves from the Home Counties serving with the Royal Sussex Regiment. He was rather proud that the Reserves were deployed there and that they were the first Reservists to be called up for a term of duty in 1965 since the Privy Council did so in 1939 for action in WWII. Among his mementos are many issued documents such as “Arabic Phrases” and the actions to be taken if under threat (What the Americans call “Rules of Engagement”). We depict two of his items below.

We Very Much Regret…

This printed form was handed to an individual when he was stopped and checked for weapons or contraband:

We very much regret the inconvenience caused to you by this check. Unfortunately, it is made necessary by the existence of terrorism in Aden State which it is the duty of all of us to stop.

Rules of Engagement card, green version from July 1965.

Along with the military operations the British regularly ran some low-key propaganda campaigns, though they seem to have never got serious about the craft. They had an Information Department producing mild white propaganda in Aden since 1920. In 1948 they formed an Information Research Department (IRD), mostly aimed at Communist aggression in the area. In 1962 the IRD operated from offices in London with over 400 agents headed by Christopher Barclay. The IRD wrote articles promoting the success of British-sponsored agricultural projects such as growing cotton in Aden to make the nation self-supporting. They spent about 2.5 million pounds on education, health, and irrigation campaigns to win the hearts and minds of the people of Aden. The government also produced radio and TV shows.

There was an Aden Public Relations Department, but it was staffed entirely by Arabs and it was not always completely behind British policy. A British censorship panel was authorized to “cut out all subversive propaganda items from film reels.” The British clandestinely funded the Arab News Agency and used it as a conduit for their own propaganda. The Aden Intelligence Center was formed with about thirty intelligence officers to watch everything going on in the area. Regardless, the people still seemed to gradually shift toward independence.

In July 1964 Harold Macmillan set 1968 as the year for the Federation’s self-government. This statement encouraged the rebels to try and accelerate the nationalist cause to force Britain out by military force. Yemeni, Egyptian, Aden nationalists, and paid mercenaries continued bringing weapons, mines, explosives and grenades across the border for guerrilla warfare. At first these were mainly British equipment that we had left behind when the United Kingdom evacuated the Canal Zone of Egypt in late 1955. Later, as more Aden terrorists received Marxist guerrilla training by the Soviets and Chinese, high tech Soviet weaponry began to appear on the scene.

Ian F. W. Beckett says in Insurgency in Iraq: A Historical Assessment that the announcement of the British withdrawal doomed any chance of victory by the government against the insurgents.

Aden was a failure for the British but largely because of the premature announcement by the Labor government in 1966 of its intention to leave South Arabia, undermining at a stroke the authorities of the Federation of South Arabia and the whole counterinsurgency effort. Increasingly, indeed, federal officials and even local governments in the emirates, sultanates, and sheikhdoms either left the country altogether or threw in their lot with the insurgent movements. In any case, intelligence had never been forthcoming freely from the population, and there was now little incentive to cooperate. Arab members of the Special Branch already had been targeted by the insurgents, and the local police forces were thoroughly infiltrated, both the South Arabian Police and Aden Armed Police…

The RAF Squadron 8 was often called upon to drop leaflets on Aden. They mention the worsening situation in their combat history:

November 1964 saw operations by terrorists transfer to Aden itself.  A terrorist organization, the NLF, made several grenade attacks at the time of the visit of the Colonial Secretary, Mr. Greenwood.  In these attacks, several servicemen were killed or injured when explosive devices were hurled into restaurants and bars.  As a result of this, all bars and places of entertainment were placed out of bounds to all service personnel.  December saw more bomb outrages in Aden and further casualties amongst service personnel and civilians alike.

The Federal government asked for more British military aid and was supplied with a mixed force of ground and air troops. The “rules of engagement” forbid them to bomb or attack areas containing women and children, so instead, they dropped leaflets warning the local nationals to move out of harm’s way. They were authorized to retaliate with force if British troops came under fire.


An “Arabic Phrases” card

Sergeant Roy Venables discusses his memories of printing PSYOP products:

I worked in the Ordnance Branch in the Headquarters Middle East Command at Fort Morbut from August 1964 to August 1966. All applications for printing came to my desk and we allocated the job number and approved the task for printing by the small Royal Army Ordinance Corps Printing Unit in Singapore Lines. Most of the jobs were related to day-to-day tasks like the various versions of the little rules of engagement "Orders for Opening Fire" cards and leaflets handed out to the troops.

I have two versions of the Orders for Opening Fire. In the light of the deteriorating situation and the outcome of trials (You went to the Aden Civil court if you killed someone who subsequently turned out to be an innocent bystander) it was necessary to revise the content of the card. I also have a flimsy leaflet of advice of measures the individual should take in Aden to remain safe. They are currently in transit from Australia where they have been for examination and copying by another Aden Vet.

From time to time, Intelligence Corps types would turn up and we would issue immediate job numbers for the tactical PSYOP leaflets. In those cases, we did not get to see the drafts, but many were in Arabic and ended up as leaflets and posters you describe.

Rules of Engagement card authorising when British troops could use force - earlier yellow version from February 1965.

Rules of Engagement card, blue version from January 1966.

Walker mentions the rules of engagement or “Blue Cards.”

Another restraint imposed on troops, in line with the policy of minimum force, was the “blue card,” which gave “Instructions to Individuals for Opening Fire in Aden.” Warnings had to be shouted out in Arabic and English, but if a soldier was confronted by a grenadier, reaction had to be instant, or the life of the soldier and innocent bystanders could be jeopardized.

During 1966, British troops were called on to deal with 480 incidents. In 1967, the last year of the British presence, there were nearly 3,000 similar outrages.

