View Full Version : A small war: Aden till 1967

06-20-2008, 03:43 AM
"Mad Mitch" and the Aden Conflict 1967

Here are the links to a very good documentary that ran on BBC Scotland last year about the Battle of the Crater. It runs for about a half hour.

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nJpLdx63EY

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7aAnd-tU44&feature=related

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZEw8EdwEo8&feature=related

I look forward to the comments.

06-20-2008, 08:17 AM
Try a review page on his book: http://www.britains-smallwars.com/swbooks/Mitchell.html

The BBC's own website on the programme, which is a short biography too alongside Crater episode: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/7111303.stm

An excellent BBC reporter visits Aden in 2007: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7120629.stm

Slightly longer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Campbell_Mitchell

His obituary from The Independent: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19960724/ai_n14059912

A very different comment after a visit to Aden in 2004: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2004/may/17/military.iraq1

Now back to breakfast.


09-20-2013, 08:32 PM
Elsewhere in the Afghanistan arena SWC have discussed an exit, so the linked historian's article should help; the author, Andrew Mumford, is a British academic who has written on COIN. The article's full title is: 'Exit strategies in counter-insurgency: Britain in Aden and the lessons for Afghanistan'.

First the summary:
The exit strategy enacted in Aden in 1967 by British armed forces shows the dangers of a highly politicised and hasty withdrawal from a complex counter-insurgency campaign.

The campaign in Aden marked the most distinct turning point in the conduct of British counter-insurgency since World War Two, ushering in a new phase in how counter-insurgency was planned, executed, and concluded.

Examining the British withdrawal from Aden in 1967 offers some useful insights for British forces today as they prepare to exit from Afghanistan, This process could help avoid the humiliation suffered by the British Army in 1967: troops being shot at until the last soldier boarded the final boat home.

The effect of politicising exit strategies from counter-insurgency wars reduces room for manoeuvre on the ground: instead of the ability to react to qualitative assessments of the security situation, troops must meet a pre-set timetable. This should be avoided in Afghanistan.Link:http://www.historyandpolicy.org/papers/policy-paper-144.html

SWJ Blog
01-21-2015, 05:37 AM
A Study in Contradictions: Human Rights and British Counterinsurgency in Aden, 1962-64 (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/a-study-in-contradictions-human-rights-and-british-counterinsurgency-in-aden-1962-64)

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/a-study-in-contradictions-human-rights-and-british-counterinsurgency-in-aden-1962-64) on SWJournal and make any comments at there.

06-10-2016, 10:49 AM
At a recent, local lecture comparing 'Air Policing' by the UK in the Middle East and Drone Warfare today, the speaker, Professor Clive Jones, startled me remarking that in "up country" aka Aden Protectorate (local rulers with a very limited Imperial role, not being colonies), there were RAF Field Intelligence Officers posted on short three to six month tours in the 1940-1950's. One report refers to them as 'a rather queer lot..part explorer, part diplomat, part anthropologist and part spy'. They relied on radio links to the colonial authorities in Aden (a colony).

The implication was that these officers continued to support 'Air Policing', which was a policy of bluff, bombing and bribery (with rifles, not cash). The intelligence supplied was crucial and the loss of life was low - when the RAF bombed.

Just rediscovered two threads that cover Air Power in COIN; this one refers to air policing and a key text:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=17151&highlight=omissi

A much bigger thread, with 387 posts and 137,244 views is:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=9605&highlight=air

Some insight into the RAF FIO role comes in pgs. 145-146, in a wide ranging RAF publication:http://airpowerstudies.co.uk/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/RAFAHBCOIN2.pdf

06-10-2016, 10:51 AM
Next year there maybe an academic conference in the UK, to mark the 50th anniversary of the British exit from Aden. Hopefully details can be circulated.

07-16-2016, 12:49 PM
Just found a pointer to this 2015 book, 'Mad Mitch's Tribal Law; Aden and the End of Empire' by Aaron Edwards, a Sandhurst military historian:
Mad Mitch was truly a man out of his time. Supremely self-confident and debonair, he was an empire builder, not dismantler, and railed against the national malaise he felt had gripped Britainís political establishment. Drawing on a wide array of never-before-seen archival sources and eyewitness testimonies, Mad Mitchís Tribal Law tells the remarkable story of inspiring leadership, loyalty and betrayal in the final days of British Empire. It is, above all, a shocking account of Britainís forgotten war on terror.
Link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mad-Mitchs-Tribal-Law-Empire/dp/1780577001/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1468672968&sr=1-1&keywords=mad+mitch%27s+tribal+law%3A+aden+and+the+ and+of+empire

12-09-2017, 10:30 PM
Post 6 refers to a forthcoming conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the UK's exit from Aden. Alas I had only short notice it was last week and managed to get a seat. It was a fascinating event, largely as the majority of the audience had served in Aden (a colony), plus the two protectorates or "up country".

