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Project Title: Pull Up A Sandbag

Exhibition: The Aden Emergency: "a wee drap o' the Crater"

The Argylls, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Colin Mitchell arrived in the British Crown Colony of Aden in 1967, tasked with peace-keeping duties during the insurgency against the British forces, known as the Aden Emergency. This exhibition aims to tell the story of the tour through the eyes of those who took part, illustrated with photographs.

Assets in this exhibition:

Historical background to the Aden Emergency

Aden is a port situated at the southern tip of what is now the country of Yemen on the southern Arabian Peninsula. The natural harbour, located on the eastern approach to the Red Sea, lies in the crater of an extinct volcano, which now forms a peninsula.

Before British rule, Aden was ruled by the Portuguese, the Ottoman Empire and the Sultan of Lahej, who ceded Aden and the surrounding land (75 square miles) to the British in 1838. The Crown Colony of Aden became an important refuelling station for the British ships on route to India and a coaling station was built at Steamer Point. Aden’s importance to British trade increased with the advent of the Suez Canal in 1869.

Following the independence of India in 1947, Aden’s importance to the United Kingdom diminished. This coincided with a wave of Arab nationalism spreading to the Arabian Peninsula from the Egyptian Leader, Gamel Abdel Nasser, who had tried to nationalise the Suez Canal in 1956. It is not clear to what extent the Aden Emergency or uprising in 1963 was directly involved in the incitement of revolt in Aden, but the factions certainly drew inspiration from his ideas.


Under attack

Exhibition Image One

Description

Jocks returning fire in support of a patrol in Crater from the heights above the area.

They are armed with Self-Loading Rifles (SLR)

Source

Date: 1967
Contributor: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum
Location: Aden
Original Source: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum Archive


Patrolling in Crater

Exhibition Image One

Description

Argylls in landrovers patrolling in Crater.

The pole at the front of the landrover was to counter a common terrorist tactic of running wire across the road to try to decapitate soldiers. At least one soldier was killed by this tactic before the poles were introduced.

Source

Date: 1967
Contributor: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum
Location: Aden
Original Source: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum Archive


The Aden Emergency (1963-67)

The Aden Emergency began on 10 December 1963, when a state of emergency was declared in the Crown Colony of Aden. This was caused by a grenade attack against the British High Commissioner by the National Liberation Front (N.L.F.), killing one person and injuring fifty.

The Emergency also included the Radfan Mountains located 60 miles to the north of Aden. The sheikhdoms in Aden accepted British protection in 1870 and revolt was also fermenting among local tribesmen, who were trying to close the main road from Aden to the frontier town of Dhala. However, the British Forces ensured that this road was successfully kept open for supply convoys.

The Emergency ended on 30 November 1967 with the withdrawal of British troops and the proclamation of the independent People’s Republic of South Yemen.

During the four years of the Emergency, 90 British Army personnel were killed and 510 were wounded.


Overlooking Aden

Exhibition Image One

Description

Some Argylls were stationed on the heights of Jebel Shamsan overlooking Aden.

The Lance Corporal is carrying a Browning 5 mm pistol and has an A41 radio on his back. Body armour had not been introduced to the British Army at this time.

Source

Date: 1967
Contributor: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum
Location: Aden
Original Source: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum Archive


The Argylls in Crater: Operation Stirling Castle

The 1st Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Colin Mitchell, moved to Aden take over from the Northumberland Fusiliers in June 1967. Their job was to keep the peace in the Crater area.

On 20 June, the Aden Police mutinied and guns taken from the armoury were used to fire on British troops. Although order was quickly restored, there were casualties including eight unarmed soldiers of 60 Squadron Royal Corps of Transport who were killed returning from training at the ranges.

The police in Crater, made nervous by the sound of gunfire, took guns from their armoury and began to snipe from the tops of buildings. A company of Northumberland Fusiliers, accompanied by some Argylls, was sent to restore order. Eight Fusiliers and three Argylls in the first two land rovers were killed and British troops were ordered to withdraw from Crater.

On 3 July, Operation Stirling Castle began and the Argylls entered and retook Crater. The main body of troops entered Crater following Pipe Major Ken Robson and his pipers playing Monymusk, the regimental charge. The Operation was a complete success and the Argylls remained in control of Crater until the end of the Emergency later in the year.


More patrolling in Crater

Exhibition Image One

Description

Patrolling in landrovers in Crater.

Both vehicles have a top-cover sentry for all-round observation and protection.

Gebel Shamsan is pictured in the background - the Argylls had observation posts in these heights.