There were several different nationalist groups fighting the British. Often, they fought each other. The most well-known groups are:

The South Arabian League (S.A.L.)
The Front for the Liberation of South Yemen (F.L.O.S.Y.)
The Organization for the Liberation of the Occupied South (O.L.O.S.)
The People’s Liberation Party (P.L.P.)
The National Liberation Front (N.L.F.)

Among the main players, the S.A.L. was backed by Saudi Arabia, the N.L.F. by Egypt, and F.L.O.S.Y. by Egypt and the Aden Trade Unions. All the major groups were based in Yemen, and they regularly combined or broke up with other groups. For instance, S.A.L joined with P.S.P. to become O.L.O.S. in 1965, and then broke away in 1966. The N.L.F. joined with O.L.O.S. in January 1966 to form F.L.O.S.Y. then broke away in December 1966. Such movement was quite common all through the war.

At one point toward the end of the rebellion in early 1967 the NLF killed at least 35 members of FLOSY in 32 days. The FLOSY guerrillas first asked the British for protection, and then 80 flew to the UK using the British passports they had as citizens of a British Colony. So much for revolutionary zeal.

Nationalist propaganda graffiti on a building in Aden. The misspelled English text reads: "No Freedome withe out Blood".
(Photograph courtesy of Brian Harrington Spier)

Ian F. W. Beckett also points out the rise in terrorist activity:

In Aden between 1965 and 1967, there was a cognate transition from amateur attacks in which insurgents often blew themselves up - in one early attack the insurgent threw the pin rather than the grenade - to more effective and more numerous incidents. Incidents thus rose from 286 in 1965, to 540 in 1966, and to 2,900 in 1967, with grenades, road mines, and sniping taking most British lives.

The 1st Battalion of the Coldstream Guards arrived in Aden in October 1965. Their main task was Internal Security duties within Aden itself, where they were trying to prevent the import of arms and ammunition, and to secure Khormaksar airfield which was very vulnerable to mortar fire. There were many roadblocks, but there were miles of open desert which made avoiding them very easy. The Second-in-Command, Major Stewart-Richardson, had the idea of building a barbed-wire fence from coast to coast, a distance of some 11 miles! The fence was duly built, and as Major Stewart-Richardson’s nickname was ‘Scrubber’, it became known as the ‘Scrubber Line.’

The Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry patrolling the hills of Aden
(Photograph courtesy of Stan Green)

By 1966, the terrorists were getting more professional. Michael Barthorp discusses this in The Crater to the Creggan, London: Leo Cooper, 1976:

The performance of the bomb throwers – known as Cairo Grenadiers – became more effective, and the mortar began to replace the rocket launcher as a favorite terrorist weapon. Sabotage and murder were stepped up. The primary means for curbing terrorism was the search for suspected terrorists and weapons. One measure to restrict and check movement into Aden was the construction of an 11-mile-long wire obstacle across the desert from coast to coast, just north of Shiekh Othman, known as ‘The Scrubber Line’; all traffic coming down from the Yemen and the Federation now had to enter Aden through one of four check points.

Similar comments are made by Brigadier General A. I. H. Fyfe in the Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry: That unit was deployed to Aden from April 1966 to October 1966. Fyfe reports that:

During its six-month tour in Aden the Battalion dealt with 102 grenade incidents, four mines, two electronically detonated mines, two sabotage attempts, one accidental explosion, six assassinations, three attempted assassinations, one arson attack, three Blindicide rockets, and one mortar. These are figures for the operations in Sheikh Othman and Al Mansoura and do not include further attacks and mines at Mukeiras and Al Milah.

Signalman Peter Leybourne of the 15th Signal Regiment was stationed in Aden from March 1964 to March 1966. He discusses everyday life in Aden under the constant threat of terrorism:

I lived across the road at Canterbury House from Felixstow House, target of a rocket attack. There were no British residents behind Canterbury house, only Arabs and the mountains. Those rockets were fired from alleyways between the blocks of flats on my side of the road, into the flats opposite. Patrols were eventually organized using armed resident servicemen on a rotating basis and I kept a rifle at home. In one incident, a grenade was tossed from a moving car just outside Canterbury House and the patrol opened fire on the wrong car! It was the car behind the terrorists they shot at. That's how easy it was to get it wrong.

Something half woke me at 6:00 a.m. one Sunday morning. My young son came into the bedroom saying, “Bang daddy! Smoke!” He'd been playing on the balcony and watched an Arab attack a senior Non-Commissioned Officer with an icepick. The NCO promptly shot him dead.

Dissident training standards varied. One of the terrorists claimed several victims. He would walk up behind a serviceman browsing in a shop window in Maalla, shoot him in the back of the head and promptly disappear. I don’t know if they ever caught him.

I was based at Singapore Barracks, not far from Khormaksar airport. Not long after I arrived, a grenade was thrown through a window into a teenage party, killing the 16-year-old daughter of an RAF officer. One of the Scottish regiments was all fired up, wanting revenge and ready go on a rampage. They were confined to barracks.

I had just one brush with terrorists. The first six months there I drove the Royal Signals SDS Land Rover collecting and delivering official military mail on the Falaise run. The vehicle was fitted with a wire cage to prevent grenade attacks and although I heard nothing to suggest anything had hit cage, soon after passing the checkpoint into the camp there was an explosion behind me. It took several minutes to find a freshly broken pane of glass nearby and blast marks in the sand. The culprit was long gone. I have no doubt that my vehicle was the target of a grenade attack. At the time I was unarmed, but that changed soon after and we were issued a sub-machinegun.

I remember the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) studio near Steamer Point being hit. It was the only building in the history of BFBS ever to be attacked. A rocket attack again. I listened to a BBC radio program recently that confirmed it. Quite strange to hear someone talking about the things I was involved in.

Vigilance leaflet for New Troops

Peter also mentions booby-traps, or at least the rumor that such booby-traps existed.

One of the things we were constantly warned about was buying Eagle brand thermos flasks from the local shops. Soldiers and families used them for keeping drinks cold. We were warned that some of them were primed to go off when the top was unscrewed.

In January 1967, there were mass riots in the Arab quarter of Aden town by the NLF and the FLOSY. The intervention by British troops to pacify the situation failed, and the riots continued until mid-February. British troops experienced many attacks during that period, and Aden Airlines suffered the loss of a DC3 plane when it was destroyed in mid-air. There were no survivors of this attack.


During 1967 the British Government was not entirely sure where the SAA loyalties lay. In June of 1967 Nasser's Egyptian Army lost the “Six Day War” to the State of Israel. This defeat strained relations between the Arabs and the British in Aden because the Arabs thought that Britain, along with the United States, had aided Israel in the Six Day War.

The Aden Mutiny began on the night of 19 June 1967. The following day Arab soldiers based at Lake Lines mutinied and burned down their barracks. The cause of the mutiny was the suspension of three Arab colonels and the persistent tribal rivalries within the SAA. A three-ton truck containing British troops was attacked as it passed a SAA camp. Eight of the Royal Corps of Transport were killed in this unprovoked attack. The SAA now directed their fire into Radfan Camp killing a British officer, two policemen and a public works employee.  “C” Company of the 1st Battalion King’s Own Royal Border Regiment was ordered to put down the mutiny using minimum force. It moved to Champion Lines accompanied by a troop of the Queens Dragoon Guards in support. As the first British truck entered Champion Lines it came under machine gun fire. One British soldier was killed and eight were wounded. Two British Land Rovers were attacked at the Arab Police Barracks. By the end of that day, 22 British soldiers lay dead, and Crater was in the hands of 500 armed Arab terrorists and the Arab Police. Order was eventually restored by the British, mainly due to the efforts of the 1st Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, under the command of LTC “Mad Mitch” Mitchell. He led a force that reoccupied and held the town of Crater after 15 days accompanied by regimental bagpipers playing “Scotland the Brave.”

While that the guerrilla war was being fought, the “Voice of Arab Radio” was broadcasting anti-British propaganda to the people of Aden. Every report that I have read indicates that Nasser’s Cairo Radio far surpassed the British broadcasts. Aden radio had the problem of trying to make the local people think in terms of a centralized federal government when historically and traditionally they thought in terms of tribal and clan authority. It was a new and very confusing concept for the Adeni.

Paget adds:

Hostile propaganda from the Yemen was stepped up, with fierce attacks on the radio against Britain and the federation, together with repeated calls to the inhabitants of South Arabia to rebel against the government.

Egyptian-backed Yemen President General Sallal stated:

I call on our brothers in the occupied south to be ready for a revolution and for joining the battle we shall wage against colonialists…they must follow the example of their northern brothers…We have been patient too long towards Britain’s plotting against us.

Walker adds:

The other difficulty facing the broadcast producers was the fine line between pushing HMG’s case and denigrating an Arab or Arab government, which usually resulted in Arab listeners closing ranks, even if they were opposed to the Arabs concerned.

At a time when cheap transistor radios were available to the poorest tribesman, the Egyptians could broadcast very effective propaganda. They told the people of Aden to throw off the British yoke and asked those in the Arab Federal Army to immediately desert. The British regularly attempted to jam the enemy radio, but this met with only limited success.

About the Arab nationalist radio, there were several articles that mention the insurgent propaganda. The Dhow – Middle East Forces Newspaper discussed the Arab propaganda in their issue of 11 November 1965. The text is:


During October there was a marked decline in terrorist activity in Aden and throughout South Arabia. The National Liberation Front claim to have been responsible for killing 140 members of the Security Forces and wounding 74.

Among the more fanciful N.L.F. claims were the shooting down of a transport plane with 50 paratroopers on board in Lahej, and the destruction of the Secretariats of Beihan and Yafa.

In fact, casualties sustained by the Security Forces because of terrorist action were 1 killed and 5 injured in Aden and 18 wounded in the Federation, of whom 12 were members of the Federal Forces.

Seventeen civilians were also injured, including one 20-month-old girl in Ma’alla and two Arab nursing assistants in Lahej whose ambulance struck a mine.

On the other hand, it has been confirmed that four mercenaries have been killed, 29 have been captured, including 24 in Aden State, and a further 38 have surrendered, 32 of those in Dhala.

In addition, the Security Authorities have recovered 10 pistols, 18 mines, 10 grenades, one bazooka and a quantity of explosives.

Spencer Mawby discusses NLF propaganda in British Policy in Aden and the Protectorates 1955-67, Routledge, 2005.

The early literature of the NLF had a didactic purpose: it explained to the tribes that their rebellions were part of a broader struggle. A typical example exhorted: “Oh masses of our brave nation. Make your world one. Make your opinion one. Be one Arab nation and not the adverse tribes of the pre-Islamic era when tribes used to live bearing the spirit of vengeance while their enemy is clapping, laughing, mocking at them and at their action, stabbing them in the back with the poisonous daggers of conspiracy and treachery.” One such purported conspirator was the Sharif of Bayhan. An NLF leaflet found in his territory explained that he had “sold his nationalism and become a toy in the hands of colonialism.”

Sir Gerald Kennedy Nicholas Trevaskis held the post of High Commissioner for Aden and the Protectorate of South Arabia from 1963 to 1965. Mawby says that he was often the target of NLF propaganda.

The dissidents continued to circulate anti-British propa­ganda which portrayed the British campaign because of Trevaskis’s vengeful instincts and the resistance to the bombing as part of the wider global struggle against colonialism. One leaflet claimed that Trevaskis “has become now like a madman by his actions in Yafa in particular and the South in general . . . owing to his foolishness he did not realize the fact that colonialism has passed away from all parts of the World and that he himself is passing away with colonialism.”

On 30th November 1967, British troops finally withdrew from Aden. In a mark of historic symbolism, The Royal Marines, who had been the first British troops to occupy Aden in 1839, were the last to leave the area.

When the British left Aden in November 1967, the area rapidly fell under the control of the Marxist-oriented Front for the Liberation of South Yemen, which founded the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY).

Aden and the Federation of South Arabia were left under control of the NLF. Aden became the capital of the new People's Republic of South Yemen. This was renamed in 1970 to become the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen.

British PSYOP in Aden

Corporal Michael R. Lavery was stationed in Aden with the 10th Field Squadron (Airfields) Royal Engineers during the Emergency. He remembers:

The leaflets issued to our Squadron were distributed at check points, an ideal opportunity to practice our Arabic and hand over the leaflets in a friendly, polite manner - important to the Arabic culture.  (I think that the British Army is very good at policing operations - we do try to smile when doing our job and sincerely try to make positive contacts to win the hearts and minds of the locals).  My Squadron also backed up the various infantry battalions on their tours while we were there. I don’t recall the leaflets being handed out on these patrols.  They were produced in 1965 or 1966 and used extensively.  We never "dumped" them. I never got any feedback as to their effectiveness, but we do know that a lot of ordnance was returned and recovered.  A lot of the grenades were in fact British "Mills Bombs" (36 shrapnel pieces I believe) which were buried by the British in Egypt during the Suez campaign.  These were dug up and smuggled, via South Yemen, into Aden state.

The leaflets were also handed out to local workmen who helped us on construction tasks.  We had good relationships with these people and perhaps the leaflets produced some results.  This means that they were spread out not only in the NLF and FLOSY strongholds of Sheik Othman and Crater but also "up country" in Beihan State, Hablilayn, Radfan and other locations in the region.

A “Wanted Persons” Poster

In addition to the safe conduct leaflet and ordnance reward leaflets, I also distributed a Wanted Persons leaflet, the cover of a small and invaluable Soldiers Arabic Phrase Book (24 pages) and a well-used I.S. Arabic Phrases pocket companion.  I practiced the phrases and used them frequently on patrols and in contact with Arabs at check points and on our engineering operations.


Terrorist Graffiti
Courtesy of Sergeant Bob Bogan

The photo was taken about 25 yards east of the Al Sherqi Open Air Cinema, a place where
anti-British leaflets were distributed, and armed terrorists were thought to linger awaiting a target.

This photograph depicts NFL graffiti behind a Somerset & Cornwall Light Infantry reconnaissance platoon in 1966. The soldiers dressed as Arabs and were involved in secret operations in so-called "Q" cars - old vehicles which blended into the Aden background. They infiltrated NLF strongholds and snatched or "neutralized" known terrorists. They also located and uncovered arms caches. Locals were encouraged to inform the British security forces about the whereabouts of these arms. A series of leaflets bearing pictures of ordnance was distributed at check points and in the streets.  There was a reward for information. I do not know how much this was, but it was obviously enough to encourage informers.

Sergeant Bob Bogan of the Special Branch Squad [third from the right, first row in the picture above] told me about wearing the Arab clothing:

We wore unwashed Arab style clothing as it was dangerous to wash it. We found dirty unwashed clothes that smelt of the areas we worked in (aftershave and deodorants were taboo and banned). So, rather smelly we roamed the sewers and back alleys, unseen and unheard.

The Arab dogs did not bark, and the camels did not gargle in their throats and become restless as we moved past or among them. That would have given away the routes used and the ambush positions we occupied during the nighttime.

What we called "Bang Time" was normally between 2000 and 0200 [8:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.]. It appeared the terrorists in the Sheikh Othman and its surrounding areas chose to attack uniformed military patrols with grenades during these hours. Our selected ambush positions would cover these throwing areas, or the terrorists escape routes, and we were very successful.

Ambush preparation
A Sewerage Drain behind the Al-Qahira Kutcha Huts.

Special Branch Squad members Bob Bogan and “T.C.”, sit in a filthy sewerage drain dressed in civilian garb. The squad members liked these open sewers because they were not well-traveled and there were no lights. You can barely see them in this daylight photograph.

Lavery continues:

The "opposition" was known by us as "FLOSY” and their name was often seen crudely painted on walls of buildings in the Aden State - much like the IRA daubing's in Northern Ireland.  This graffiti did indeed have a psychological effect, not that any of us admitted it.  It showed that the enemy was around.  The more graffiti, the more of a sense of hostile omnipresence.  We soldiers in Aden referred to the enemy as "Dizzies" - short for dissidents. Funny, we never called them terrorists.I seem to remember at some briefing, the statement, "One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist"

The British concept of dressing like the enemy and going behind the lines to infiltrate and cause confusion among the terrorists was used with great success in several insurgencies. They used this technique in Kenya against the Mau Mau, and in Malaya against the ethnic Chinese. Special Forces troops would disguise themselves as Africans or Chinese and go into the woods pretending to be a rebel band. If they met another band, they would either inform headquarters or take them on in a surprise firefight. The British used different descriptions for these operations. In Kenya they were called “Pseudo Operations.” In Aden, they became known as “Keeni-Meeni” Operations. This is mentioned by Anthony Kemp in his book: The SAS: Savage Wars of Peace – 1947 to the Present, Signet, 1995:

In early 1966, A Squadron was back in Aden, ostensibly for training, and Peter de la Billiere set up a so-called close-quarter battle school which taught accurate pistol-shooting. He selected a group of his men who, disguised as Arabs, were to sally out in small groups into the town, looking for targets. If prisoners could be taken and interrogated that was a bonus, but essentially the purpose was to meet terrorism by terrorism. These squads became known as keeni-meeni, from the Swahili word for the slithering movement of a snake through the grass. During the early 1960s the SAS had recruited several excellent Fijians and they proved particularly suitable for the work as their skin color was like that of the local population. Others who had black hair and swarthy complexions were also chosen.

Authors note: General Sir Peter de la Billiere later became known to Americans when he commanded the British armed forces during Operation Desert Storm. During the Aden Emergency he commanded A Squadron of 22 Special Air Service.

Not much is known about the total number of PSYOP leaflets and posters produced by the British for use in Aden. It is believed that most were handed out by troops during traffic stops and patrols, but a good number of them were also dropped by aircraft. The following leaflets have been graciously volunteered by former members of the British military who served in Aden during the emergency.

Political Officer Peter Hinchcliffe was assigned to Aden during the emergency. A political officer worked up-country as a civilian. He was the representative of the Government of Aden liaising between the authorities in Aden and the up-country sheikhs and sultans. Unlike District Officers in the colonial empire the Political Officer had no executive authority. Aden Protectorate outside the colony of Aden was not under the authority of the British government. The government was responsible for its protection but could not order the protectorate states about. He discusses his 1962 meeting with a psychological warfare team in a recent letter. He was not particularly enthused about psychological operations:

I was the Political Officer stationed in Ga'ar, in Abyan when a PSYOP team came to call. It was commanded by a very tall young Captain who positively dribbled with enthusiasm, little common sense but a real go-getter. We were having problems with a dissident sheikh in the Yafa' mountains and the team wanted to help. The Captain had a 'brilliant' idea. Get a helicopter, put a projector on board and project a war film onto the clouds above the sheikh's lair to show him the might of the British Army. He suggested that newsreel of the Battle of El Alamein with infantry going into action under covering artillery fire and escorted by tanks. Sadly, for him this was the dry season. There was not a cloud anywhere-and the helicopter which went to have a reconnaissance returned with a couple of bullet holes! Nothing daunted the three-pipped genius. He decided to show the film to the locals anyway, but the projector broke down in the middle if the first reel-and he had not brought a spare bulb.

I should point out that this broadcasting of a propaganda message into the sky has been considered and attempted on several occasions without much success. The British considered such an operation in WWII, the Americans tested projection equipment during the Vietnam War, and more recently, the Americans considered something similar during Operation Desert Storm.

An RAF Shackleton bomber from 37 Squadron based in Aden
(Photograph courtesy of Chris Dance)

Hinchcliffe continues:

Another example of PSYOP was the dropping of empty beer bottles on rebelling tribesmen from an Avro Shackleton bomber. The bottles whistled as the came down but when hitting the ground, they disintegrated silently. The tribesmen were led to believe that these were time bombs which would be activated unless they made their peace with government. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this, but it was widely talked about as a possible tactic when I was in South Arabia.  My impression at the time was that PSYOP was not taken seriously, was generally crude and unimaginative and no way could cope with the inspirational nationalistic rousing output of Cairo Radio-Saut Al Arab-which was beamed into every transistor in the land and with which our feeble propaganda broadcast from Aden could in no way match.

A Shackleton from 37 Squadron on the tarmac at RAF Khormaksar, Aden
(Photograph courtesy of Mike Morrell)

When I first read this narrative, I could not help but think of the 1980 movie The Gods must be Crazy. The movie tells the story of an African member of the Sho tribe named Xixo who finds an empty Coca Cola bottle in the Kalahari Desert that had been thrown from a small aircraft. Of course, as any armaments expert knows, the cola bottle and beer bottle are completely different weapon systems.

This is not the only case of Hollywood describing such action. In the 1966 motion picture Cast a Giant Shadow Frank Sinatra plays an American member of the fledgling Israeli Air Force who flies an unarmed biplane over Arab forces and drops seltzer bottles on the enemy to frighten or disorient them.

The Hawker Hunter flying over Aden

It was not only the Shackleton bomber that was utilized to drop leaflets. The Hawker Hunter served in the Royal Air Force during the 1950 and 1960s and was widely exported, serving with 19 air forces. A total of 1,972 Hunters were produced by Hawker-Siddeley and under license. In Aden in May 1964 Hunter jet fighters of the RAF 8 and 43 Squadrons were used extensively during the Radfan campaign against insurgents attempting to overthrow the Federation of South Arabia. Both squadrons continued operations with their Hunters until the UK withdrew from Aden in November 1967. Besides bombing and strafing, the Hunters were occasionally used to fly propaganda missions. Ray Deacon recalls:

As best as I can recall the missions were flown with the leaflets stuffed into the aircraft flaps and then dropped over potential targets.

The 8 Squadron website points out that this odd method was used by the earlier Venom jet fighter too:

The leaflets could be carried in the split flaps of the Venom, the ribs being at foolscap spacing.

For our American readers I should point out that “foolscap” is a standard British large paper size, about 8 x 13 inches.

In the section entitled “The Hunter Years 1960-1971” the 8 Squadron website continues:

During the first quarter, over fifty operational sorties were flown; consisting of flag waves, leaflet drops and live strikes…Flight Lieutenant Swain was killed when he crashed into a hill during a leaflet drop….

I was recently talking to a former RAF officer who was assigned at one time to Aden. I mentioned leaflets and he said:

You know when we wrote up regular daytime missions the ink used was black or blue. For nighttime missions the ink was red. Operation missions like leaflet drops would be written in green ink. I don’t know how the Yanks did it but that was how we did it.

I don’t know why I found that interesting, but I do.

The Scottish Aviation Twin Engine Pioneer

Another aircraft used for supply and psychological operations in Aden was the Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer of 78 Squadron. Six of the aircraft were stationed at Khormaksar Airbase during the Emergency. The Royal Air Force utilized the aircraft's slow flying capability for propaganda duties. The Pioneers were used in various roles and could carry Two 1,000-pound, four 250-pound or four 500-pound bombs mounted externally, rockets, grenades, two fixed Browning machine guns in the front, a movable Bren gun firing through the rear entry door, and loudspeakers for “Sky Shout” propaganda missions (although only two of the aircraft had the heavy-duty generators to cope with the big amplifiers). One published reference states that the Pioneers dropped four different leaflets totaling 150,000 on a mission over the enemy in Aden.

There are several reported uses of propaganda leaflet drops in Aden during the time of the Emergency. Some have been reprinted in The Falling Leaf, the quarterly journal of the Psywar Society, an international association of psychological warfare historians:

A tribal uprising, aimed mainly at disrupting the building of a road in the Wadi Rabwa, 40 miles north of Aden, was scotched by land and aerial activities by protecting British forces.

The RAF dropped leaflets to the rebel tribesmen telling them to hand over the ringleaders or expel them to the Yemen or face the consequences.  The leaflet operation continued over the first two weeks of January 1964.

Hinchcliffe says it is incorrect to imply as the newspaper does that the rebels were slowed or stopped by leaflet drops.

The Wadi Rabwa was a crucial point of entry into the Wadi Taim, the heart of Radfan. I had a fort built there in January 1964 to control the pass - Rabwa Pass - known as “Hinchcliffe's Folly!” I asked for and received a leaflet drop and yet the fort was destroyed by the people we were warning off three months later despite our threatening leaflets. I cannot think of leaflet drops on their own ever scotching anything!

Aerial view of Crater town in the hollow of an extinct volcano. In the distance is RAF Khormaksar.
(Photograph courtesy of
Brian Harrington Spier)

It is important to note that leaflets really work best when the enemy is hungry, thirsty, tired, demoralized and aware that he is losing the war. At this stage of an insurgency when the question of who would rule Aden was certainly still in doubt, it would be foolish to expect too much from a propaganda leaflet. Leaflets work best when accompanied by overwhelming military might.

A second clipping from the Evening Standard is:

I was revealed on 9 May 1964 that a Shackleton bomber has made seven runs over a target peak near Thumair, dropping a stick of two bombs each time.

Before the attack took place, leaflets were dropped warning civilians to stay clear of the area. A week later another Shackleton flew over the area dropping leaflets.

A third news report states:

Reports continue to arrive from the Colony of Aden about leaflets being dropped by R.A.F. Shackleton bombers. The latest is a 21 May 1964 all-day air strike against Radfan rebels near Wadi Linga, south-east of Thumair. Before the air strike, artillery fire and mortaring began, leaflets were dropped warning people to “leave this area because it has been harboring bad men.”

Hinchcliffe mentions Thumair:

I was political adviser in the early stages of the Radfan campaign based in Thumair or Habilyan in March and April 1964. Thumair was the Headquarters of RadForce. The rebels set up several ambushes near there, one of which was aimed at a group of officials, including me. It was one of the triggers for a buildup of British forces in Thumair in support of the Arab Federal Regular Army which was outgunned by the better armed and motivated rebels and needed reinforcements from the UK to enable it to do its job.

Authors note: “Radforce” consisted of 39 Brigade, a force containing 45 Commando, the 1st East Anglians, the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, the 1st Scottish Borderers and the 1st Battalion, the Royal Scots, with the 2nd Battalion of the Federal Army, supported by tanks and armored cars, as well as Hunter aircraft.

A Typical British Military Camp

The photo above depicts Radfan Camp, located in the area north of Aden State, and situated about 4 miles to the southeast of Sheikh Othman. It was normally occupied by two Army Battalions who were on a six or nine-month operational tour in Aden. Notice the sandbags around the tents to protect the men from incoming small arms, mortar, and rocket attacks. One of the worse jobs in a forward base in disputed territory is the constant filling of thousands of sandbags. Like most U.S. desert camps, the British tent sides can be removed or folded to allow a breeze. However, there is no way to keep out the heat, dust, flies, cockroaches, and various stinging insects.

The British involvement in Radfan began when the rebels used the Dhala road to bring supplies to the terrorists in Aden. The British Army deployed a garrison into the Radfan to limit the rebel’s supplies. The Radfan tribesmen were aided and supplied by the Yemenis, who received aid and supplies from the Egyptians.

Curiously, according to Daniel Marston and Carter Malkasian in Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, UK, 2008: one of the major reasons used to justify the Radfan campaign was the same as the Americans used in Vietnam. The fear of a “Domino Effect” where nation after nation would fall to the enemy. Allegedly there was fear in London that that the British presence in South Arabia, and thereby the Gulf region, was about to fall to revolutionary forces

The American Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine of August 2000 mentions the Radfan tribes.

The Radfan, 60 miles north of Aden city and 6,000 feet above sea level, is 400 square miles of desolation. Scorching (temperatures reach 150 degrees), almost waterless and without road, the mountains were home to the Qotaibi tribe, self-described as the "Red Wolves of Radfan" because of their bloodcurdling practices, including beheading. Their stomping ground was the "Sacred Road"--the ancient caravan route from Aden via Dhala to Mecca--which they raided regularly. They numbered 7,500.

As one author put it, "Every male tribesman in the protectorate carried a gun. To go out without one was unthinkable. Shooting each other was their national sport." Combatants included a mix of "disciplined Marxist murderers, primitive tribal pursuers of the blood feud, teenage tearaways and dedicated nationalists"

One assessment of the "Red Wolves" concluded: "He will never surrender in battle and will endure shocking wounds, crawling away to die on his own rather than seek aid from his enemy."

Brigadier General James Lunt, Commander of the local Arab Federal Regular Army adds:

Its inhabitants dwell close-cooped in their stinking hovels, the accumulated manure of generations rotting beneath their noses and their animals stabled immediately beneath their living quarters. Riddled with disease, suspicious of every foreigner, their withered and stunted physique bears witness to their under-nourishment. Instead of growing food in their fields, they choose instead to cultivate qat, which they chew from noon until sundown, by which time their minds are sufficiently stupefied to commit any crime.

Walker says:

Nevertheless, the tribesmen’s superb marksmanship seemed to be little affected by the mild narcotic and neither was their energy dulled when it came to protecting their livelihood.

The uncoded British Leaflet above is all-Arabic text except for one sentence at the bottom which reads in English:


The Arabic text is:


The security services recently paid more than seven thousand dinars to citizens who handed explosives and weapons to the police or informed them of the whereabouts of terrorists in Aden.

Necessary measures have been taken to protect those who offer their help to us so do not feel threatened and continue to cooperate with the security services.

The lives of your children and family members are threatened by bullets, bombs, and terrorists.

Save your family and your country and give any useful information you have to the security services today.

The uncoded leaflet above depicts a shoulder-fired rocket launcher and the Arabic text:

This is a Bazooka

600 dinars

award to any person who informs the security services of this

weapons’ whereabouts.

The weapon depicted is believed to be an RL-83 Belgian Blindicide Rocket Launcher. The 83mm launcher was the favorite type of weapon used by Adeni terrorists against British Forces and on the buildings occupied by British families. It is basically an updated version of the US M-20A1 Super Bazooka. Many these weapons found their way into the hands of military, paramilitary, and terrorist forces from Lebanon to the Horn of Africa.

The next two leaflets have textual errors. It is possible that the person that prepared the text made the mistake, but it is more likely that the printer, not reading Arabic, simply reversed the text on each leaflet. The uncoded leaflet above depicts a bazooka rocket and the Arabic text:

This is a hand grenade

Inform the security services if you find one and receive 25 dinars.

The uncoded leaflet above depicts a single British “Mills 36” hand grenade and the incorrect Arabic text:

This is ammunition for the bazooka

If you see this anywhere, inform the security services.

You will receive 50 dinars.

This leaflet also exists with the correct text, so it is possible that the printing error above was discovered early and the leaflet depicted is a file copy or “printer’s waste.”

The uncoded leaflet above depicts a hand grenade now with the correct Arabic text:

This is a hand grenade

Inform the security services if you find one and receive 25 dinars.

The British also produced a reward leaflet that is all text and offers different amounts for 10 different types of weapons and armaments. Signalman Peter Leybourne described the dissemination of this leaflet thusly:

These were scattered on the streets of Maalla, Aden, from Land Rovers by British troops between the end of 1964 and beginning of 1966 during the troubles there. Main Road, Maalla, was dubbed 'Murder Mile' by the press.

The text is:


Bombs, mines, and bazookas are all tools that lead to death, destruction, and the murder of innocent souls. If you see them, or any of those mentioned below, please report it to the Security Services. In return, you will receive the following monetary rewards:

1. Machine gun                     400 dinars
2. Pistol/rifle                          50 dinars
3. Hand grenade                   25 dinars
4. Bazooka                            600 dinars
5. Mortar                               600 dinars
6. Mine                                  120 dinars
7. Mortar shell                      20 dinars
8. Bazooka Shell                   60 dinars
9. Cases of Explosives         120 dinars
10. Time bomb                      10 dinars


A Terrorist Arms Cache

This photograph shows a large cache or weapons and ammunition captured by British troops. Reward leaflets were regularly disseminated among the Aden population to get the people to tell of such caches so that they might be confiscated and destroyed.

The arms cache was discovered by Bob Bogan and his Somerset & Cornwall Light Infantry Special Branch Squad at the end of August 1966. The arms were found after a search was made at the request of the Federal National Guard, buried beneath the earthen floor in an unoccupied hut in Dar-Sadd. Bogan laid out the weapons for the photograph and mentions the items found. These are just a few of the items:

Two MK5 HB 1942 and thirteen AP No. 5 MK1 mines; Twelve F1 Russian/Chinese and five Italian Red Devil grenades; Eleven British 3-inch Mortar rounds; Two 303 Rifles MK3 and one FN 7.92 LMG; one thousand fifty ammo rounds 9mm Egyptian, forty-three .380 and eight 7.92mm; and other items such as four battery packs for watch timing devices, a roll of green plastic wire and one Bazooka Protector shield.

Bob also remembers finding enemy propaganda leaflets on many occasions. Unfortunately, he forwarded them all to intelligence. He says:

What a pity I hadn’t kept some of the leaflets we found in bundles; hundreds of them from the various searches we did. Most were prepared by the NLF and FLOSY, all strongly anti-British. However, our orders were to forward them to the civilian Special Branch, just as we did with any weapons we found.

Sergeant Bob Bogan
Courtesy of

Sergeant Bob Bogan is very proud of his men and their accomplishments behind the lines in Aden. He told me:

I was the Platoon Commander of the Reconnaissance Platoon from 1965 to 1967 which included our tour in Aden. I hand-picked the young soldiers to the Special Branch Squad in Aden. All my directives, briefings and orders came from Special Branch Counterintelligence Civilian Officers or through SCLI's own Regimental Intelligence Officer.

Some of his background is told on the Somerset & Cornwall Light Infantry website: It says in part:

He led a small group of men (Reconnaissance Platoon) whose task it was to catch terrorists, he was so successful - coloring of hair and skin and going out in disguise that he became a marked man, and three times he was subjected to grenade attacks. On one occasion a terrorist was caught creeping up behind the squad, all this took place in the filthiest parts of Aden, hiding in the sewers and shadows, always in danger.

These are the men who set up "Two-man ambushes" in the open sewers and dark alleyways of Sheik Othman, all alone, no radios, surrounded by thousands of Arabs. Most were only 18 or 19 years of age, I was not their Sergeant at 34 years, they were my children, I was their Dad. I worried every night about their safe keeping. I was so privileged and honored to have served with them and be accepted by them.

Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare also mentions the Special Branch as well as the SAS:

Some infantry battalions had their own “Special Branch” units comprising men from reconnaissance platoons, in plain clothes and armed with either a 9mm Browning or a Sterling sub-machine gun. In addition, the Special Air Service used a tried and tested routine involving two or four-man teams disguised as Arabs…in crowded areas, other friendly undercover units were likely to be operating, and there were fatal instances of “friendly fire.”

Studying printed reports of such friendly fire incidents (In the U.S. there is an old military adage that says, “Friendly fire ain’t,”) I did find one case of what the British call a “blue on blue” incident. Apparently, a clandestine SAS team did come across a friendly unit disguised as Arabs in October 1966 and in the confusion shot and wounded a sergeant named Michael Smith and killed a corporal of the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment in Sheikh Othman.

Special Branch “Arab” Land Rovers

Special Branch members pose in front of their Land Rovers. The vehicles were designed to fit in with local traffic both day and night. They were decorated with tassels and hood covers and painted by hand brush either green or black. Although the outside seemed dirty and dingy, the motor was kept in pristine condition and each vehicle had a hidden radio. The vehicles would drive through town dropping off two-man pairs who would quietly go about their missions.

A Falling Leaf newspaper quote mentions the use of leaflets in regard to a “cash for weapons” offer:

Aden Radio announced on 27 July 1965, the discovery of arms and ammunition in the Crater area from information supplied in response to leaflets dropped by the Royal Air Force. They offered rewards varying from £25 for a grenade to £600 for a rocket launcher.

We are informed that a grenade costs the Army 12/6d. If they offer £25 to ‘buy’ them back, this shows a net loss of 4000 percent!”

Of course, the individual who wrote that comment missed the entire point of the offer. The cost of the weapon is of no matter. The fact that the weapon will not kill a British soldier was important and well worth the £25. In addition, some might say that the fact that the British were not forced to kill the Arab carrying the grenade is also worth a few pounds.

A second comment about reward leaflets from the same issue:

We are informed that four types of leaflets were dropped on 29 July at the following places: Aden, Little Aden, and Sheik Othman. 150,000 of the leaflets were dropped at first light by a twin-engined Pioneer aircraft. 400 dinars were offered for a machine gun and 100 dinars for a mine (a dinar is equal to one British pound).

A former RAF man who was stationed in Aden read this article and sent me an anecdote about rewards offered for British pilots. It is interesting enough that I thought I would add it here.

You didn’t mention the "Goolies Chit." I can remember it well. It seems that tribesmen cut off the testicles of any pilot who ejected from his aircraft. They rumor was that they were a delicacy. The goolie chit promised a reward (which was quite big) to anyone rescuing a British pilot providing he was returned "whole" with the emphasis on the word "WHOLE."

We don’t know much about the propaganda leaflets prepared by the guerrillas, but at least one National Liberation Front leaflet is mentioned by Paget. The Arab-language leaflet tells the people how to go about causing the British bother and inconvenience:


In addition to Commando acts, it is possible to destroy anything connected to the British by:

1. Rendering their air conditioners useless – in their houses or in their offices.
2. By pouring sugar or earth in the petrol tanks of their cars.
3. By puncturing their tires with nails or other things.
4. By breaking the water pipes in their houses or offices.
5. By making the British cars that are parked near their houses or offices useless, by puncturing the tires, pouring sugar or earth into their petrol tanks, by breaking glass or breaking other things.
6. By opening the oil pipes and letting the oil run out.
7. By distributing leaflets in English and leaving them in British owned cars or sending them by post to British people.
8. By setting fire to their cars, NAAFI’s, petrol, and arms stores, and to anything British, which is inflammable.

"Dominating the high ground" is Private Lanaghan. 3rd Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment patrolling and searching the Salt Pans.
(Photograph courtesy of Brian Harrington Spier)

Although casualty numbers are always suspect, it is believed that at the end of the Aden adventure there were 382 Arabs killed and 1,714 wounded. Casualties among the British military were 92 killed and 510 wounded. There were an additional 17 British civilians killed and 81 wounded.

This is a very brief look at the PSYOP of the Aden Emergency. Readers with comments or suggestions are urged to write to the author at