One speaker was Jonathan Walker, a military historian, who has written the most recent book, published in 2014, on the 'Aden Insurgency – The Savage War in Yemen 1962 – 67'. His website is:http://www.jonathan-walker.co.uk/portfolio-item/aden-insurgency

Link to UK Amazon (with reviews):https://www.amazon.co.uk/Aden-Insurgency-Savage-Yemen-1962-67/dp/1473827639/ref=sr_1_1? (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Aden-Insurgency-Savage-Yemen-1962-67/dp/1473827639/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487191538&sr=8-1&keywords=aden+insurgency)

Amazon shows two other books on the period and one on "Mad Mitch".

Professor Clive Jones gave the opening address and reminded us that when Aden was handed over it was to the NLF, a liberation movement with Communist sympathies and cadres being trained in East Germany for example. It was the only time in the UK's decolonization that this happened (excluding Hong Kong to the PRC).

Five factors contributed to the end of this 'noble endeavour': a failure to create a local elite; the intervention of external powers (notably Egypt); the UK's financial-economic problems; UK defence priorities and a change in the perception of the UK as a great power.

The local and colonial authorities were unaware of the impact of Arab nationalism, Marxism and Socialism - only late on were these factors identified. The local government in Aden did not have popular support; the Protectorates were ruled by local tribal leaders (many fled to Saudi Arabia when the UK left).

Back to Air Policing he remarked this was in the long term a disaster for security. It was an unnecessary level of violence when compared to the problems caused "up country" and led to post-1939 illegal smuggling of weapons into the protectorates from the Yemen. As weapons were used by the colonial authorities as a bribe for good behaviour that didn't help either.

An interesting comment when applied to current use of air power.

Others added that in 1961 Aden was the "Hong Kong" of the region, wealth accelerated by being the second largest fuel bunkering port in the world and a newly built oil refinery - after the one at Abadan, Iran was seized. This prosperity is now forgotten. Aden Colony had a multi-racial population of 285k, a quarter were non-Yemeni (I assume they all left before or after 1967).

There were twenty-two separate intelligence organizations, so operational liaison was virtually impossible, no intelligence was passed on and only in 1965 was an intelligence "supremo" appointed. Complacency and under-estimation of the the Yemenis was rife. One senior experienced police officer remarked when on finding a junior officer was reading a classified report on the lessons from Malaya: 'It was a bloody jungle there..this is not Malaya'.

Forum readers will know all too often 'lessons' are either not learnt, let alone available later.

The insurgency claimed 200 dead British soldiers (not all Army) and 700 wounded. In 1965-67 two infantry brigades were there, so when withdrawal was conducted the numbers are staggering: 120k tonnes of stores removed, 10K dependents and 24k military personnel evacuated.

One session asked why exit from Aden, but within a short time the UK took on a greater, largely covert role in neighbouring Oman? There the campaign had three parts: Counter-Insurgency, Legitimacy and nation-building. It was 'tenacious, calibrated and strategic' and the fight was won!

12-31-2017, 12:56 PM
The RUSI website now has the keynote lecture (23 mins) for the Aden event, by Professor Clive Jones:ttps://rusi.org/event/without-glory-without-disaster-50-years-after-british-withdrawal-aden

04-28-2018, 10:22 AM
Three items. The first is from an obituary of Brigadier David Baines who served there in September 1965, commanding an artillery regiment:
he assumed command of 1 RHA and led the Regiment to Aden on operational service in September 1965. The Regiment fired more than 23,000 rounds in support of seven British and six Arab battalions and received some 50 casualties, including seven killed.
Link, behind a pay wall:https://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2018/04/23/brigadierdavid-baines-obituary/

Added as it shows the scale of the combat mission "up country", often called The Radfan.

The second is an episode on Aden and Yemen,from a 1985 Granada TV documentary series 'End of Empire', which appears on YouTube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J94dwNP18yI

The third is a reminder that one of the most recent books on this 'last colonial war' is Jonathan Walker's 'Aden Insurgency: The Savage War in Yemen 1962-67', published in 2014. There's also a link to a filmed lecture he gave @ Kings War Studies:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KfFs-FCcOg