Source

Date: 1967
Contributor: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum
Location: Aden
Original Source: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum Archive


Lieutenant Colonel Colin Mitchell

Exhibition Image One

Description

Lieutenant Colonel Colin Mitchell commanded the 1st Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during their tour in Aden.

He planned and executed Operation Stirling Castle which was the re-entry into Crater following the Police Mutiny.

Source

Date: 1967
Contributor: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum
Location: Aden
Original Source: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum Archive


Aden

Exhibition Image One

Description

General view of Crater.

Source

Date: 1967
Contributor: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum
Location: Aden
Original Source: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum Archive


Ready for action

Exhibition Image One

Description

Jocks dismounting from a landrover in Crater reacting to an incident.

They are lightly equipped carrying Self-Loading Rifles (SLR). Body armour had not been introduced to the British Army at this time.

Source

Date: 1967
Contributor: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum
Location: Aden
Original Source: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum Archive


Patrolling on the heights above Crater

Exhibition Image One

Description

Jocks patrolling on the heights above Crater from one of the observation posts.

They are armed with Self-Loading Rifles (SLR).

The capbadge is the Highland Brigade capbadge ("Crucified Moose") which was worn by Scottish infantry until regimental capbadges were reinstated.

Source

Date: 1967
Contributor: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum
Location: Aden
Original Source: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum Achive


The nationalist factions in the Aden Emergency

There were a number of different nationalist groups, all based in Yemen, fighting against the British. They often fought each other as well, for example in 1967, the N.L.F. killed at least 35 members of F.L.O.S.Y. in 32 days.

The situation was made more confused as the factions often amalgamated or broke up to form other groups; for example in 1966, N.L.F. with O.L.O.S. joined to form F.L.O.S.Y. and then broke away again 10 months later.

The most well-known groups were:
• The South Arabian League (S.A.L.)
Backed by Saudi Arabia.
• The Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (F.L.O.S.Y.)
Backed by Egypt and the Aden Trade Unions.
• 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.)


The Chartered Bank

Exhibition Image One

Description

Following the successful re-entry into Crater, the Chartered Bank became the Battalion headquarters and was renamed Stirling Castle. S

tirling Castle was the regimental depot from 1881 until 1964 and is still the home of the Home headquarters and Regimental Museum of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Source

Date: 1967
Contributor: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum
Location: Aden
Original Source: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum Archive


Aftermath of bomb explosion

Exhibition Image One

Description

A donkey flees from a bomb explosion, while an Argyll signaller reports the incident on the radio. The rest of his patrol are out of sight clearing the area.

The signaller is equipped with an A41 radio and armed with a Self-Loading Rifle (SLR).

Source

Date: 1967
Contributor: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum
Location: Aden
Original Source: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum Archive


The best way to enter a building!

Exhibition Image One

Description

Argyll

Source

Date: 1967
Contributor: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum
Location: Aden
Original Source: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum Archive


Awards to Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders for their service in Aden

The following awards were made to members of the 1st Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders for services during the operations in Crater


Military Cross Major I. MacKay, MBE


Military Medal Sergeant J. Harkins


Mentioned in Despatches for Distinguished Conduct

Lieutenant-Colonel C. C. Mitchell
Major N. D. L. Crowe
Major (QM) R. Smith
Lieut D. P. Thomson, MC
WOII J. Kennedy
Colour Sergeant J. Mutch


Mentioned in Despatches for Gallant Conduct

Major I. B. Robertson
Lieutenant W. D. Watson
Lieutenant H. D. Clark
WOII W. J. Wilson
Corporal G. Sheridan
Corporal T. Grant
Corporal A. G. McLaren
Private T. D. Dickson
Piper H. J. N. Oakley


Captured munitions

Exhibition Image One

Description

Argylls stand guard over captured munitions found in a house in Crater.

The munitions include land mines, rocket and hand grenades and home-made explosives.

Source

Date: 1967
Contributor: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum
Location: Aden
Original Source: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum


Stop and search

Exhibition Image One

Description

After any incident in Crater, Operation Portcullis was ordered, which closed off the entire area. A stop-and-search operation was then put in place to restrict the movement of terrorists and their sympathetisers.

The Jock is carrying extra ammunition for the General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG); and has bayonet fixed on his Self-Loading Rifle (SLR).

Source

Date: 1967
Contributor: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum
Location: Aden
Original Source: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum Archive


The Argylls leave Aden

Exhibition Image One

Description

A poignant moment as the Argyll flag is lowered for the last time in Aden to the sound of the pipes.

Source

Date: 1967
Contributor: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum
Location: Aden
Original Source: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum